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Aim High, Apparently

Over the years I have often wondered when clients and guests talk about happenings with their children, exactly HOW they do it. How do they get through those illnesses that land their children in the hospital, or how they drop their kids off at college and manage to function the next day at work. There’s been many stories that have me wondering, how do those moms do it? When I ask them the response that I always get is, “you just do.”

I’ve been seeing my son, now that he’s in high school, starting to talk about his future. Of course, when he was little, these moments seemed like a lifetime away. It seemed like I would have plenty of time to prepare myself for the moment when he would leave my helicopter mom grasp and create his own life.

If you know me, you know that I have one living child. He is li.ter.a.lly my world. I have enjoyed every single stage with him. Because he’s an only child, the thing that I’ve worried about most is that something would happen to me and to his dad and in a moment he would be alone to fight this world. I have said lots of prayers over the years that God give him others to be close with so that he would have a second family in case I was no longer there.

Little did I know that he would start to create that by his little ol self.

I started to see some of the writing on the wall about two years ago when he increasingly became interested in history, and specifically, military history. He couldn’t get enough. Most of our vacations then and now revolve around visiting battlefields, aircraft carriers, and museums.

One of the times he and I visited Virginia, I remember standing at a distance behind him watching as he soaked in all the information at the Jamestown Settlement and the USS Wisconsin. This past year when we went to Texas and visited the USS Lexington,

we spent hours there looking at the displays. It was clear to me that he CARES about what he was looking at. (It was really cool, by the way). While we were driving back to our vacation house, I specifically asked him if the military was something he was thinking about. He responded with a no, but in that moment I knew that, just by the way he responded, he wasn’t telling me the truth. He was telling me what I wanted to hear, not what was in his heart.

I have to admit that the realization was EXTREMELY hard for me. I joke that I’m “allergic” to anything that could hurt him. When he got his permit, I was instantly allergic to all things driving. When he shared that a friend was disrespectful to him I wanted to punch their lights out. You know how it is moms- don’t poke a stick at mama bear.

After that moment of figuring out that he was telling me what I wanted to hear, not what he really had rolling around in his noggin, it honestly weighed on me hard. I began thinking about it a lot. I had also learned that he told one of my friends that he wanted to join the military. I was so hurt by that! So he would tell HER, but he wouldn’t tell ME?! I remember telling his dad one night that I was so so afraid of the military idea that if he joined, I thought I would die. (Dramatic much?)

One morning I was laying in bed thinking about all of this and it hit me. He’s being provided and is developing exactly what I asked for. He’s creating a life that involves others that have the potential to become his family. Others that care about their fellow soldiers so much that they have each other’s back and someone they don’t leave behind. It hit me like a ton of bricks how selfish I was being thinking that I was the only one that could be in his life; that I was the only one who could be in his family.

With that, I hit the moment I have heard so much about. How do you do it? “You just do.” I realized that he needed to hear that I would support him with what he wanted to do in the future, and this part is rather comical if you know how awkward he and I both are.

He was down in the basement cutting up cardboard just like he always does on Sunday. I went down, rounded the corner, said, “J, I need to talk to you and I’m going to cry.” He had a mixture of fear and surprise on his face, so he set down his blade and, said, “ Ok. I’m ready” like he was about to go into the battle of his life.

I did what I needed to for him. I said that while the military would be hard for me, no matter what, I will always be by his side, and I will ALWAYS be his biggest cheerleader. I told him that I would support his decision to join and that he could always count on me to stand behind him. I wish I could bottle up the relief on his face. It was an absolute priceless moment for me, and he began from that moment on to talk to me most every day about the Airforce.

When I would listen to him talk, I would think that I’ll be one of those moms that they have to drag off of the front of the car or bus that takes him off to wherever he goes. I can hear them say, “We’ve got a live one here! Crazy mom!” What he had in mind, however, was bigger than I ever expected. His plan was to start to work towards getting accepted into the Airforce Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’m not sure if you’ve ever looked up how competitive it is, but if you haven’t, let me just say, I’m pretty driven, but I would second guess my abilities if I were in that situation.

When he first started talking about the military, I would have these moments where I would say, “I must be a horrible mother. He can’t wait to get as far away from me as he can,” but then I started to realize that those words are complete bologna. I have always told him that he can be and do ANYTHING he wants as long as he’s willing to put in the work and just plain decide that he wanted it bad enough. He doesn’t want to get away from me, he BELIEVES those words- you can be anything you put your mind to. Just when you think the things you say don’t matter, you quickly realize that they actually do. Our kids hear us. They hear our words. Thank goodness I used the right ones.

We have been talking every day about his path and as I was going through the requirements to apply, I would remind him that he needed to do things like write letters to congressmen to ask them to sponsor him into the academy. While I would question my abilities, he immediately responded, “I can do that.” When I reminded him of the academic standards that would be required through high school, he stated, “I’m already doing that.” J, you’ll need to take the most difficult classes through high school, “I will. I can do it.” Mind ever-loving blown.

Now that I’ve gotten over my own thoughts, I have to admit that I’m absolutely PUMPED about this process. He is inspiring me. It’s cool to be a part of this and to know that I’m going to be involved in so many amazing times with him, even if he doesn’t get accepted into the academy. There is a bit of sadness there, though, that I know there are some kids that don’t have the type of parents that J has. I know of someone that went to the recruiting station with a hundred dollars in his pocket and a duffel bag. No mom to remind him that she would always be there and would always be his biggest cheerleader. And another who came home from several deployments with no one at the airport

to hold signs and give them the biggest hug after missing them every day. It makes me so so sad, and “allergic” to those types of moms, and I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t see this girl ever be that.

This adventure is far from over with my son, and I’m so excited to see where it takes him. I hope that I’ll always remember to use the right words- I know he’s listening. I’m so proud.

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