How To Find What You Came Here For

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Anchors Aweigh, My Boy

Source: via  Pinterest
When my first son was born, I have to admit that I didn't really give a great deal of thought to what he would be when he grew up.  Mostly I was concerned with navigating the suddenly slippery track of parenthood, and at the time it seemed like college and adulthood were entirely too far away to concern me.

That was about five minutes ago.

It was also nineteen years ago.

Time, in a mother's mind, is amazingly malleable as it turns out.  Something like emotional Silly Putty: it stretches and bounces and picks up impressions as it goes, and it cannot be counted on to be a reflection of reality in any case.

Last night my little blond-haired boy sat on my lap so I could read "The Hobbit" to him.  *Boing* goes the Silly Putty...and today he finished his third semester of college.

It may be his last semester of college for a while.  It may be his last semester of college ever.  The first year and a half of college didn't exactly go according to plan.  And by plan, I mean the vague idea I'd nurtured that my brilliant offspring would breeze through college, find his dream career, meet a nice girl, get married, give me beautiful grandchildren, and live happily ever after.

You know, THAT plan.

The "breeze through college" phase of the plan hit a snag almost immediately.  He had trouble with his roommate, who was apparently majoring in partying.  Then, through one thing and another, he effectively failed most of his classes despite being exceedingly smart.  He made some questionable choices with what little money he had, so by the time he got to the end of this last semester he didn't have enough to pay his portion of tuition for the spring semester.  We don't have it either, since that winning lottery ticket continues to remain elusive.

Which leads to the reason for the title of this post, and the cute little Lego sailor picture.  My baby boy is joining the Navy.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, he's my baby boy and I don't want anybody yelling at him but me.

On the other hand, someone else yelling at him might make an impression where I have, apparently, failed.

On the one hand, I don't want him to be put into a position where he might be in danger.

On the other hand, it seems extremely hypocritical to say that I support and appreciate those who serve our country in the military and then turn around and say, "Not MY son!"  Why not my son?  Is the love I have for him somehow more intense or valuable than the love of those mother's whose sons have already chosen to serve?  I don't think so.  Love isn't something to be measured or compared; it is what it is.

Regardless of my mixed feelings (Silly Putty in a blender comes to mind), he's talking to the recruiter tomorrow.  If everything works out, he'll be heading off to boot camp in the next few months. 

I have high hopes and deep anxiety in equal measure...which, now that I think about it, is pretty much how I felt on the first day of kindergarten, the first day of middle school, the first day of high school, and the first day of college. It's probably how I'm going to feel on the day he gets married and on the day his first child is born.

Anchors aweigh, my boy. 


  1. I'm proud of him for making this decision, and proud of you and Dan for supporting him. I think this could be a very good thing. Yes, there is risk, but there can also be great reward.

    I might end up in same shoes in 6 short years.

  2. I got goosebumps during your post. My little one is six. How he's gone from wanting to be a Paleontologist to a Marine (like his soon to be retired dad) I don't know. I try not to be a hypocrite though I cringed on the inside about him one day (5 minutes from now) going off to boot camp :-( Congrats to your son when he becomes a sailor.

  3. Geri, There is no promise that he will be fine in these troubled times. But knowing that he has came from two parents who are intelligent and loving as you are I would say he has better than expected odds. I'm VERY proud to hear that he didn't take his college mishap as the end. Stepping up to join the Navy to peruse another avenue to a solid future very admirable. I hope he takes the time to study and go for Officer Training School. I'm sure he will do good and the Navy will surely pay for him to finish college.

    Rob (AB's Hubby)

  4. Ah, typical & natural maternal feelings...
    and you know what's the best part? He will probably be okay!
    Hope you have a wonderful New Year!
    See you around in 2012...

  5. AmyBeth & Rob - Thanks! I know it would be good for him, so I'm excited about that part, but worry seems to be my natural state!

    Kenya - I know exactly what you mean! I still remember my son telling me he was going to be a preacher, but if that didn't work out his back-up plan was to be a doctor.

    MISH - Thanks! Happy New Year!

  6. You are braver than I. Good for you for seeing both sides and letting him do what's right for him. This parenting thing is TOUGH. Gesh...

  7. This post makes me tired. I have five children and I can't imagine the struggles I'll have to witness over the course of my lifetime. Things rarely go according to plan and I wish your son all the best in his chosen path.

  8. Leanne - Parenting should come with a warning label and a lifetime supply of anti-anxiety drugs!

    Erin - Thanks! I'm trying to keep in mind that it's not always a BAD thing when things don't go according to plan.

  9. I too have a 19 year old son. I too struggle with him listening to me or my husband when clearly we have a bit of an advantage in the experience department. I admire your son for committing to something challenging and rigorous, and you for supporting his decision.