Go figure

My boy has a dream. It is not my dream for him.

I had a dream once. It was not my mother’s dream for me.

She pushed and she pulled and she prodded to get me to accept her dream. I nearly did. But despite a high LSAT score, I refused to go to law school. “You’d be so good at the law,” she said. “Yes, Mom, I’d be good at it. But I’d also be miserable,” I responded. “Writing makes me happy. I want to be a journalist, not a lawyer.”

I won that battle. And so here I am. Writing to you.

I remind myself that I knew, at a tender age, what the ether was whispering in my ear. I heard its lullaby: Write. Write. Write. And write some more.

Of course that’s what it whispered. I hear the music in the rhythm of the written word. It’s a cadence. I hear it as I write and as I read good authors. Authors who know how to make the written word sing. Of course I would write. That was written in the stars.

My son hears a different calling. It’s fierce, and bold, and brave. He wants to be an officer in the military.

Deep breath.

I am lucky enough to have a son that wants the military AND college. Thank goodness. My dove self couldn’t handle it otherwise.

My crying, my moaning, my kvetching I have kept to myself thus far. I have not subjected him to it. Why should he not get to pursue his dream with fanfare and encouragement from his mother?

And I like a lot about what the military instills in a boy to make him a man. Discipline. A code of honor. No soldier left behind. The pursuit of excellence as a team. My man-boy could use all of the above.

It’s just the war bit. The fact that the purpose of a well-run military is to protect. And in the process, to kill or be killed.

But I can’t talk about that right now. That’s too much. Too deep. Too soon. My boy will sign up whether I approve or not. He is almost of the age to do so. He will complete basic training before he enters college this fall.

He will begin to pursue his dream. And I hope it’s simply a springboard to a bigger dream. One that does not involve so much danger.

His words to me: “Mom, I won’t do this over the summer if you really are opposed to it. I’ll respect that. But Mom, I want this.”

The little boy who used make-believe guns that were really just sticks from our backyard tree was supposed to grow out of his fascination with soldiers. Instead, he now wants to lead them.

“But Mom, I want this.”

And deep down, if I’m brutally honest with you, I think he sees that perhaps he could become a better man if raised by better men. Men in a black-and-white, no-nonsense, dig-deep inside yourself kind of system.

“But Mom, I want this.”

For that, I applaud him. That is self-knowledge some grown-ass men never show.

He has the aptitude and the desire. All he needs is my backing. Not that he can’t do this without me—but I have a feeling knowing I have his back will help him in some of those dark boot camp hours. I hope knowing that I support his dreams for himself will help him remember who he is when they break him down before they build him up.

And I want “them” to know that I have already built him up. They are coming in at this late date to improve upon a foundation built with my sweat and tears. So they had damn well better do a good job. Keep him safe. Teach him how to keep others safe without getting his sweet self killed.

I am not sure this path for him is written in the stars. But he is.

We must honor our children’s dreams. They are being called to a place and to experiences meant for them. Having nothing to do with our dreams of who or what they should become.

I raised him to listen to his gut. That’s what I called it, knowing it is really the Universe speaking to us.

And the strength to make a strong, tough choice? Well, he tells me that comes from me.

Go figure.



57 Comments Add yours

  1. Kindra says:

    I don’t have any profound words to add other than I will hold your son in my prayers. I also wanted to say; your writing is so beautiful. Your thoughts and statements so clear and precise but deep at the same time. Please continue to share your words, thank you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. Prayers are appreciated—and so are your kind words:).

  2. Kindra says:

    I don’t have any profound words to add other than I will hold your son in my prayers. I also wanted to say; your writing is so beautiful. Your thoughts and statements so clear and precise but deep at the same time. Please continue to share your words, thank you!

    o often with bloggers I find they

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. Prayers always accepted and appreciated! And I appreciate the kind words . . .

  3. nimi naren says:

    Beautiful post. Wishing your son the very best. My best wishes and prayers for you all. There’s nothing nobler than serving one’s country….

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. Prayers are much appreciated!

  4. I have mixed feelings about the military. My first sweetheart was a Navy guy, my father was an Army guy and my husband was Navy. My son briefly considered West Point for college. There’s something about not only a man in uniform, but a man with courage and discipline. A man willing to sacrifice everything for others. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

    Tough words. I truly admire your son’s bravery and your love for him.

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you. All of it. But as a mother, this is so very hard. If I could instill the military discipline without ever having him in danger, best of all worlds . . . thanks for sharing your experience:).

      1. I can only imagine. Sons and mothers share a special bond.

  5. It’s so important to be in tune with the universe and God speaking to us. Probably one of the most important things we can learn in life!!

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree. Getting quiet enough to listen . . .

  6. Aunt Beulah says:

    Oh, this is a wonderful piece. You write so gracefully and openly about the reality of life, and your words always touch me and cause me to think. What a difficult situation for you and life-altering decision for your young man, but together you seem to have found that space where you can draw strength and understanding from one another.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! This is as far from the choice I would make as possible. But I am realizing that I have raised him to be an adult and make his own decisions-and he is doing that. I guess that at least should give me some comfort.

  7. Roy McCarthy says:

    You must be so proud of him Kristine. Worried but proud.

    Some of us never had such dreams. I never did. No disappointment then when they don’t come true. Conversely my son decided at a young age to become a doctor. He never wavered in that. He got there and never regretted it.

    1. candidkay says:

      I will take doctor over soldier any day

  8. stolzyblog says:

    Simply terrifying. Yes, true, but still. Mine is only 5, and we’ve only known him half those years. Adopted. All I saw was unbounded optimism growing up — and I easily placed side my mother’s vision, and my father’s different one as well. Now we need a different sort of warrior; and their prospects appear so problematic compared to mine. How brave to be a child!

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you. But I think these children are different souls than the majority of the older among us. I do believe they’re here to help us change the world.

      1. stolzyblog says:

        I sense this too with him.

  9. When they make their first important life decision, it is the day we watch them leave the nest. Not always easy to do, as it can be filled with uncertainties and doubt, but when you finally see them fly you know it was all worth it. 💕🎈

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh so true. I am sure he will figure it out as he goes. And at a young age, predilections change far more often. I’m counting on that:).

      1. You can definitely count on that! 😀

  10. fritzdenis says:

    Children don’t always understand how much a parent knows and cares about them, but they do respond to love and courage. You’re doing a great job.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. Amazing how very unique each child is, no matter how we raise them. I just hope a solid foundation serves him well as he figures it all out.

  11. George says:

    Your words brought tears to my eyes, Kay. I can’t understand what it must be like to have a child chose the military as his or her path in life. I don’t think anyone can who hasn’t experienced that moment….that fear.
    We can write all the cliches about his dream but the fear is real and cliches don’t cover those feelings. We all know people who have made the military their lives but they’re not our children, not our lives.
    He loves you enough to tell you that he won’t go if you don’t want him to and you love him enough not to deny him his dream. If that’s not reciprocal love of the highest order, I don’t know what is. That’s all you.
    I’ll keep both of you in my prayers.

    1. candidkay says:

      And now you brought me to tears, George :-). Thank you so much. I do know my son well enough to know that he is a boy of high passions. This dream a stick or he may find one that he loves that I can also love, at some point. Here’s hoping for that.

  12. For the best of them, it’s a calling, and he’s obviously got that. It’s obvious, too, that you’ve given him the best kind of foundation on which to build his life: one of strength, confidence, love, and devotion. I know that does little to assuage the worry, though. Big hug.

    1. candidkay says:

      It doesn’t assuage the worry, but it does help. To know that I have tried my best to give him a springboard from which to fly. Even if that springboard has some dents in it :-). Thank you so much for the kind words.

  13. A blue jacket hangs from a chair off to the side of my desk. It is a waist-cut, Air Force jacket worn at one time by my father. It is in great shape, adorned, still, with his captain’s bars. He was a combat pilot, a man who joined the military at a young age because he wanted to serve and thought the country needed him, a man who dreamed of flying, defending and protecting. My dreams and beliefs were very different from his. He listened to my pacifist beliefs. We often disagreed on so many issues, but he told me many years later that he fought for his dreams and was proud I did the same. The jacket, draped over that chair because I didn’t know where else to put it, reminds me of honor, and choices. It reminds me of dreams. And your story of your son’s dream reminds me of how we want our children to pursue their dreams even if they differ greatly from our own. Defining your dream for yourself is an important path toward self-discovery. Pursuing that dream can lead to honor and service to important causes. Thanks for rekindling these feelings.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Kathy, you brought me to tears. What a beautiful story and sentiment. My dad was USAF during WWII, when the Air Force was still called the Army Air Corps. I have already asked my dad to be right beside my son every step of the way. Your father sounds like he was a very wise man. That does not surprise me, given the wisdom that comes through your writing.

  14. So beautifully expressed. The angst while wanting to support our children’s dreams. Seeing how serving his country could benefit him greatly, while being terrified that it could kill him. My mother when through this when my older brother joined ROTC in college and then served. I’m so with you on all counts. As a mother, the last thing I’d want my son to do is join the military. But it can be a good thing for many people.

    Having been to a military style college, I completely understand the bonding and camaraderie that is unique to the military, out of a necessity of being a group of separate individuals together to work as a cohesive unit. They also create a sense of purpose and validation that some people struggle to find in life. Even though I’d been through college before I went to the military styled maritime college, when I graduated from the maritime college, I’d truly grown a pair of balls. The transformation was remarkable.

    Having said all that, one step at a time. You can do this. (Which branch of the military?)

    1. candidkay says:

      Your penultimate sentence has become my mantra:). He’ll be joining the US Army. My dad was Army Air Corps during WWII, which I’m sure you know is now the Air Force. I’m just going to take it one step at a time, which I hope is what he does. Thanks for the support!

  15. Wow. You are a wise parent.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Cynthia. I sure hope so. I hope I don’t look back and think I should have said or done more . . .

  16. Kudos to you, Kristine! You’ve really raised him well. You must be so proud of him and yourself, and he must be proud of himself, too! Well done, woo-hoo!!! 😀 😀 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). I’m not yet to woo-hoo but I’m trying to stay in acceptance. Maybe woo-hoo will come with time!

  17. markbialczak says:

    You are passing along the proper way of thinking, choosing, living. Bravo, Kay.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Mark! At least he is forging his own path.

  18. Kim says:

    My nephew signed at 17, 3rd general Army.
    Basic was done between jr & senior year.
    He joined the Core of Engineers & they paid for college. At 21 he went to Afghanistan putting college on hold.
    My sister and I were a Mess but we Supported him. He said it was an experience and life calling.
    He told me before he shipped out the Universe told him he was to do this.
    We taught him to follow his gut/heart.
    He came home to us whole.
    Where out man/child left the man came home.
    He’s still in the National Guard.
    And has an amazing job at a well known global company.
    He’s still our “baby” at 29.
    He is also a Man.
    You’v done an Awesomely Amazing job!
    I will put y’all on my prayer list because I Do Know.
    The deep proud awe and the terror that lies beneath.
    Thank him for me.
    My sweet boy is only 7, my late life miracle.
    Your son could be my sons hero.
    I love these patterns and intricacies of this life!
    Keep hope alive!

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, you brought me to tears. I’m so glad he is safe and in an amazing job. Prayers gratefully accepted! Hopefully I can get through the messy parts as well as you did!

  19. Elaine says:

    Your son is quite the man! Kudos to you, Mama, for raising him so well.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, friend. ❤️

  20. Dale says:

    Bravo to you, Kristine. You are doing a brilliant job. And I know you must be scared to death at the same time as you are proud as can be.

    My son originally wanted to join the Canadian military (which I convinced myself wasn’t as bad) but then changed his mind. I think it would have done him some good, truth be told. However, I must watch as he makes various choices towards becoming the man he wants to be.

    And then I have to look at the younger one do the same…

    This parenting thing ain’t a piece of cake, that’s for sure!

    1. candidkay says:

      You nailed it. Trying to focus on the positives but I’m not crazy about the idea overall. You’re right. Being a good mama is not for sissies!

      1. Dale says:

        No way! 😘

  21. Well that’s harder than my young son wanting to be a priest when we are not even Catholic. I hear you sister.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, lol! Are you kidding?! Life really IS stranger than fiction. The dove raises an officer and the non-Catholic raises a priest!

  22. lol…corrupting influences those parents, teaching them to follow their hearts…and then balk when they do 😀
    You have done well Kristine, you can hit him over the head later down the track with his kit bag for all the worry it causes you 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      I may do just that, Mark!

  23. That’s scary I think

    1. candidkay says:

      If you think so, imagine how I feel

      1. You are stronger than I am. You can withstand the fear

  24. I am very proud of both of you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). He’s the brave one.

  25. DeniseBalog says:

    Thank you for sharing your story of you and your boy. As a Mom of a 19 year son, he will always be my boy. Watching him attend college and grow into the man he will be is hard. My very military father helped watch him daily in his preschool days and he too has a strong desire to be disciplined and is in love with our Country. He has not made the decision to serve but I know it is not far from his mind. Thank you for sharing and we will include him in our daily prayers for our servicemen and women.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, thank you! Prayers welcomed and appreciated. Hoping your son makes the decision that’s right for him . . .

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