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.
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.