It’s strange to think of the baby you once held in your arms, whose dimpled little hand you held to cross the street, whose giggling, silly antics could make his younger brother collapse in fits of laughter so great his knees grew weak, as being a man sometimes.
And yet, I look at Troy, my oldest, now 17, and am amazed by him and all that he has become. Physically, he towers over me, tall and lean, a lifeguard at a local pool, ready to begin work on his Eagle Scout project, one of only 45 students from around the country selected to participate in the Friends of the NRA Youth Education Summit in Washington DC (a program I can’t say enough good things about!), already accepted, with a scholarship for high SAT scores as a junior, into a top engineering school, could I go on???
I still look at this boy and see the kid who forgot to put his shoes on every day last year as we pulled up to the school – in January! I still see the toddler I held as he lay on the floor convulsing with febrile seizures and my fear of losing him made me shake ashard as he was. I still see the boy who ran with that uncertain, fearful look in his eye to catch the bus on that first day of kindergarten alone because I still had two younger babies and we were running late as usual. I still see his little face in the bus window as it drove off and I still want to redo that day and make it the perfect first day of school that it should have been. I still remember the poem he wrote when his father left, “Once…”
I still wonder about him and how I send him out into the world to be married one day when I can’t get him to put his shoes away or understand that part of clearing your dishes means putting away your glass too or get him to bring down his laundry every day rather than in a giant, smelly heap once a millennium or how I will ever explain to his Someday wife that I really did try to teach him to put down the toilet seat???
I will always remember him as no one else ever can.
I remember his flaws and his graces, his downfalls and his strengths, his failures and his triumphs.
And I have loved him through it all.
I love him as only a mother could love him.
And now, as he enters his senior year of high school and college looms in the not so distant future, I am constantly reminded that the way I see him is not entirely the way he is. Yes, part of him will always be that little boy on the school bus or that kid who forgot his shoes. Part of each of us is always that little kid we once were, but now he is more and, as much as I try to hold onto the child I held and loved and raspberried and tickled, I am reminded every day that he is fast becoming a man.
And one of those reminders knocked on my door yesterday.
Seargent K called a few days ago and spoke with Troy about joining the army, and Troy scheduled this appointment, and as I sat and listened to the young man give his Army shpiel, it occurred to me that the Army didn’t see what I saw. The Army saw a young man, physically, intellectually ready for their use.
And my respect for our Military – and for the families who kiss their loved ones good-bye – rose just a bit more. I again thought of how, without these men and women, the life of a single mom in America would be very different, VERY DIFFERENT, and of how much we owe them.
I looked at my son sitting next to me and of how well he would do at any one of the many non-combat Army jobs available but wondered about the combat end of things. What does that do to the mind and soul of a human being? Silent prayers and pleadings for the well being of our troops rose from my kitchen table as Seargent K continued offering Troy the opportunity to take a practice ASVAB.
Troy took the laptop and I ran through things in my mind.
With the cost of college tuition so high and my inability to pay, a program like ROTC or the Reserves might not be such bad idea or maybe he should look into West Point, Annapolis, or the Air Force Academy, but I’m not sure I see him being organized and structured enough to love it in those institutions.
But then again, I still see him as my little boy.
Uncle Sam sees him with eyes I don’t have.
20 minutes later, Troy announced he was done. Seargent K turned his laptop around and said simply,
Troy had scored a 99 – a perfect ASVAB score meaning he could get pretty much any job he wanted as long as it is available. Troy smiled just a bit and made an appointment to go with Seargent K in a few weeks to take the official ASVAB at our state’s capitol.
And I sat there proud of my son but longing to hold onto my baby just a bit longer.
I don’t know what decision Troy will make regarding the Military. He can talk to me all he wants. I will listen and love him – always, but this is something he needs to decide on his own. There are huge benefits but also potentially devastating downfalls. Could he take those downfalls – could I?
He is no longer my little boy. He is a young man now and has a man’s decisions and responsibilities which he will accept more each day. This is what I raised him for – this letting go.
I will ask him to pray (as I certainly will!) about this before moving forward and then we will both have to trust God to make the best of whatever decision is made.
My Love and respect for our Military and their families rises again today. Thank you to all who Serve and to all who Serve those who Serve. God Bless America, Land of the free because of the Brave.
Please stop and say a prayer for all our Military members and their families. If your son or daughter has joined a branch of the Military, I’d love to hear your thoughts.