Sunday, June 9, 2013

The traditional non traditional

It is an interesting thing watching your child move from dependent to independent.  Looking back on my own transition from child to adult I can imagine how hard it must have been for my parents and appreciate that they let me make my own decisions and supported me throughout.

I have never made a traditional decision.  Conceptually I have always wanted to, I want to be the person who fits in, does what everyone else does, follows the crowd.  Conceptually that just sounds easier.  But I am not, I never have been and I never will be that person.  And while I struggled with that when I was younger, I embrace that in myself now as an adult.  Revel in it really.

So it should really come as absolutely no surprise that my son is choosing a non-traditional path.  In fact he too has never chosen a traditional path but, unlike me, he has always embraced that part of himself. I have loved seeing the fun and enjoyment he has had throughout his childhood as a result.  My husband was like that when he was younger too, always non-traditional and proud of it.

Jake has been talking a lot about enlisting in the army lately. John and I have been supportive but we have had lots of questions.  We want to be sure he understands what he is getting into and where he is going with this.  We don't want the army to be a 3 year run-away-home decision.  At least not totally. We aren't opposed to this being an I-don't-know-what-I-want-to-do-but-I-don't-want-to-live-at-home-while-I-am-figuring-it-out decision.  He tell us it is a, this-is-what-I-really-want-to-do-when-I-grow-up decision.  Which is exciting.

This week I had an opportunity to go to the recruiter with Jake, hear about what he is doing and ask questions.  Initially Jake didn't want me to go, he wanted to do this on his own, be independent.  I get that, you don't want your mommy to come down to the recruiters office and hold your hand.  But I wasn't going down there to do the work for him, I wanted to go so I could understand.  I think in the pursuit of independence kids sometimes miss the opportunity to get the support and encouragement they need from their parents. Somehow I caught him at a weak moment, he was about to walk out the door to the recruiters office and probably thinking I couldn't be ready fast enough he said I could come.

While I was supportive before the visit, something I always tried to make clear amidst all my questioning, now that I have been there and asked my questions I am fully supportive.  And I feel like I understand what he is doing enough to ask questions that do not sound like challenges.  I know how to encourage him, I understand the opportunities before him and am ready to be an Army mom.  Hooah!

He hasn't signed on the dotted line quite yet, there are still a few details to iron out but likely next fall my son will enter boot camp and begin a grand adventure.  If we were a traditional family that did things in traditional ways, high school with a sport, college in 4 years, get a job, get married, buy a house, have 2 kids, work, retire, die, if we were those people, this might seem like a pretty crazy plan and I would fear he would never finish college as a result of dropping out. I might worry that he won't live a normal life.  But we aren't that family, not between John and I, not between any of our siblings or our parents.  So why should Jake be different?

I think I was hoping he would be different.  That part of me that always wanted to be normal was hoping my son would be "normal".  He will break the non-traditional pattern and go straight to college and get his degree.  But I forgot something really important...nothing in his childhood would lead him to traditional.

And so my success in parenting is realizing that I have raised Jake to be a Hardacker.  To follow his own path no matter what anyone else is doing, to think outside the box and to embrace who he is and who God has uniquely created him to be.  With that realization I continue to release him to his own life and is own decisions knowing that he is listening to God's voice and following the path set before him.  Time for me to sit back and enjoy the show.

2008 when we went to see Sam after finishing boot camp.  We knew then  and I had to have this picture

One of my favorites from ROTC this past year.

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