Sunday, March 8, 2015


I'm participating in the Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers this month. 
Every day, for the month of March, 
I will be capturing a slice of my life.
I'm on a borrowed PC computer while my Apple is in the shop. 
I can't figure out how to download the SLICE graphic on this computer.

Not sure why, but I thought parenting 
would get easier
as the boys got older.
That hasn't been the case.
At all.

Both boys are incredibly gifted athletes.
Went to college for a while. 
But they are both home now. 
Supposedly looking for jobs.
But mostly, as far as I can tell,
sitting around doing nothing
except hanging out on the internet
taking advantage of Colorado's legal substance rules
and eating me out of house and home. 

They need to do something. 

Son #2 tells me he wants to join the Air Force. 
My heart leaps into my throat.
I am not excited about my boys joining the military.
The world is an unstable place right now.
I think about all the stories I have read. 
I worry about them being killed.
Or coming back with limbs missing.

Most of all, I worry about PTSD.
My boys already have some pretty serious scars
from being abandoned by their biological mom
and living for years in an abusive foster care situation.
I can't imagine them any more damaged
or less functional.

But they need to do something.

I ask why the Air Force.
K tells me it would be a career.
His basketball coach,
 probably the most significant male in his life,
is the son of a 26-year veteran.
It was a good career for him,
K tells me.

He has clearly done some investigating.
Talked to a recruiter.
He would go to Lackland for eight weeks.
Come back here for a short break.
Then go to technical school.
The Air Force would pay for college.
And his goal, eventually,
is to join the special forces.

I try to remain calm.
Do you understand 
that this is a commitment?
Once you join,
 they don't let you quit.
How long would you have to stay in?

I try to breathe.
To be the mom he needs. 

He doesn't know.
But tells me 
he thinks it would teach him 
to persevere.
That's definitely something 
I have not been able to teach him. 

The problem is, he continues
that he has an outstanding traffic ticket.
He can't enlist until he comes up with the money to pay it.
I had previously told him
That I wasn't going to pay the ticket.
 I was done paying for stupid mistakes.
He has actually secured a job
working security at concert and sports venues
and can start as soon
as I loan him
three hundred dollars
for uniform clothes and shoes.
If I would pay the $179 ticket
he could go.

A lot of scenarios dance through my head.
I could loan him 
the money for the clothes
chances are slim to none I would
ever see that money again
so he could work
and pay off the ticket.
That's what I said I was going to do. 

If I paid it, he could move forward 
with the Air Force thing.

I try again to breathe. 
If he doesn't like the Air Force
I know he will say
it's my fault
that I forced him into something
he didn't want to do.

If I tell him he shouldn't do it
He will sit at my kitchen table 
horsing around on the internet
and smoking and chewing tobacco
for the next _____ years,
telling me that I kept him 
from doing what he wanted to do. 

Parenting is the hardest job I have ever done. 
And it doesn't get any easier. 
In fact, I think it gets harder

Every. Single.  Year.


LibraryDragon/Storykeeper said...

Your writing reveals the struggle you are experiencing. You capture that angst and open the door for your reader to journey with you.

As a reader your writing makes connections to my life. Tough love is hard on parents. Years ago I remember taking a PET - Parent Effectiveness Training class and later Love and Logic. I was 19 and my younger sister lived with me. I did not have a clue on how to nurture a teenager. Fortunately she turned out great despite everything I did.

Unlike when we were young and wanted to be "big", the reality of being an adult is scary. Most of us would put it off as long as possible. Remind yourself that the choices you are making is not to make your sons' lives easier but to equip them with the tools to create a life for themselves.

Jennifer Laffin said...

My heart breaks for the struggles you are going through. Yes, parenting is the most difficult job we will ever do. It is a thankless, lonely, unsure time when we know that every decision we make will have some kind of impact on our children -- good or bad. Keep breathing your way through it.


Ramona said...

Carol, your words capture so well the dilemma you're facing. Praying for you and yours. The boys are lucky to have you in their lives!

writekimwrite said...

No easy answers here. Keep writing Carol! I keep praying, too. No easy answers here but we hear you and you are not alone!

elsie said...

What a no-win situation for you. This is the struggle parents have but you have added issues because of the life your boys had before you. said...

This poem is so honest and the slice is heartbreaking because you can see your struggle. My kids are young, but I can see that even though I can sleep a little more than I used to, and there are no diapers in sight... things aren't getting easier, just different.

Rissa said...

Oh said it. Parenting definitely doesn't get easier. I wish we realize how "easy" we had it when they were small. Have faith; trust your son to make the right decision with your guidance and financial help. I think it's better for him to blame you that he made the wrong decision than for him to hold it against you that you didn't let him make it. Praying for you.

Tara said...

I was so interested in what your son thought he needed from the Air Force. I was reminded of my husband's cousin who said the same thing about enlisting as a marine some 30 years ago, when he was in a bad, bad place in his life. All I can say is that it worked for him - more than all the love of his parents could while he was at home, getting into scrape after scrape. I am thinking of you, Carol.

Karen said...

Carol - you are so right about it getting harder. I think about my own daughters, and I realize the issues that have dealt with in their 20s have bigger implications than the ones that happened in high school or even college. They want to be treated as adults, yet sometimes they act like anything but.

Best of luck to you in deciding what to do in your scenario.

Michelle said...

I guess what "they" say is true -- the bigger the kids, the bigger the problems. I'm sorry you are living this, but know how much strength, patience, love, compassion and so on you are showing your boys. Decisions will be made and lives will be changed ... and you can only do what God asks you to do. Be there. Be their Mom. You are doing a great job! Just keep praying.

Linda B said...

I don't know any easy answers, wish I did for your sake, Carol. For you, would it help to talk to your minister? I think you go to church. Talking through this with someone might be helpful. My best thing, although others did different things was to plow through day by day and stick to what you think is right. Kids can turn any argument into a "this is your fault, not mine" & we know they do, although it still hurts. Ugh, wish it was easy! Hugs to you every single day!

Teresa said...

Oh, AMEN, sister, friend!!!! I remember thinking when my boys were younger that it would get easier. I'm still waiting for that part. Hang in there!!! What a gift you are to your boys.

Nanc said...

Hard, hard and not easier because you love so much and so big. I will pray for them, from afar, I will pray. They are special boys and they are getting bored and antsy. I'm not so high on military either, but today I went to the Great Lakes military hospital with my dad for an eye appointment. The boys and girls there who were serving in reception were so genuine and kind. xo nanc...PS I know that insanity of just sitting around...also Starbucks worked good for Jeff and then he also tried working for Fed X during the holiday...also good. Work is good.