When our son was about two, I looked at my husband and said something like: “He’s either going to be a Monk or a Navy Seal”.
Both options frightened me in that doting kind of way mothers have for their toddlers. You know what I mean. Even if you’ve never been a parent, you know the syndrome. Hyperbolic language proffered with a smile that says you’ll be able to protect them no matter what they chose to do and by sheer will alone the Universe will bow to your omnipotent parentalism and see them safe, secure, healthy and happy.
Our son is now 17. Yesterday I took him motorcycle shopping.
I shouldn’t be worried about him learning to ride since I ride, his dad rides, and I purchased his sister’s first bike—although she no longer rides. The motorcycle is one thing. Although it, and learning to ride is indicative of the kind of optimism that says I can control my environment by being cautious, vigilant and following the rules.
Enter the scare factor….
My son wants to go to law school, then join the FBI. That’s not the scary part.
Before he applies to the FBI he wants to be an Air Force pararescue specialist. The training alone is a two year commitment. These specialists are elite special forces. Their job is to insert themselves into highly volatile environments to rescue injured soldiers. I’m sure there is more to it than that, but that is what they do.
“That Others May Live”, is their creed. It’s what they live and die by.
I know I can’t save my children from whatever life has in store for them—who should want to “save” their children from life at all? Still, as I’m typing this, I’m fiercely proud of the young adults my children are and the people they have always been.
I’ve got a medical student caretaker.
I’ve got a would-be warrior-monk-caretaker.
I worry more about the one with the deeply spiritual bent who is bound and determined to serve his country in the capacity he sees as the best one for him, but, that said, once you let them out the door to experience all the wonder, the adventure and the sometimes sublime and often overt beauty of the world, there is no going back to those childhood days of hand holding and the illusion of parental control.
I have two incredible children who are now adults. I’m trying to let go, to be supportive, and to be the person they know will take on a battalion of bad-guys when-and-if they need me. Still, it’s damn hard knowing that the monk part of my warrior children put them each in harm’s way. I wonder sometimes if my parents felt this way when I went into prisons to represent those who needed representation. Something tells me, they didn’t. Not in the same way. Guess I’ve got some growing up to do.