When Parenting Means Surrendering
The biggest and scariest thing I have ever had to do as a parent was surrender, admit defeat, find my faults as a mother and ask for help. I had to come to this conclusion on my own and make a choice to move forward. This choice was to send my then 12-year old son away to military school.
Let me back up and fill you in on a little bit of our history first. I met and married the father of my children in 1995. There we were, starting our family with one girl and one boy. We both decided that I would be a stay at home mom and I was one for ten years. The kids were 8 and 10 years old when their father died.
The first few years after the death of my husband is kind of like a blur and I am sure I did not handle everything in a desirable manner. I made mistakes, a lot of them. The adjustment to single parenthood was quite bumpy and to boot I was a working single parent. I hated it. My heart goes out to all the single working parents out there.
Eventually I remarried a Gentleman from my past that was a dear and close friend. We managed to morph into a new family. By this time, my oldest was entering in to her teenage years and my son was getting ready to enter middle school.
Around this time my son was diagnosed with ADHD, which helped to explain a lot of his decisions and behavior. When it came time for him to actually enter into middle school I knew we had a problem. He spent 6th grade in public school. This year, for all of us, was quite strenuous.
In between family counseling and being newly diagnosed with ADHD I made a choice to send my 12-year-old son away to military school where he could find structure and routine, something I was unable to give him. Making this decision nearly destroyed me. I finally had to come to the conclusion that this was not about me and my parenting skills, or lack thereof but it was about what was best for my son. I had to surrender. I needed something bigger for my son.
Now, think about that for a minute, here I am trying to do the best for my family. My son just lost his real father three short years ago, now I am remarried and sending my son off to military school. Yeah, you better believe I felt like the scum of the earth.
Thank goodness my son didn’t see it that way. He wanted to go once I finally worked up the nerve to tell him that he was going to military school, a school that was 3.5 hours away and that meant he would be staying there, only coming home once a month, if he earned the right because that is how they operated. Come to find out they would also get all the regular breaks such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break as well.
The school provides the structure and routine that my son craves. The classroom setting is another reason I felt moved to send him to this particular school. A smaller classroom with about 10 to 12 boys meant my son would get the individual attention I felt he needed from a teacher.
Does his being away at military school diminish my parenting responsibilities? No, of course not. I am still his mother. I still have the ultimate responsibility for my kids, both of them. It just happens that one is here with us living a normal regular teenage (girl) life and the other one goes away to military academy. He is still Tyler. He is still my son. We still have all of the regular parenting things to deal with such as grades, attitude, imparting morals and values. He’ll come home during the summer and take driver’s education and get his license. I’ll still have the butterflies in my stomach letting him drive the car with me in it like I did when my daughter did it two years ago.
Our experience has not been all tulips and roses, however, I do believe in my heart of hearts that the military school is where my son needs to be but it’s still not easy. Yes, I still question my decision. I probably always will. Ultimately, though, my son will grow into a man without my permission and he will have to start making his own adult decisions. I believe his experience at the military academy will come in handy when that day comes.
I’ve written about my experience with this subject extensively and it can be found online as a creative nonfiction essay at Dew On The Kudzu.
Read the full story of The Boy here… https://todaysdeepsouth.blogspot.com/2011/12/boy.html
This is such a beautiful article, Carol. Your children are lucky to have such an amazing woman as their mother.
Wow, that is awesome Carol! Takes a strong person to admit when you are weak. Great post my friend.
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