My daughter begins her senior year of high school this fall. We live in a world of emotional ups and down, punctuated by senior picture appointments and college applications. We have volunteer hours obligations, service academy deadlines, and DODMERB medical appointments. In short, it's Al's world, and we're just living in it. More accurately, it's her world and I'm her taxi driver, fee payer and laundry doer.
This is just the start of a crazy year. As frustrating as this year will be, it is the last step before she flies the nest. And, dear God, is she ready to fly.
Our daughter wants to attend the Naval Academy - more than breathing itself, she wants to go to Annapolis. In preparation for that, we spent all day yesterday driving from one appointment to the next all in the name of DODMERB (I'm guessing that's the Dept. of Defense Medical Review Board, or some approximation thereof). We did her physical, an audiogram and optometry exam. In North Carolina, of all places, as directed by the forms she received in the mail. Five hours, and two annoying little brothers later, it hit me: this was another wicket. She is one step closer to leaving the house. One step closer to joining the military.
We had our daughter when we were very young. I had just turned 20 when I gave birth. My husband has always been onboard these "extremely arduous sea duty" ships. He's missed incredible amounts of her life: milestones and minutia, the highs and lows and way too much of the in between time. But I've been there. And, until four years ago when we adopted our sons, it has been the two of us against the world. She and I. My buddy and me. And now, I am one step closer to losing that.
On one hand, I am incredibly proud of her. She is brilliant, witty, and carries herself with grace. She spent time at the Academy this summer, and loved it. That is her tribe. It's where she belongs.
On the other hand, I want to nail her shoes to the floor. I picture me clinging to her ankles, trying to keep her from leaving, begging her not to leave me. It's incredibly selfish and pretty pathetic, really. I just don't know what I am going to do without her.
This also changes my status as a mother. I go from being the mother of a high schooler, to the mother of a service member. I know it will be years from now, but the idea of her being in harm's way is the stuff of nightmares. I spent the last 16 years protecting her - only to willingly sign paperwork to potentially send her to a war zone? And the other thing is, as a military spouse, I know how military life works. I know that adult children-slash-service members only make it home to see family around once a year. That is completely unacceptable to me. See her once a year? I can't imagine only seeing her once a week!
I don't know how I am supposed to deal with this. It just really sucks. I'm still holding out that I can convince her of the merits of library science and being a hometown librarian who lives with her parents her entire life. I mean, there's a chance, right?