Yesterday at around Noon EST, my first born child, my daughter, enlisted in the United States Navy. This article cannot contain the PRIDE I feel right now! This is the same kid who has struggled through the last 2-years of life undecided about what to do with her future. She's extremely bright, she's always done well in school and has almost perfect grades for the year she spent in college, but like many other young people her age, she just hasn't been able to decide what she wants to do with her life. Yesterday, all that changed.
We weren't surprised when her recruiter came out of the testing room after Ashley had taken her practice ASVAB test (like a military entrance exam) and said "Wow! She did really well!". I never doubted for a second that she would ace it :)
For two years Ashley has walked around in somewhat of a daze bouncing between our house and her grandparents house trying to find her way. Within 3-days of suggesting the military as an option, her entire life has changed. She's gone from this introvert, moody, quiet person to blossoming with excitement and eagerness to take this next step in her life. I knew it was the right thing when I see the excitement in her eyes. I've never seen her look like that about anything before. I just KNEW she had FINALLY found her way.
As a mom, there have been many times when I have questioned my parenting skills and methods. I've always reverted back to old fashioned family values and traditions with my kids, the way my parents did with my brother and I. It's important to me, and will be to them one day, to know these values and family traditions so that they can be passed on to their children. If you're a parent, you know it isn't always easy, heck, it's RARELY easy and if you have more than one child (we have 3), then you can relate to the mother animals that eat their young, ESPECIALLY during those turbulent teenage years.
Yesterday, all of the blood, sweat, and tears become worth it. All of the hard work and persistence, all of the arguments, eye rolls, mumbling under her breath, etc. all became worth it when the child I least expected to do it, stepped up to the plate and made a serious adult decision, loaded with responsibility and challenges. She now eagerly awaits the next step in this most incredible journey she has chosen to take.
I was a single mom for 7-years. During those years, I often worried that I wouldn't be enough. I worried that it would be impossible to instill the values that would develop good character and values that a in-tact family has. Then I realized that way too many families with both parents are failing to teach these precious traditions and values. After 7 years of being a single mom, I met and married my husband Michael who shares my sense of values and believes in the old-fashioned traditions that make a family so precious. As Ashley signed her first set of papers committing herself to the military, we both sat with tears in our eyes. We did it! One down...two to go! And the other two seem to be heading in the right direction too! Our youngest daughter, Cassie is planning a career in law enforcement when she graduates in May, she's already a senior police explorer and her sisters decision has inspired her to consider enlisting as well since she can't enter the police academy until she is 21. She is going to decide on her 18th birthday in March. Either way, she has her life mapped out and our son, the baby, is enlisting in the US Air Force upon graduation in a little less than 2 years. Obviously, we've done something right.
As my kids get older they are starting to appreciate the old-fashioned, family traditions that I have made part of our lives. People can say whatever they want about old-fashioned values, but when it comes to rearing kids, it's my opinion that they are invaluable in teaching them that there is more to life than iPods, XBox, and cell phones. These conveniences have robbed and separated families from the most important traditions and simple activities that strengthened families 20 or 30 years ago. Too many parents are raising their kids via text messages and e-mail and there's something wrong with a parent who depends on Facebook to keep up with their kids daily lives. What good can come from this? How can parents be surprised when their kids go off and make major mistakes that will effect them for the rest of their lives like getting pregnant, using drugs, etc? Parents only have themselves to blame.
When we moved to Tennessee and began living a simple country life, we allowed that lifestyle to spread to all areas of our lives, including our parenting. It's obvious that it was the right thing to do. My kids have iPods and cell phones, but we've taught them that these things are only THINGS... they will never replace the importance of our family dinners each night or our day trips to the national park or even doing chores around the house together. They certainly don't replace or even come close to being as awesome as a day spent in the kitchen with my daughter baking or cooking or out in the garden with my husband.
NOTHING is more rewarding than the one-on-one face time I spend with my family. You want my opinion? Pick at least one day a week that cell phones, iPods, video games and TV are off limits and spend time with your family face-to-face. You'd be surprised at what you're missing,
In closing, I want to say how VERY PROUD I am of my daughter. Way to go Ashley! The courage and responsibility it took to choose the path you've chosen was a wise and brave decision. We're so very proud of you and we know you're going to do a great job serving our country!