Friday, October 21, 2011

Letting Loose

It’s been easy to justify not coming to this place. There are lists of things to do, as I’m still setting up insurance and doctors for all six of us, in three different states. There are new deductibles to figure out and paperwork to file. Open Season is on the horizon and, as new folks in this state, there’s even more incentive to review each plan carefully. There’s never an end to the things I could do in a day.

But I had a chance meeting with a blogging mom I’ve never met and her blog inspired me to get back to it. They are in the process of moving too, but she’s been much better about documenting the changes their family is going through. It reminded me of the original point of my blog.

I started my blog as a way to document our life. The adventures we took, the places we discovered, the challenges we met along the way. I also wanted to write down what it’s like, being a mom with a bionic leg. I kept up with this blog for a long time.

Then I started writing the parenting column for the newspaper. It was a ‘real’ deadline, due every Monday. It forced me to think about what was going on in our household, and explain it in an interesting way, in 900 words or less. I started to get lazy, and just relied on the column to be my consistent blog post.

I missed out on writing about a lot of little stuff, stuff that didn’t make it to the paper. I suddenly felt like everything I put on the blog had to be refined and polished. I put off coming here because I felt like I didn’t have time to meet that criteria.

But my new blogging mommy friend reminded me that this is not a formal setting. This is not a column I get paid for. I can write here every day, six times a day, if I want. It can be thoughts off the top of my head, or just an interesting picture. It’s my forum, not a bosses.

So here we go. Back to the original purpose. Today I’m going to write about….hmmmm…..what should I write about?

How about a simple moment that happened last night, in a quiet corner of my son’s bedroom? Sam and I have been reading a book called “Cracker”. It’s about a service dog from the Vietnam War, the kind that were trained to sniff out danger.

Sam picked it from the school library because it had a German Shepherd on the front cover. Oh, and some war scenes. What could be better than dogs and war?

He had saved it for my arrival in Colorado. The first night I was here, back with ‘my boys’, we dove in. It’s a long book, so we’ve been chipping away, chapter by chapter. It’s a wonderful story about a boy who gives his dog to the Army, to be trained as a service dog, and the young soldier who becomes his master. There were many good life lessons in its chapters, as well as history lessons.

The most striking was in the last chapters, that we read last night. The soldier is returning home from war, after almost losing his life in a rice paddy, and the pilot of the plane acknowledges him and his fellow soldiers over the loudspeaker. Then he advises them to change into civilian clothes, before they leave the plane, so as not to stir up conflict.

This was a hard concept for my 10 year old patriotic boy to handle. He lives in a world where people understand that soldiers don’t start the wars, they fight them. His view of the world includes people clapping for men in uniform as they get off planes from far away countries. It was hard for me, emotionally, to read the parts about the reality of a very different time in America. But it was an important thing for my boy to hear about.

During the last battle he had to fight, the young soldier loses his dog in the chaos. He has to live through recovery and rehab, not knowing if his dog survived. It becomes his mission to find him and bring him home.

(Spoiler Alert…) In the last chapters of the book, the dog is found, by a fellow dog handler, and eventually reunited with his own soldier handler. It’s an understatement to say it was an emotional ending.

I generally don’t like to ‘go there’. After my mom died, and I really felt out of control with my emotions, I have held a tighter reign on them. I cry. But not often and rarely in front of my boys. If I let myself analyze it further, it might have something to do with not wanting to start, not knowing how deep the tears might go.

But in recent years I’ve noticed that it’s not just me, and my raw emotions. Most moms are sappy and cry at silly things like book endings and movies. It doesn’t make me out of control. It makes me sensitive and real.

So I plunged on in Sam’s book. I’m embarrassed to say I almost let his dad read him the last few chapters, knowing I could avoid the tears altogether. But dad was helping Sam’s big brother with a biology assignment and the sciences are not my strength.

Within a few pages we were deep in the emotional stuff. But I just took a deep breath and moved on. Then my voice cracked. Sam could see I was feeling the emotions and he was wiping tears from his own eyes. I looked at him and we both broke into laughter, at our weepy selves.

Then we dug through the rest, short chapter after short chapter. I paused when it got hairy and sad, we giggled some at the shared emotions, then we moved on. And we did it. We got to the end and snapped the book closed feeling very satisfied indeed.

I love sharing a deeper book with my boy. There’s a place for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but sharing a story with fleshed out characters is a real joy. He learned a lot about a part of history he’d never heard about before, a whole legion of dogs who went to the Vietnam War and saved a lot of lives.

And his mama learned to let her hair down a bit, and not be afraid of the tears.

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