Over the past month, I’ve seen references to the dandelion being the official flower of the military child. Ignoring the fact that it seems quite silly to have a flower represent a population and bypassing the fuzziness surrounding the word official (who exactly decreed such a proclamation? Congress? The President? Random dude on the Internet?), the idea is sweet. The “flowers” (picture me using Dr. Evil air-quotes) are resilient, they put down roots anywhere, they bloom wherever the winds carry them, and they survive in a broad range of climates – just like the children of those who serve in the armed forces.
My children are relatively young and still of the age where they love to pick dandelions and gift them to me as tokens of their adoration. The simplest dandelion held by dirty little fingers accompanied by a beaming smile sure is a beautiful sight. Our move to Texas in a couple of months means that come June, Weston will have lived in five different states by age six and Violet will have lived in three different states before turning three. Sometimes I wonder if we’re doing a disservice to our children by uprooting them every couple of years (or earlier) but then I remind myself of the famed Eleanor Roosevelt quote – “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”
I took this picture of our son on an extremely hot July day during our time in Oklahoma. It is one of my favorites – a framed copy currently hangs in our dining room. The juxtipostion of a the mature oak tree with unseen roots providing shade to a two-year-old little boy almost always gives me pause. Our children won’t have traditional roots planted firmly in an area encompassed by extended family and familiar surroundings. Rather their roots will be far-reaching and strongly anchored with love in our little family of four. As parents, we will provide shade during the times of transition but eventually their own resiliency will allow them to bloom no matter the environment – just like dandelions.
But at the end of the day, my children are just that – children. Curious, adventurous, stubborn, amazing, lovable, and terrific children. The fact that their father is in the military doesn’t define them – it is just one of the many factors that comprise their lives. Every child has their own story – the military just happens to be apart of our children’s.
April is Month of the Military Child. If you’re looking for a way to help military children, check out Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships for children of military members killed in action and wounded warriors. You can also donate to the USO.