The Power of Dandelions

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.

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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.” 

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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.

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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.

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7 thoughts on “The Power of Dandelions

  1. Rachel M (@ramcquiston) April 8, 2016 / 10:41 am

    Oh Karen, this is so sweet! I won’t lie: I worry about the affect the military lifestyle will have on our future children. But I see so many other families making it work and raising great kids, that I’m constantly feeling better about it.

    • Karen April 12, 2016 / 8:05 am

      Thank you so much, Rachel. We were married five years before we had children so we had a while to accommodate ourselves to the military lifestyle before adding teammates…that helped, I think.

  2. Jen April 8, 2016 / 11:53 am

    This is amazing! I absolutely love this post.

    • Karen April 12, 2016 / 8:05 am

      Thanks Jen, you are going to be an AMAZING mother!

  3. Shay April 11, 2016 / 9:27 am

    I still follow you even though I have left Fort Belvoir. I now manage IHG Army Fort Benning and was hoping you guys were coming this way! Speaking as a military brat who was born in Bangkok and went to 13 different schools before high school, although it hurt at the time I would not now trade it for anything. I am General Manager of a 920 room hotel on a military post and it was a tough road to get here because you know us military kids are not rich! I employ many “military brats” like me and I see the same characteristics. Strong shoulders, resilience and most important, high adaptability. I may still stink at math because every school I went to was at a different place in math (and English for that matter!) so I never seemed to get the fundamentals (my sister did better in International School for consistency) but “nowadays” we have access to all that info lightning fast so book learning is no longer the primary driver. Adaptability will always be more important. Your children will be more poised than most, will be more nimble thinkers than most and they will be able to adapt to any person and any environment (and probably be better at reading people) than most civilians. I promise!

    • Karen April 12, 2016 / 8:06 am

      Thank you so much, Shay! If we ever find ourselves at Fort Benning, I’ll be sure to stop in and say hi. 🙂

  4. Amanda April 12, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    This is a great post. Having a military parent is just a small part of our kids life. Will it always be a part of their life? Yes.. but not the ONLY part. It will not define them… that’s for sure.

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