There are no two ways about it, 2018 has not been a good year for the Smiths. Scratch that, 2018 has sucked out loud and I am genuinely looking forward to kicking it to the curb (though, frankly, the way our luck has been going, there’s no guarantee that 2019 will be any better).
That has made the USNA roller coaster even more volatile for us. So when November 15 came near, I wanted to be excited about service selection, that special day when the firsties find out what warfare community they will join upon commissioning. And why shouldn’t I have been excited? My son had just helped the sprint football team thump Army to win the league title and a number of his teammates would transition from celebrating to worrying rather quick.
While there was one firstie, in particular, I had thought about quite a bit – he wanted to go SEALS in the worst way – I otherwise kept blocking service selection from my mind. When big Academy moments arrive, I’m usually all over Facebook, trying to help more novice parents prepare and understand what’s happening. Not this year. As it came and went, I celebrated briefly that the aforementioned Mid had gotten the call to be a SEAL, then put the whole thing to the back of my mind.
The combination of a bad year and a holiday were enough, but I came to realize there was something else. The roller coaster ride is hitting the backstretch and the end will soon be in sight. This is the last service selection before my Mid finds out which community he’ll join.
And that’s tough enough … we had been told that time at the Academy is broken into three parts – Plebe Summer, Plebe Year and the rest of the four years. My assessment? Accurate. And that’s OK. Really, it is.
Selfishly, I want to enjoy it, but I’d be lying if I said I was, especially the past year. It’s not just the big things that have gone wrong, it’s a million and one little things. And all of it makes it exceedingly difficult to stop and say, “hey, enjoy this moment because it will soon be gone.”
I want to be the guy that keeps it all in perspective. I want to be the guy who can push aside the bad stuff long enough to revel in those great moments. But I am not always that guy. I am too often the selfish, self-pitying guy who wallows in his misfortune and doesn’t take the time to realize a lot of great things are happening.
My Mid, the good sport, took time out of his Thanksgiving weekend to take a Santa picture with the Mid Sib only because he knew it would make his parents happy. I should be thankful for that.
I’m taking a road trip with my Mid next week, flying out to pick up his first vehicle purchase (a used SUV in Kentucky, of all places) and drive it back. That’s the stuff memories should be made of and I should be thankful about that, not wringing my hands over his independence.
And we’ll see him a week after that at the Army-Navy game … then he’ll be home for Christmas Break. Not only should I be thankful for all of that, but I also need to be thankful for all of that.
The clock will continue to run whether I’m ready or not. I am reminded that time is the only finite resource and I’d better start using it more wisely.