The Power of Dandelions

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Each spring my mother handed flat-edge screwdrivers to her four children and ordered us into the yard for dandelion-removal duty. Many hours of my childhood were spent uprooting a flower that was only determined to be weed in the 20th century. Dandelions were beloved and revered for their beauty and medicinal benefits – until they weren’t. But despite our efforts to minimize their presence, they still appear each spring. Dandelions are resilient – they put down roots anywhere and everywhere, 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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The dandelion is the official flower of the military child. Approximately 1.8 million children have a parent who serves in the armed forces. My children are just that – children. Curious, adventurous, stubborn, amazing, lovable, and terrific children. The fact that their father is in the Army doesn’t define them. Every family has their own story – the Army just happens to be a part of ours. Currently, their father is away more than he is home. And to them, the idea of home is somewhat of a unique concept. Our son has moved six times in his eight years and our daughter has moved four times in her four years. And we have no plans to settle in one place anytime soon. I’ve wiped away tears because they miss their father, I’ve held their hand as they walked into a new classroom full of unfamiliar faces, and I’ve comforted them as they processed the pain of missing the friends they left behind. It’s during these moments that I wonder if my husband and I are doing a disservice by subjecting them to this lifestyle.

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Our children are still of the age where they love to pick dandelions and give them to me as tokens of their adoration. When I see these simple flowers held by dirty little fingers accompanied by a beaming smile, I am reminded that they will be okay. Our children will emerge from their childhood without traditional roots planted firmly in an area with extended family and familiar surroundings. Rather their roots will be far-reaching and strongly anchored with love in our little family of four. They also have each other. And 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.

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Eleanor Roosevelt told us that “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.” While our children may not have a traditional white-picket fence childhood, theirs has been and will continue to be full of rich experiences. They are learning just how small the world can be and how we’re all more alike than different. They are brave. They are confident. They are resilient. Just like dandelions.

6 comments on “The Power of Dandelions”

  1. I love this Karen and I actually think you are giving MORE to your kids by giving them a “non-standard” lifestyle — not limiting them at all. I’m of course not a parent, but feel like people (kids and adults) who experience more diversity in life will have a greater impact on the world than those who limit their experiences.

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  2. Omg that final picture at the end ❤

    I agree with the reader above. I think you are giving your children so many unique opportunities and life lessons that they will cherish forever. I’m sure that military life has so many challenges but it sounds as though you have things figured out pretty well ❤ love the story of the dandelion:)

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  3. I think your children are going to be wonderful well-rounded individuals and many people I know who grew up in military families are much more outgoing and independent and successful than others. You’re doing a great job. And I love the dandelion analogy. ❤

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  4. Oh how I love this post! Thank you and your husband for your service. I know being a Mil Spouse isn’t easy either! We LOVE dandelions. We call them wish flowers and were once scolded because apparently, we were blowing even more seeds around. I like to see it as blowing more wishes for others. Keep on keeping on!

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  5. Your kids are the cutest! I can relate to this post so much. I’ve always thought of dandelions as resilient flowers but I had no idea that they represented military children. My niece and nephew were Air Force kids and your words ring true to their experience of being kids in the service. I love this!

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