Today marks the start of a new weekly (Tuesday) blog series for me that I hope you will find of interest. My plan is to keep it going until my son comes home, hence the title. I truly hope that at some point my blog might find its way to any of our elected representatives. I anticipate that there will be times when I will be rather raw in my feelings, and a little dose of reality might be good for them since most of us will never get the opportunity to slap some sense into them in any other way. Oops, that was my 'out loud' voice.
Today my oldest son begins basic training for the Army.
If all goes according to his plan, his MOS will be 18X. As I've come to learn over the past few months, that means he's signed on for 6 years with the intention of being in Special Forces, specifically Green Beret. He'll have a longer-than-normal basic (14 weeks instead of 8 or 9, I think), then he'll have to go to Airborne school (jumping OUT of an airplane? Egads!), then on to language school where, at the end of the program, he'll apparently be fluent in speaking whatever language he/they choose (I vote for Japanese, please, not Farsi, Arabic or Hebrew). It's two years of training before they send him off to who-knows-where doing I-won't-want-to-know-what, most likely.
I've spent the weeks and months since his enlistment in February trying to process it all. I wasn't expecting this. He was in the second semester of his sophomore year of college. His grades were good. He was thinking of which 4-year university he was going to transfer his community college hours to. He had already lined up his summer job as a camp counselor (for the sixth year in a row).
I went away on a business trip, and when I called home to check on everyone, my youngest told me my oldest had joined the Army that day. It took a few days for it to really sink in and when it did, I went through a kind of physical shock or acute stress reaction - shaking uncontrollably, heart racing, shortness of breath, feeling like I was freezing, crying at everything, then either no sleep or bad dreams. He never saw that part, fortunately.
We had conversations about it; that is, I would walk into whatever room he was in and begin to ask him lots of questions, with the explanation that that was how I needed to process the information. I asked for his indulgence. I made sure I told him how much I loved him in every conversation, and that I would always support his choices even if it took me a little longer to process them. I asked a lot of questions about how he arrived at his decision because I wanted to make sure it really was his choice. No one else had to stand in his shoes (potentially with a target on their back) but him. I also stated that as his mother it was absolutely my right and privilege to defend his choice to anyone who wanted to give him grief about it. I also conveyed to our own family that I would accept nothing but unconditional love and support from them for him and his choice, and if they felt anything to the contrary they were to refrain from voicing it in front of him. E.V.E.R.
I think what has surprised him the most has been the reaction of his friends vs. the reaction of strangers. He's been disappointed at how unsupportive some of his 'best' friends have been. Strangers, however, have thanked him in advance for what he's going to do and commented on how proud I must be as his mother.
I am proud of him, always have been. He's a fine young man. He's handsome, kind, intelligent, compassionate, ridiculously funny, and talented. He'll always be my baby because that's just the way mom's look at it.
I'm proud of myself too. I didn't cry in front of him yesterday when I surrendered my precious baby to Uncle Sam. I can blubber all I want in the privacy of my room, but not in front of this amazing young man who is willing to put his life on the line for the citizens of this country. He had other choices, but this is the one he made.
So whenever you see a soldier, thank them. It probably won't be my son, but it will be someone's son or daughter. Remember to say a little prayer for them, and their mom, every chance you get.
I know I for one am going to need it.