Military Mom

Finding OUR Waldo

Our son signed up to become a Marine, at the beginning of his senior year of high school, through their early enlistment program, which means we've had almost a full year to prepare for Glen's departure – although it seems like yesterday I grounded him until boot camp

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Glen's recruiter, at Glen's high school graduation

And we played out each day, with a little more reverence for military families, while trying to better understand and appreciate our son's life-long dream of serving in the military was going to happen, whether WE were ready or not.

Still. I personally found myself feeling greedy and becoming even a bit needy – asking him to help me with the food shopping, or convincing him...why, YES!!!...I would feel MUCH better, if he would join me in an early evening walk...growing greedier and needier, every step of the way.

Thisfullhouse2017
Our "group graduation gift" to Glen was a weekend family getaway to D.C.

On the day he shipped out, the six of us set our alarms for 3:00 a.m. and spent the next 90 minutes waiting for Glen's recruiter to arrive at the house – it was one of the worst and best mornings of my life.

The girls and I sat around the kitchen table, all bleary-eyed from cry-laughing, while Glen and his Dad tested each other's endurance for dead arm punches and purple nurples, because boyzzzzzz will be boyzzzzzz.

Sunrise
Saying goodbye to Glen was hard - heralding a new beginning for our Son, by welcoming the sun, not so much.

The girls suggested we go to the beach to watch the sun rise, in an attempt to distract us from all the, well, you know.

If you were to ask me to describe what it was like watching Glen walk out the front door...knowing we wouldn't be able to see or speak with him...I mean, no phone calls, no emails, no Skype, no texts...nothing more than an occasional snail mail...for the next 13 weeks...well, it's sort of like me asking you to hold your breath...for as long as you can...and then punching you in the gut.

Mailbox
First letter has been written and is on its way to boot camp!!!

Every day, my husband lets me be the first to check the mailbox, hoping TODAY will be the day we hear from Glen – nope.

It's been 12 days and, although we've received word from his DI (drill instructor) that he's doing fine, no letter from Glen, but it's okay, he's sort of busy, I guess.

My husband and I have joined a couple of Facebook groups in support of parents and family members who have recruits attending the same boot camp as Glen. Here's the really cool part – every week, the parents attending boot camp graduation take photos of other recruits training around the camp and, as a courtesy to new military parents, post these photos to the Facebook group, hoping we'll catch a glimpse of our recruit, with captions like, "Find Your Waldo!" and "More Waldos!

Waldo Sighting First
w, that first kid in line is REAL tall...heyyyyy...wait a minute...there's no mistaking that cleft chin and those flared Thompson nostrils...OMG!!!...that's MY kid!!!

We've found four additional sightings, this week!!! And we'll probably continue spending every evening, scrolling through thousands of photos, and texting each other...this sort of looks like him, yes?!?...for the next 11 weeks...and then it'll be OUR turn to pay it forward and help other parents find their Waldos...because that's what you do for family...besides, what's another kid or eleventy-hundred, right?!?!

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.

Grounded Until Boot Camp

It's been 36 minutes, since I hugged my son and wished him luck, reassuring him "not to worry," and "you got this," as I followed him through our front door and watched him get into his recruiter's car. I then proceeded to spend the next 36 minutes reliving the last 17 years, as parents do, with every passing milestone, I suppose.

However, this time, Garth (not his real name) isn't home to reassure me that "he'll be fine," and there's really "no need to cry," because he's staying at my parents' house, helping to take care of my Dad and getting him to his dialysis appointments, and then taking him to visit with my Mom in a sub-acute facility (she's recovering from a real bad fall), while I continue to work from home, until the weekend, when we switch places and, well, the last six weeks haven't been easy on any of us.

"I don't feel like you guys are here for me."

Most especially, our son.

"I talk about my enlistment and all you do is shake your head and look sad."

I have had sooooo many thoughts and opinions about my son's imminent enlistment into the Marine Corps, but I've been pretty much keeping them to myself.

"I don't feel like you support my decision."

Until now.

Needless to say, my husband and I are very proud of Glen and, as an American born of immigrants, I'm humbled by our son's dedication to "honoring his Grandparents and all their hard work, wanting a better life for future generations" (those were my son's exact words, when explaining his desire to enlist, during our interviews with each of the military branches).

"We've done everything we can to help you get here, haven't we?"

Keeping every deep, dark and terribly awful fear imaginable from creeping out of my heart and slithering its way up onto my face, not so much.

"So yes, I'm sad. And afraid. Just as your training will involve learning how to protect others, while protecting yourself, you're going to be a pretty tall target, and there will be people whose job will be to try and kill you."

I was being brutally honest with him, and myself, because it's been 60 years since my parents first set foot on American soil and danged if it doesn't seem like the world is moving backwards, we're ALL standing on shaky ground, right?!?!

"As your Mom, my first and foremost wish has always been for you to be happy."

It's hard sometimes, you know? Pretending to be fearless. Especially for someone who wears her heart on her sleeve...[raises hand]...not without leaving a permanent dent on my face, I mean.

"And your father and I will always fear for your safety (okay, mostly me), but do NOT mistake that as our being unsupportive."

So, I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m., which every parent reading this will undoubtedly understand it to have been unnecessary, as I was awake for most of the night and I finally gave up on sleep when my son's alarm went off at 3:00 a.m., as we sat together, in a mostly dark and quiet house, waiting for him to take his next steps towards gaining his independence and logging in another sleepless night for me and his Dad.  

36 minutes later, I became >this< much closer to graciously accepting my new role as a military mom...as reasonably and as calmly as possible, at 5 o'clock in the morning, I mean...so, yeah, there isn't a parent prouder than I am of you...RIGHT THIS MINUTE...my son...AND DO NOT EVER FORGET IT...or consider yourself grounded until boot camp!!!

Edited to add text received from my husband, GarthNHRN: Your post sounds like he's going now. You should make it clear this is a medical and he doesn't go until next summer.

Okay?!?! Soooo, we good?!?! Good!!! Which pretty much guarantees you guys another post, next August, you're welcome!!!

 

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.