This weekend, I shared my blog with a mom from my church whose only two children (both sons) recently joined the Marines. That planted a seed in my mind that I should have a post on here that specifically addresses military parents! They are the unsung bulwarks in this journey. There is widespread and vocal support for the spouses and children of servicemembers, but it is harder to get support as the mom or dad of a soldier. And so, who better to ask than The Warrior’s mom to write a guest post! Thank you, Jeanine, for sharing what you have. It is my hope that your story can touch the lives of others who grapple with the reality of sending their children off to war – but who also live every day with their hearts brimming over with pride.
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Becoming a military mom is definitely a learning process, especially when there is no military family history. Four years ago, I remember my twin sons’ commissioning ceremony and having mixed emotions of what the future would be like. Both my husband and I were very proud and nervous as we pinned them that day.
Fast forward to the present, and both of our sons have since been deployed to Afghanistan and are now are veterans. They are my heroes! But it is hard to describe the ups and downs during their deployment: the sleepless nights, trying to keep busy, avoiding the news on TV or in the newspaper, or just plain being in a total funk. It was like waiting to exhale until they were home.
When my one son (who Malori refers to as “The Twin Warrior” here, her Warrior’s brother) deployed in 2010, it was surreal watching him pack his already overstuffed duffel bags and other heavy gear. “The Warrior” (who had not met Malori yet) observed and took notes, so to speak, as he would soon be deploying as well. He proudly displayed a banner in the window for me and my husband, which had two blue stars denoting two men in our family on active duty. We also tied two yellow ribbons around the tree in the front yard, and our neighbors showed tremendous appreciation and support for their service.
Then my son was out the door leaving for Afghanistan and again it was a very sad, emotional moment. He told me, “No tears, Mom.” I had to man up. We all prayed together. The following is from a blog post I read, which can help get moms through these tough times:
From a Soldier: “No regrets, no looking back, no goodbyes….it’s ‘until I see you again.’ Hang in there, Mom, I’ll be back before you know it!”
Three days later I received a call that he was in Afghanistan and that he was “pumped up by the experience.” Thus started the constant vigil of keeping my cell phone nearby at all times. I had to learn the many military acronyms and terms, like “in theatre,” “FRG,” “MOS,” “FOB,” “DFAC” and much more. I remember receiving calls in the middle of the night and it was so good to hear his voice and weird knowing that it was daylight over there. I always asked if there were things he needed and the list included 5 Hour Energy drinks, snacks, Christmas lights, and don’t forget the cigars! Pretty much anything he requested, I sent because I wanted him to have a part of home there. I wanted us to be close even though he was 7,000 miles away.
We mainly communicated by cell phone and his Spawar phone. He told me about seeing a dangerous baby viper snake and his concerns for the safety of his men and women. Then he further related about camel spiders, some the size of a Frisbee, that run 10 miles per hour! There was also the deplorable heat of 120-130 degrees; the sandstorms; the freezing cold in the winter; bed bugs; sand flies; unsanitary conditions; and wild dogs that had rabies.
They call this Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan, and our men and women really have to endure much while there. What brave soldiers we have! This was a whole new world for me knowing what they have to put up with. I was proud of my son, and I knew he would be a great leader and would take care of his men and women who served. Meanwhile, I prayed and started a prayer chain and Mass intentions at my chapel, for him and all his soldiers’ safety. I put both my sons’ names on the “We Support Our Troops boards” at local churches. I also followed blogs/Facebook groups like Military Moms Coping with Deployment, Army Mom Strong, and Military Prayer Warriors, and they were of tremendous help.
A little over a year later, it was time for Malori’s Warrior to leave. His mission was just as harrowing. I was getting better at technology this round, and so I used Facebook and Skype on my phone to see when he was online. It was a “happy dance” moment when I would see that green dot knowing he was there.
It was great to Skype, to both hear and see him. I would walk around the neighborhood so he could see changes going on back home and to take his mind off his long and weary days. I brought Skype into the chapel and he was able to say “hello” to the nuns and Fr. Tim. I prayed the St. Joseph prayer everyday for both boys, and I am so thankful he watched over them while they were there.
What I have learned during deployment is that our sons and daughters are ALWAYS in God’s care, whether they are on the other side of the world or if they are right at home in their own beds! God doesn’t need us to protect our soldiers – He needs us to trust that He will do His Will in their lives. He does, however, love it when we pray for them and for one another, as it unites us in caring for one another! Staying on our knees not only empowers others to continue on, it keeps our own hearts on the path to peace.
A very touching poem sums everything up:
I Give To You, My Son
I held him as an infant; I hugged him as a boy
and through the years he has become my greatest pride and joy.
I love him more than I can say, his life more precious than my own,
but gone are the whims and notions of the little boy that I had known.
For the years have passed so quickly since the time it all began
and now he stands before me with the conviction of a man.
He wants to serve his country, he states aloud with pride
as I try to sort out the emotions that I’m feeling deep inside…
A union of the uncertain fear, which I cannot control
and the allegiance which lies deep within my patriotic soul.
I trust that my years of guidance will serve as a strong foundation
as he performs the duties requested from his beloved nation.
God, please guide him as he travels to the places our soldiers have bled
and walk with him through pathways where those heroes’ feet have tread.
Oh Sweet Land of Liberty, humbly I give to you, my son
praying you’ll return him safely home when his work for you is done.
HUGS to all the military moms out there. HOOAH!