Never did I think that I would hear those words escape from my mouth but the truth is, I am officially the mother of a soldier.
I had the honor of attending my oldest son’s graduation from basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, MO. And I must say that it will be one of the fondest memories I possess in my life.
As a parent we raise our children in hopes that they will be successful, but for a mother of a soldier it’s just a bit of a catch 22 for me. As proud as I am of him, we also live in a world of uncertainty right now.
I took my seat that morning and watched as each group of these young men and women marched their way to the stage and one by one called off their names and where they were from. And when my child came forth, I barely recognized him. He was all grown up. He had already changed.
I thought about all their family and friends in the audience who were watching and wondering if they were all having the same feelings as me. The feelings of pride, joy, love, fear, understanding, and of course uncertainty. If their whirl wind of emotions, were blowing in the same direction as mine.
I sat across from my son, dressed in his Army issued tailored blues, made just for him. And I couldn’t help but think that just yesterday he was this 10 year old little boy, with no thoughts of where he would be sitting on this very day across from me.
I thought about the past year and a half and what he has overcome. That he made some bad choices but made some self discovery along the way and in the end chose the right path.
I thought about the last time I saw him and how many things were said between us. A conversation that hasn’t been finished.
I also thought about my 4 other children, who are all growing up so fast, and that as soon as I blink my eyes, this person sitting across from me, will be my 4 year old. All grown up and no longer needing my undivided attention and me knowing that I did my best to give her and all of her siblings the love, life skills, and childhood memories that will give them the best wings to fly. To know that I tried to be the best mother I could…even when some days mothering required every ounce of me that I had.
Watching this ceremony and hearing of my son’s stories of his journey so far, gave me a new found respect for these young men and women who take an oath to protect and serve their country. To protect some of the freedoms that so many of us take for granted. To sign on a dotted line not knowing the unpredictability that lies ahead.
Basically giving up their freedom…to ensure ours.
The last night I was there, I walked my son up the sidewalk near his barracks. I promised I wouldn’t cry. I promised that I would be strong and send him on his way. I hugged him tight, told him I loved him, and then as soon as I turned to head toward’s the car all those tears poured out.
I hadn’t cried like that in a long time.
But it wasn’t just because I am the mother of a soldier, it’s because I am a mother, and for the first time since becoming a mother, I had a taste of what it was like to let go, and that before long, I would have to let go of all of them.
I know your blood doesn’t share my blood but I will always think of you as my son. There are so many things that you won’t understand until you have children of your own.
I hope you know how proud your dad and I are of the person you have become. That you chose to be a better person, even with so many odds against you.
I hope you understand how much we love you. And how much we never stopped loving you…even when you weren’t making the best of choices.
I hope you understand the reasons of why we had to make some of the choices we made. I don’t regret those choices…especially if it gave you the will to prove you could make it. That you could be a better person even with the hand of cards you had been dealt.
I hope you will always know…this is your home.
PS: Never lose sight of the boy on the left. He’s formed the man on the right.