OMG last week was HARD!!!!!!!
My older son (who is also my bestie) has been in the ROTC program in college for the past few years and was just informed that in May, he will be commissioning as an Active Duty 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. He’s over the moon about it. Apparently, it’s a coveted position in an environment where there are so many spots to go around nationwide for so many university ROTC students competing for the same.
When he called me on Monday, I congratulated him. After we got off the phone I locked my office door, cried for a few hours and didn’t speak with anyone all day. When I got home, I drank some Jack Daniels, which I rarely do. Coping mechanism, see?
Worrying….That’s our job as moms, isn’t it? But, if they are happy and are being responsible then we must be supportive and slap a smile on our faces, despite how we feel. A million things flew around my head. What if he gets deployed? What if he gets hurt? What if he gets sent so far away that I can’t see him often? What if he goes and gets married and has kids and we’re so far away from each other I can’t be there for them? What if something bad happens…..I can’t even!!! I feel like Rochelle from Everybody Hates Chris, with my thoughts on the future spinning out of control.
You see, the whole military thing came about when he was around 12 years old. He was never a bad kid, he was actually a really great kid. He just didn’t like school much so he was a total slacker. One summer he got bad grades on two of his classes, so I sent him to a military school in Virginia for the summer (“This will fix him!”) There, he would be able to retake the classes and learn in a more disciplined environment. Well, that backfired because he ended up loving it. Then, he joined ROTC in high school. Then, he joined ROTC in college. Out of 80 or so ROTC students in his freshman year, only 9 remained to the end of their college careers, with him being one of them. So, this is a huge deal.
Initially, I tried to get him to join the Navy or the Air Force (“It’s safer!”) No dice. I tried to get him to pick a specific job that I thought would keep him out of harm’s way…. He picked other, more dangerous stuff. I snapped at him when he was telling me what duty stations he chose. I’m having so much trouble with all this. BUT!! I could never be that mother that would forbid him from chasing his dream or making him feel guilty for worrying me. I never understood moms who dictate to their kids what they can/should do with their lives. So, i’ll just shut my pie hole and smile like Melania. I’m happy for him, really. He got what he wanted and worked super hard for it. I’m just so worried…. this is where my faith has to come in.
This is a real struggle, because as Mom I want him to be SAFE from harm, I want him to be happy, healthy and all that good stuff. I’m freaking out about this shaky political climate. I’m worried about the decisions the new ‘administration’ will make and how that will affect all our kids in the military. I’m convinced that these next 4 years will bring drastic weight loss for me, because when I worry I can’t eat. I’m formulating a prayer plan and trying to figure out how to avoid losing my hair from the stress. I’m adding in a budget line item for all the care packages i’ll be sending with enough beef jerky for him to share (that’s some expensive stuff).
I’m revisiting all the mistakes I made when raising him, all the times I yelled at him or fought about his grades or schoolwork. The things he didn’t get to experience because I was a broke teen mom on welfare trying to get through high school. The fact that his father was never in his life and how that somehow must have been my fault. The times I neglected him because I had a paper due. Stuff i’m less proud of, like leaving him with Grandma so I could have some time to myself. I’m even regretting dumb things I complained about, like having to trick his laundry into the hamper (boys NEVER wash their clothes, didn’t you know? The clothes are dancing on their own by the time they wash the clothes- that’s why we always do it for them). I don’t know why i’m having all these thoughts- I guess I did the best that I knew how but I do have some regrets.
When I found out that this is official… he’s actually going in… was my ‘when $h!t got real’ moment. But, this is another phase of letting go. I let go a little when he went to his first day of school, then he went to his first dance. Then, he graduated from 8th grade and I was like, where did the time go?!! Then he graduated from high school and went off to college and the house was so quiet and empty. It took me about a year to get used to cooking for less people, washing for less people, etc. I thought about him all the time, worried about him all the time (“What if someone slips him a roofie at a party? What if someone clubs him over the head and steals his car? What if he gets robbed at gunpoint? What if…”)
He’s a man, he wants to serve his country and be a leader. He wants to have a career, and he is happy- REALLY happy. So despite my feelings, I have to let go of all those worries and understand that he is doing what he wants to do- and is genuinely happy. His happiness is what counts, not mine. That’s what we have to believe, as moms. And we also have to have FAITH. Now what I need to work on is to keep him covered in prayer, because I genuinely believe that will keep him safe. And I need to stop panicking.