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6 days until one goal met, 70 until the next begins

I am an emotional mess, and I'm not ashamed to admit it to anyone, except my poolie. His high school graduation is in 6 days. When his older sister graduated we were crazy busy between planning the reception, all the events for the seniors, and all the little things we kept remembering to add to our list. My poolie on the other hand is only having a reception because I insisted so family and friends can gather to celebrate him. He doesn't want a see you later party before he leaves for boot, so this is their chance to offer well wishes for graduation and for boot camp. When I explained that, he said that was a good idea since our family is rather spread out. I did all the planning since he really doesn't care about the details, just the family and friends, and I don't mind at all! What gets me is his absolute refusal to do the other traditional graduation things. Tonight was baccalaureate, he reminded me about it this morning. Hubby and I got ready, the younger siblings got ready, and 20 minutes before it started he informed us he didn't want to go. Then he told us that if he didn't think I would be upset about it he would skip the graduation ceremony also. His reasoning is that THIS graduation isn't the important one, it's just something he has to get through so he can get to the really important one. Maybe it's just me being overly sensitive because I know our time with my little boy is coming to an end and he will never be the same as he is now, but I was really looking forward to these moments with him and now I have to act like it doesn't bother me. I just wish I could figure him out, one day he talks about the things we need to do, and the next he doesn't care at all.  

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Comment by Nana on May 22, 2016 at 11:16pm

My son graduated last June, it was the same with him. When his two oldest sister's graduated, we have so many activities inside and outside school and it was amazing. He didn't gave me anything. He only participated in the graduation after seeing how determined I was when I told him I must have the pic with all of them (Being collecting pic of every graduation with the same group of friends since grade K) I was not about to miss on the last graduation of them together. I think is a boys thing, for them everything is different than to the girls, is not as important for some reason.

I did had a party for him before he left but I did not make it look like a good bye party, because it wasn't. Every Saturday all the boy's (10 of them) would garter In my house to play video games. Same as every Saturday, I cooked nachos and tacos for them and they all had a great time (didn't even realize I was recording the whole thing) before he left the following Sunday. 

I understand how difficult this is for you because it was to me, I cried many times out of frustration. Sometime I thought it was his way of saying "Mom get use to it, I won't be around and you will miss me on Holidays and Birthdays so stop wanting to hold on to traditions we cannot longer keep". 

Now think of the big picture here, your boy is leaving, next time you see him, he will not be the same (trust me) Instead of thinking of all the traditional activities your family do ( since he will be missing most of them for the next few years) think of the new memories and different things you can do together as a family and treasure them. Record him, Record him, Record him and when the pain becomes unbearable, look at the videos and listen to him talking and laughing.

My apologies if I sound cruel, I am trying to save you the pain I went thru. Good luck and thank your son for his commitment and bravery.  

Comment by Double Dad on May 6, 2016 at 1:09am

One final word from me, if I may: All of this, boot camp and beyond, is hard and different, not only for you and your son, but others, too. If you have other children at home and they are old enough, sit down with them and have a talk. Kids pick up on what their parents are feeling, so a chat can work wonders. It's also a good time to remind them you love them and are proud of them, too. Our daughter, who was 10 at the time, felt left out when her older brothers deployed to Iraq. My wife and I were so busy worrying about them, we almost forgot how it would hit her. Luckily, we realized what we were doing, and soon corrected that error. One other point: we guys need a hug or a pat on the back every now and then because we won't admit it as readily but we worry, too, when our sons go overseas. 

Comment by alex2toes on May 3, 2016 at 6:31am

Very Good Poem soontobemrine, Kahil Giban has a way with words doesn't he? And I am so glad you got a productive talk out of him, Buds Mom. I think you have stumbled upon a successful formula for your future communications, let him have his space and he will be more forthcoming with the answers you want. I know it sure worked for me when my Marine hit the Fleet. And I must say, that is a most awesome compliment that you received, that he admires your strength so; enough to emulate. Way to go Mom!

Comment by Buds Mom (Bonnie) on May 2, 2016 at 8:49pm

Sat down and had a serious talk with my poolie. It amazes me how both of us were only looking at things from one perspective, our own. I explained that although he may not be at all interested in the whole high school graduation thing, to me it is the culmination of 18 years of support, encouragement, and prayers. And that while all of those things will continue, this is my way of celebrating him and seeing others recognize his accomplishments. He on the other hand told me that all he sees this as is one more paper he needs to give his recruiter in order to reach his goal. (He compared it to all the things we had to gather for MEPS like birth certificate, etc) I guess I had never looked at it through his eyes before, and he hadn't considered it from my perspective either. What really got me though was him saying that he had never seen me cry over this whole thing... and he hasn't. I promised myself when we signed his DEP papers that I wouldn't let him see me when I was afraid, had doubts, or when I simply wanted to cry because I knew when this was over he would no longer be just mine... he would belong to the Marines. I have never been less than chest bursting proud of his decision, but I think maybe I took that promise too far. He said that the moments he had doubts about his ability to complete this, fears about going so far away from home, or was simply worn out from a combination of school, work, poolie functions/weekly workouts, he would think about how strong I was (not knowing I had my breakdowns and cried on poor Hubby's shoulder at night) and that made him more determined to do this so that he could show me he was strong too. I have spent time looking at all the ways my boy was pulling away and never saw that he was becoming more than my boy. Hopefully after our talk we will both remember that things are changing for all of us, the whole family, and adjustments will need to be made. I have agreed to TRY not to make such a big deal out of things, and to explain why if I do make a big deal, and he has promised to try to let me have some of the things with out a fight. I doubt I will get another talk like that out of him, he never has been one for sharing, so I was thankful for this one. And I even got a hug and a 'Love you mom" out of him.  Thanks for letting me vent, this experience is so much different from when his older sister graduated and went to college. I think if it wasn' t for this site I may believe I was going crazy... just knowing others understand, have gone through this, and even those who have a fresh perspective and an unemotional view of things give me faith that I will get through this in one piece... and so will he! :) And I am keeping a copy of that poem, may have to read it quite often!

Comment by Soontobemarine on May 2, 2016 at 12:56pm
I like to share this poem. Letting go doesn't mean we don't care about them but letting them be their own person . It took me 2 years to understand the difference.

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Comment by alex2toes on May 2, 2016 at 6:10am

Oh honey! You have my son and you don't even know it! hahahaha Yep, we had the same bewildered look, I'll bet money. My Marine didn't have time for all that Graduation Nonsense. In our case, it was not because the Marines were more important, it was because he was done with high school and had moved on. If the school hadn't told him the only way he would get his diploma was to show up for the ceremony, he wouldn't have walked at all.

Would it make a difference if you told him that if he won't do it for himself, to do it for you? See, Double Dad, I believe has the right of it, in his head he is already moved on. Unfortunately, he has never been in this position before so he does not realize that it does not make him less mature, less of a man, less worthy to go through the formalities of Graduation.

If nothing else, hold him tight, give him a kiss and let him know that you love him and then let him go. This is a small blip in the rest of his Life and it is HIS to regret or not.

Hugs to you, it will be ok.

Comment by Double Dad on May 2, 2016 at 12:27am

Sounds pretty typical to me. He's already moving on, looking ahead, while you are -- quite naturally -- holding on to the past as long as you can. And here's where it gets tricky. What's important to you isn't necessarily going to be important to him. As you said, you want to hang on to your little boy as long as you can. Unfortunately for you, he doesn't consider himself a little boy and probably hasn't for quite some time. The Marines only accept men and women, and your son is a man now. 

I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is the truth. Here's another truth, you can tell him how you feel. Don't do it to make him feel guilty, but tell him how you feel about him. Just don't necessarily expect him to be as open as you might wish. Parents and spouses of Marines who are getting ready to deploy, especially to a combat zone, already know what I'm talking about. Their Marines sometimes withdraw to a zone where they are focusing on the mission ahead. I suspect your son is doing the same. Boot camp isn't easy, and it's not supposed to be. Just support him, tell him you love him and are proud of him. He might not show it, but he will hear it and it will sustain him when he hits a low point (they all hit a low point) in boot camp.

Congratulations on raising a young man who wants to be a Marine. 

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