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     Today is 6 months to the day that I bid my son a tearful goodbye and handed him over to his recruiter in preparation for his trip to MEPS and finally to MCRD-SD. He had been in the DEP for a year. And even though I had read things, talked to people, learned things all in preparation for my final destination.....as a Marine Mom, and him as a Marine, I had no idea that  the importance is not in the destination, but in the journey.

    Now six months into it, having endured an abundance of changes, some welcomed, some not, I feel it's time to reflect and glean what I can from each step we've taken. Some I will share with you....in hopes you can find comfort, humor, relief or even just shake your head and go, "Yeah, lady, I know what you mean".

      The first stairstep of knowledge I picked up was "Don't sweat the small stuff". Although it didn't seem like it at the time, letters and information while they are in boot IS small stuff. They aren't being mistreated. They aren't being starved, beaten, put in harm's way or treated inhumanely.(Although the drama they portray in some of their letters might lead you to believe so). They're being molded. They are being formed. No, they aren't being babied and told that they're wonderful at everything. They aren't being given false hope or filled with unearned praise. They are being broken,only to be built back up again into something that will stun and amaze you (and bring you to tears in a crowd full of strangers) when you first lay eyes on it.....a Marine. DIs are very good at what they do, and, although it pains our hearts as mamas, they don't need our help at it! If you don't get a letter, DON'T panic. He may be busy. He may not feel like writing. He may be so dead tired that precious time is spent trying to unwind or catch some sleep. Even though I wanted to punch everyone who told me this a million times over, "No news IS good news."

    The second thing is, this transformation will not be all about him. You are going to change in ways you cannot fathom. You will find yourself awkward and uncomfortable in conversations with people outside of your circle of Marine Corps family....especially on matters political, military or patriotic in nature. I've lost friends over my opinions (not losing any sleep on that one) and found new ones (for which I am thankful for) because of my outspoken pride in my son and his accomplishments. I also feel a duty to support my son and his brothers in any way possible. That means helping out my new extended family when I can. My prayer life has definitely grown, my to-do list gotten longer, and my circle of friends has expanded all due to this Marine Mom life I was drafted into. Take my advice, connect......it is priceless.

 

   Lastly, whatever is happening in his life, good or bad, this too shall pass. We've had down moments...the despair of homesickness setting in at boot, sickness that I literally stayed up nights worrying about setting him back, "hurry up and waits" that had a LOT of waits, and Semper Gumby rearing his ugly head at the most inopportune times. He's made friends and lost them due to medical discharges, injuries or even circumstances that are too horrible to recount and played a big part in this Marine Mom's prayer life growing. Yet, he overcame. I did too.

     We have been on quite a journey so far. We have finally found some stability in a PDS. We are done with his schools and trainings and he's starting to really feel a part of something bigger than himself. I've seen this kid change in so many drastic ways that I hardly recognize who he was before. He's grown up. He's matured. He's become appreciative, grateful, content. And I've changed too....I've learned to hold on while letting go, appreciate every phone call, letter or text but not expect it, and love this life I've been given in a country that is free because of kids like mine willing to fight to defend that.

     Some of you are much further in your journey than I am.You're full of sage advice and patience....you know where I've been because you've walked the same footsteps. Some of you are just beginning. You're crying yourself to sleep at night, mad at the world or a little of both. Six months in, you too might be able to sit back and reflect one night. You might look at picture of that kid you sent to boot and wonder, "What ever happened to that guy?" . Then, you'll come across one of yourself and wonder, "What ever happened to her?!?" and you'll remember all those emotions, all those days it took all your strength to keep going, but you did...one step at a time. And at that moment, you too will realize.....it's all about the journey.

  

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Comment by mymarineson on April 2, 2013 at 4:24pm

My son will be leaving 3 months earlier than anticipated...I am starting to really feel that he will be going away.  Not sure how I should be feeling.  He is such a great kid, I am sure he will be an even greater man with this journey. So glad this site is here, I will be leaning on it soon enough!!!

Comment by Isa09 on February 20, 2013 at 12:34am
Thank you, wonderful story it brought a Lot of light to some of my thoughts that have been scrambling in my mind.
Comment by Txteacher1 on February 17, 2013 at 9:40pm

When my Marine heard me liken this experience to a journey, he laughed and said, " No mom, It's more like a hike....a LONG hike....with a full pack....and a heavy weapon, and rain, lots of rain, and the MREs you were issued are the kind that are gross....." Ha! Of course, that was his view when having a bad week....since then he's lightened up and told me that the nice thing about hikes is you feel a sense of accomplishment with each step you take....because no matter how much you tell yourself you can't, you know you must and you will! Then you do! Kinda like that with us parents....we don't always like what we're handed, left out of or not privy to, but we take it in stride and feel pride with each step! Semper Fi, my Marine Family!

Comment by JoMom on February 17, 2013 at 8:33pm

Good observation April. We have been a Marine family for almost eleven years. Our son enlisted right out of high school. The ride is more like a teeter totter over time because the highs and lows do equal out. Welcome to the playground!!

Comment by april on February 17, 2013 at 8:26pm

thank you aneyeforneye!  god bless you as well.

 

alex2toes (dianne). I know it has only been a week for me, it has already been a journey. I also prefer to call it a journey rather than a roller coaster. That is too inequitable; there are too many lows and not enough highs on a roller coaster, let alone I am not healthy enough for a roller coaster at this age.  (smile)

 

Again,

 

Thank you Txteacher1!

Comment by aneyeforneye on February 10, 2013 at 5:52pm

Thank you April! You shared such words of wisdom and I do agree..it is the Journey, and not the destination. We are all learning a lot about our sons and ourselves! God bless you!

Comment by april on February 10, 2013 at 3:59pm

Thank you for your post!  I am so happy that it is the first post I read. It helps kind of helps to see what to expect down the road.  I just found out about this site today. My son just left for recruit training today and I have mixed feelings that I can barely describe, not sad, a little relieved, since this day is finally here, resolved, since it is beyond my control right now, and anxious, since I am not sure how my sunny, happy, sweet boy is going to change.  I appreciate that you wrote, "The second thing is, this transformation will not be all about him. You are going to change in ways you cannot fathom."  I feel I have changed already.  My eyes are looking at life differently now. (It feels good to write these things down.  Maybe I should start a journal.) I realize that all I can do is control my changes, reactions and life for the next few months and to try become a better, healthier mom! "A happy, healthy mom is a happy home" or something like that. (smile) For some reason, this is the first day that I found out about this site.  I am kind of happy about that, since "ignorance can be bliss," and am not sure that I want to know all of this information, but your point about "connecting" makes me feel that it is worth it.  Thanks again!

Comment by JoMom on February 7, 2013 at 2:48pm

Your blog brings back memories indeed. Our son has been a Marine for 10 plus years and we have learned...in the military change is even more certain than in civilian life. Prayers that you and your son will continue to see only positive changes. Semper Gumby forever!!

Comment by Double Dad on February 6, 2013 at 10:40pm

As the novelist Don Williams Jr. said, "The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination." So it is with the path we are on of Marine parent or spouse or relative...,

 

Our Marines certainly aren't the same, and neither are we.

 

Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Comment by mymarineson on February 6, 2013 at 9:49pm

This is so inspiring.  Thank you.  My son just made it through the first MEPS; I believe another to come?  And is now in his DEP until September.  This seems like a long ways off, but I know it will come quick.  I too, believe it will change him, I pray for the better.  He is such a wonderful man.  Thank you again, hope to see more of your journey, and I certainly will need to share mine!

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