An Outreach Program of MarineParents.com
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.