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I don't know about any of you, but when I was the 20 year old mom of a brand new baby boy, the hospital sent me home with blankets, bottles, even pacifiers and diapers, but somehow failed to give me an instruction manual on what to do with this wrinkly, crying, pooping bundle of joy. Fast forward 20 something years later, throw two more kids in the mix, and somehow they all managed to come out of childhood in one piece, relatively unscathed....purely by miracles, accident and God's good graces combined with His sense of humor, I'm sure.
   June of 2012, the last one walked across the aisle, received his diploma, and a month later turned 18, and much to my chagrin, there was no huge sigh of relief on my part. I was disappointed...I had been waiting for this huge weight to be lifted from my shoulders. You know the
weight I speak of, the one that you feel from the moment they are born, through their first steps as they stumble and teeter, to their first day of school while they walk in like a trooper disregarding the fact that you are sobbing, bumbling ball of nerves in the hallway of that school, to the late nights waiting up playing the 'bargaining game' with God on what you would be willing to do if He will be gracious enough to let them come back from this late night with friends in one piece, to the day you fight back the lump in the throat watching 13 years of schooling culminate into their first steps into the real world of adulthood. So, there I sat at that ceremony....waiting.....waiting....nope. No sigh of relief. 
    Instead, what I got a month or two later was like a bad remake of "Groundhog day" or karma playing a nasty trick of
dejavu. My baby went from a wrinkly, crying, pooping bundle of joy (or not so much at 2 in the morning) to a muscled up, lanky, crap-talking man-child who was speaking a language I didn't understand. It had terms like ' boot camp' and ' DI' and ' MEPS'. It required me to learn an entirely new language to be able to speak to him, which was very parallel to the same scenario 18 years earlier when I had to learn what cry meant ‘hungry’, ‘annoyed’ ‘sleepy’ or ‘wanting attention’.I went from watching him take his first steps, teetering and tottering (and me fighting the urge to catch him as opposed to let him learn it on his own) to me watching him take the first steps into this new life of a Marine. I went from watching him walk into his kindergarten classroom like a trooper to watching him swear in and ship out all the while I was STILL a sobbing, bumbling ball of nerves from the moment I walked out of that MEPS station watching him ship out to the very anxious moments I received that first letter. I went from playing the ‘bargaining game’ with God on hoping he got back from outings with friends in one piece, to thoughtful, trustful prayer (see, I HAD learned something in all those years!) praying he made it through the inevitable weight loss, tiredness, recruit pneumonia of boot camp to come out a Marine. I went from fighting back that lump in my throat from watching 13 years of schooling culminate into his first steps into adulthood, to watching my baby boy walk across that parade deck as a new Marine…..and this time the tears flowed proudly!
There never was an instruction manual as a parent. I made mistakes…some small ones that taught me I probably shouldn’t do that again to some huge ones that I learned once-in-a-lifetime life lessons from. I wasn’t perfect. You would think with each child I would have gotten better….but each was different and unique and it required a huge gambling game of trial and error to see what worked. Eventually, I found my niche, my groove, and we all made it through.
It’s been very much the same with this new phase…this Marine Corps life. I’ve learned to tone down some emotions. Let him fight his own battles. Let him make his own mistakes and learn to deal with consequences. Let him reach his own accomplishments and bask in his glory when he does. Boot camp, graduation, ITB, PDS, deployment….it’s all been a learning curve. Trial and error are still my main tactic. My prayer life has grown tremendously. My support system has become more selective. My skin has grown thicker, my heart has grown larger and has had to be repaired a few times, but has made it through. I’ve learned to seek the wisdom of parents who have ‘been there’. I’ve learned to lend quiet support and advice, only if asked for, to parents who are footsteps behind me in their journey. There was no instruction manual 20 something years ago. There is none now. But I’m learning as I go….as we all are…..one step at a time. 

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Comment by Lea on May 10, 2014 at 11:38pm

Thank you Texas teacher for the blog.

Glad we have teachers like you teaching our young children.  Thank you for your service!

Comment by 1~sandyr, MFN VO & VPMM on May 7, 2014 at 10:12am

Good to see you, Txteacher1!  Life sure does get busy;  I'm glad you're able to pop in occasionally.  All of us enjoy your blogs ; ).  In particular, my very favorite is "Thanks for Surfing" - it so touched my heart and funny bone.

As a retired teacher, I had to chuckle with you about that particular parent/teacher conference.   

Comment by Txteacher1 on May 5, 2014 at 5:30pm
Life got busy, and I moved to the land that wifi wont reach on some days. We are at the very tail end of his first deployment. My journey so far has been a whirlwind. Last week, when I finally remembered not my password, but the email account it was tied to, I was so happy to log back on and read posts that showed me that my journey has been and continues to be taken over and over by so many. I had just had a parent teacher conference with a sobbing mom who declared that she didnt know what to do with her second grader because she hadnt been given an instruction manual. That statement made me laugh out loud and I fought both the urge to suggest she might consider enlisting him in Marine Corps boot camp because DIs are miracle workers and the automatic reaponse in my head of " You aint seen NOTHING yet, sister."
Comment by lealynn17 on May 3, 2014 at 10:39am

This is beautifully written and had me bawling wholeheartedly because each paragraph spoke to my own mother's heart and the journey I am now embarking on. It brought me right through the passages of time to when, like you, I was a new mother. Then continued to flash pictures of my little man through my head as I kept reading, until finally landing me in the present. What a crazy life it is, to find ourselves in this journey, to never have a direct line of instruction on how to handle it. I was a blubbering mess and continue to be, at points, when my son left on March 9th this year. I felt like an eternity had passed waiting for that first letter, when I got it, I couldn't even open it up right away because I was shaking and crying and so happy and relieved just to see his handwriting on that envelope! Each week, I try not to mall the postal worker running out the instant I hear that vehicle! :) Now, I cry for being so proud, so humbled by this experience and of course...for missing the heck out of "my little man"! In all this, the letting go, the struggle with my mother's heart, I have realized to give a lot more over to God, to pray and trust and teach as I go. We now have booked our flights and in a month will be out there watching him go across that parade deck! It is safe to say that I am thrilled and cannot wait, what an awesome experience and to think, my son, brought this to my life!!! 

Comment by 1~17smom (Julie) on May 1, 2014 at 12:22am

Hey Teach!  I've been missing you!  So glad to hear from you.  So how the heck are you?  Are you in mid-deployment, or have you weathered the first one?

You are so  right, there is no manual, and the rules keep changing.  My son's first deployment was so incredibly intense (for me, AND him), but I thought I'd figured out the "rules" when the second one came around.  Heck no!  I had to figure out everything all over again - a totally different experience the second time around.

And now my Marine is a civilian Marine and I was waiting for the *whew" moment -- which there was -- for a couple of months -- and then there were a whole bunch of new things to figure out as he tried to settle in to this new experience.

I still believe in that infinite line of Marine parents, some ahead of me, some behind me.

Keep passing it on!

Julie

Comment by alex4 on April 30, 2014 at 9:34pm
LOVE it!!!
Comment by ugadawg on April 30, 2014 at 8:08pm

I LOVE this!!!!!!!

 

 

Comment by 1~alex2toes(Dianne) on April 30, 2014 at 6:45pm

Yea! I have missed you & your blogs.

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