As the mother of a young man straight out of high school and into the Marine Corp I struggled with "Letting Go" in so many new ways. Not only was Bret the baby and the last one to leave the nest...the nest was going to be hostile territory from what I knew! Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Majarah! I found myself even fearful of the "non hostile" areas he would be stationed. Silly, I know, my only excuse, "being his Mom"!
When I look back I recall how I feared the day he would leave for college. Would he make it to class on time? Would he eat more than just fast food and drink less energy drinks. Would he join a paternity? Would he use protection? Would he recall the long talks we'd had as mom and son and heed all the advice I'd given? Would he call home enough? ....I tell you the list goes on and on. It's not that Bret was a skipping, drinking, partying kid...it's just that I knew what temptations would be knocking at his door the moment he arrived.
Well, then I get the news he had decided not to go to college. The day he knocked on my bedroom door he walked in, sat down on the bed and said, "Mother, we need to talk!" Anytime Bret wanted to talk you knew it was something of some magnitude. Not small talk...that's not Bret.
From somewhere deep inside him, Bret gathered his thoughts and with a determined voice clearly spoke his plans.
"Mother, I've really thought long and hard about this and my mind is made up and I've signed all the papers and I've joined the United States Marine Corp." I leave in August.
My mind was surprisingly very focused and my comment was, "Well son, why the Marines?" His reply, "The Marines, The Few, The Proud."
He said he knew I would support him no matter what but he thought I'd start crying. Well...I did, just not in front of him at that moment. The funny thing is I had had all these reservations about his going off to college and I suddenly felt relief. Really? relief? My son just told me he wanted to join the military and I feel relief? It's hard to explain but somewhere deep inside me I knew that the military would protect him. That those guys would be tighter and than any paternity brother. Don't ask me why or where this came from but it's what gave me comfort. Comfort for a few weeks. Then the real fear set in...
I feared his being in Boot Camp at Parris Island, SC. He not only survived boot camp but came out as one of the top in his unit!
I feared his leaving for Camp Pendleton in California. All I saw and heard was the long hours of work and the partying and drinking. He survived, with 4 promotions.
I feared his ability to use his money wisely. He called home for money and I wired it via Western Union but he soon learned how to make it work. These kids live on a meager pay! Quite sad and shameful in my opinion!
I feared everything as I waved goodbye while he stood atop the USS Pearl Harbor underneath the US Flag. His safety, his health, his well being all around and more so his emotional and spiritual soul. He returned in one piece, his health suffering with lack of sleep, severe indigestion, nightmares and chewing away at his nails. His emotional state was shaken to his core as we chatted about specific encounters and his spiritual soul touched by what he had seen, felt and learned.
The people of Afghanistan reaching out to our young men as well, "Life-Savers" for them. They ran to them, they welcomed their help. Very few kept their distance from our sons and daughters in uniform for they trusted them.
I feared for his life. I feared my son becoming a man...when all along he had already made the decision to grow up amongst a group of men willing to have his back, watch over his shoulder and lay down their life for each other. He had made the decision only a man could make. He was doing the duty of a man that most men twice his age couldn't and wouldn't do. As he was learning the duties to be a Marine he was responsible for more people and their immediate safety than I can comprehend.
Here I had feared his going to college and partying...
here he was living and witnessing a violent, harsh life for a group of people that were born into this rivalry. People that knew nothing about true freedom and choice. People that live where mud bricks is all that protects them from the weather, insurgents, Taliban and bombs. In homes where the floor is made of dirt and their only way of survival is growing and harvesting opium. Where small children relish in the moment to hold a US military members hand and celebrate being handed a small kids meal toy from America.
My fears as a mom were warranted, maybe. My learning to depend on Gods promises and word replaced this fear beyond imagination. The peace that came each day as I bowed my head in prayer taught me to have more faith and less fear. It reminded me too that I in many ways am still like a young adult with much growing up left to do!
For me there is a difference between worrying and being fearful. In my opinion moms will forever worry, right? Yet, as I'm growing in God I'm realizing that being fearful and not letting God take control is a sin. It shows we don't have total trust and faith in Him. Do your actions and words show you depend more on yourself or totally in His promises? Do you make remarks like "I'm so scared"? I believe our words speak our faith everyday. We may not mean to but little doubting phrases allow Satan to slip right in and play havoc with our hearts and minds! Fear not, just as the angel told the wise men many years ago in the darkness of night.
Now...I shared all this because my sons unit will be receiving the Presidential Unit Citation for their work in during Operation Moshtarak in Afghanistan. Son, I will still worry but I have learned to let go of the fear and let God! Also congrats to you for being the Marine of the Day on June 11, 2012! What a man you have become!
I love you son!