When my son joined the military I was tossed back on old emotions that I repressed until I could feel safe dealing with them. I was not a conventional mother. My son went to school with his dad. His dad has the farm and that is where my son wanted to be. He wanted to be with me too, but I could no longer be with his dad. The shadows between his dad and I drove me away.
I loved my son with all that was in me to love him. I had him summers and weekends until he was old enough to want to build deeper ties with his friends than his mom. I was the best mom I knew how to be given the circumstances of my life, and yet, being his mom, I still have incredible feelings of guilt that do nothing for anyone, not even me! I broke my own heart when I chose to let my child go to school with his dad, and I have not yet managed to live down my own self-betrayal.
With all of this inner discord recognized, my son’s choice to join the military meant that I had to deal with my own inner shit. I could not ask the question, why would you make this choice. He had already made it. We had already discussed it. He had talked about it separately with his dad and me. It quite simply was what he wants to do.
Now with all the stupidity going on in government, I may have to prepare my heart that my child, yes, the one that grew inside me and that I birthed into the world, that one, may get sent into some very risky areas of the world. What I have to comfort me is that I have not let the moments to make memories go. He came home and surprised me over Christmas. I got out to see his graduation from Marine Boot Camp.
I am not alone in sending children off to the military. Many, many mothers before me have seen their sons and daughters off to prove their mettle under the duress of war. I am less afraid for my son than I am my own broken heart, and this… This attitude does not seem worthy to me for the kind of man my son has become. But I put it out here, because these tender and heart racking emotions are what the gift of prayer is for.