When My Son Joined the Army

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It wasn’t even on my radar. The Army had always been a “no way mom, that’s not for me” conversation. Then one day our son decided that he wanted to just go and ask some questions and get some information. The next thing I knew, he was handing me enlistment papers.

He had joined the Army.

When My Son Joined the Army at LifeInTheNerddom.com

He was 19. He had been out of school for a year working jobs that he really didn’t like. I knew he was miserable and lacked direction. As his parents, we did everything we knew to do to help him succeed, but nothing was helping. If anything, we were just making matters worse.

I’ll never forget the night he walked in with his papers. I felt like someone had kicked my legs out from under me. He would be leaving in just 4 short months.

I spent those four months trying to prepare. That’s what I do when I don’t know what else to do…I plan. It grounds and comforts me.

I told him we should buy the stuff he needed to take with him. He said he didn’t need anything.

I told him that we should go through his room and pack up the things that couldn’t just sit around for three years. He said he would do that after Basic Training.

So he spent four months hanging with his friends and going to weekly fitness tests.

I spent four months fretting and losing sleep and trying to act like everything was just fine.

 

He's In The Army Now

Then the day arrived - August 22, 2016. The last time my little boy would ever be in my house. He would come back four months later a man.

We left our house that day and took him to the local Army recruiter’s office. They would shuttle him a couple of hours away to the nearest base. That day wasn’t terribly awful because I knew that I would see him the next morning. We were going to drive to the base to spend the morning with him before he left for Fort Benning. Still, watching him walk away with that recruiter was hard…SO hard.

The next day we set out early for Fort Jackson. We were able to spend several hours with him while he finished processing, took his oath to serve and waited for his turn to leave.

They had the families line the walkway and wave little American Flags while all of these brave young men and women boarded vans that would take them to their new lives. I stood there watching them file by thinking they are all so young. They are really just babies, barely beginning to understand what the world is really about, and they are prepared to die for their country.

By the time my son walked by I could barely keep it together. I waved my little flag and smiled and clapped because I wanted him to see how proud we were of him. Inside, I wanted to die. I wanted to hug him and beg him not to go. I wanted to be selfish and keep him safe with me.

He hopped on his shuttle van, we hopped in our mini-van, and we went in opposite directions.

I spent the two-hour ride home in a daze. I couldn’t even cry. I needed to process all that had happened in the last 24 hours, but my brain just couldn’t grasp the enormity of it.

Nothing….NOTHING….could have prepared me for this journey.

When My Son Joined the Army @ LifeInTheNerddom.com

I Didn’t Expect This

You see, I knew absolutely nothing about the military. No one in my immediate family had even been in the military. I knew only what I had been told or seen in the movies, and we all know how reliable that is.

No one bothered to tell me what came next.

Oh, they told me that he would go to Fort Benning and stay in processing for at least 5 days up to 2 or 3 weeks, depending on a variety of factors. I knew sortof what he would be doing while he was there. I had watched all of the Making of a Soldier videos on YouTube. I was informed!  (sarcasm)

What no one told me was that it would feel like he was dead.

One day he was here, the next day he wasn’t. There was no packing, no transition period, he was just gone. I couldn’t call him, talk to him, text him. I had no idea where he was or what he was doing, or even if he was ok. It was as if he had dropped off the face of the planet.

I cry just thinking about it. It was horrible.

Maybe stronger women handle it differently. I was a blubbering idiot for weeks prone to crying spells in the middle of the grocery store or driving down the road. 

I’m 8 months into this journey, and I still have moments when I just cry out of the blue.

I miss my kid.

I can’t help it.

I wish someone had told me how hard it was going to be.

 

Let’s Get Real

If you are reading this because you are about to become a military mom for the first time then allow me a moment of complete and brutal honesty.

You cannot prepare for what is about to take place.

Your life will never be the same the moment your child gets on that bus, or plane, or shuttle van. I thought I knew that, and you will too, but the truth is that we don't.

There are some things that you can do to make things a little easier at least. Things that I wish someone had told me about a year ago when this journey began. Hopefully, these suggestions will make your journey a little easier.

 

Lean on Jesus

If you don’t know Jesus, please get to know Him. My faith has sustained me. Knowing that God has my son’s, and our family’s, best interest in mind - no matter what - has been the thing that grounds me and encourages me and keeps me from falling completely apart.

I honestly don’t know how anyone does military without God, I truly don’t.

 

If You Don’t Read Anything Else…

Buy the book Be Safe, Love Mom by Elaine Brye.

 

Read it, and then read it again, and again. Read it every time you think you might go insane not knowing what is going on with your kid. Elaine is a mother of four children, each of them in a different branch of the military. She has been through it all, and wrote a book about it! Her wisdom is so incredibly helpful.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

During Military Mom Basic Training, we learn to let go - or at least to try to let go, to start to let go. Our sudden lack of control over our son’s or daughter’s safety and destiny becomes painfully obvious, as we have no access to our kids at all..

It’s a strange situation we moms are in. We have to develop our calluses and get hardened to the hurt but at the same time stay flexible and make the best of what we do have. We have to stretch beyond where we thought we could stretch yet keep our feet firmly planted on the ground…Because at some point, all hell breaks loose.

And perhaps the hardest sentence to swallow in the entire book…

As far as the military is concerned, mothers don’t ever need to know.

 

Education is Key

Learn as much as you can about the branch your child is joining. Learn all of those military acronyms and what they stand for because your kid will suddenly have a whole new cryptic language.

Find out what happens during Basic Training and what happens afterward. What about the MOS they’ve chosen? Do you understand what it is and what is involved? What will their daily job be like after Basic?

There are numerous places on the internet where you can find out just about anything you’d want to know.

 

Find Support

Find a support group of military parents. I found a fabulous support group on Facebook and the mother’s there were amazingly helpful women. I strongly encourage you to find one before your child leaves for basic training.

As Elaine Brye shares in her book (mentioned above):

The band of military mothers and fathers is strong, and its members know the price we all pay to let go time and time again. Other military parents can help you carry your backpack on the days it feels loaded with cement blocks. Whether you find them in person or virtually or simply know they’re out there battling with you in spirit, it’s a comfort and a gift to realize that you are not alone.

I couldn’t agree more.

These groups can be rather difficult to locate since a lot of military stuff is so secretive. If you’re looking for a support group and can’t find one please feel free to contact me. I will do my best to help you find one.

When My Son Joined the Army at LifeInTheNerddom.com

Blue Star Mothers

Find your local Blue Star Mothers chapter and attend a meeting. Networking with other military moms who understand where you are is immensely helpful. Even if you don’t FEEL like it, go anyway.

 

Allow Yourself to Grieve

It took me quite a while to realize that I needed to grieve. I had all of these incredibly strong emotions that kept bubbling over (at the most inopportune times I might add) and I could not make sense of them.

I kept telling myself to pull it together, that I was being a big baby. After all, my son is a grown man right? Why on earth couldn’t I just move on??

Then it hit me one day...I had to grieve.

Grieve the loss of life as we knew it, the loss of control, the loss of being able to protect my child, the loss of his presence in our home, the loss of who he was before he entered the gates of Fort Benning, the loss of my normal!

When we think of grieving we generally associate it with death, but there are times when we just need to grieve because life will never be the same again.

This is one of those times.

Embrace that and go through the grieving process.

 

I’ll part with a few encouraging words…

I’d like to leave you with a rather lengthy quote from Elaine Brye’s book. I have this section of her book underlined, highlighted and starred repeatedly because it has been the source of the most encouragement these past few months. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I read it as a reminder.

When a child leaves home for college or a job, it can be an unsettling and sad transition, even if it’s exciting too. Your child has just left home not for college, or for a job, but in order to become a warrior, to willingly fight in some of the most dangerous places and situations in the world. It makes sense that the experience feels daunting to you, even harrowing.

Every military career begins with a grueling, intense, and agonizing initiation period…It’s designed this way because our sons and daughters must immediately and irreversibly strip themselves of their old identities, their former lives. Because life as they know it will never be the same.

The same is true for the families back home. While our loved ones are away, acclimating to their new lives as soldiers, we also are undergoing our own initiation period, adjusting to our new identities as military mothers and fathers and wives and children. The shock of this new life is not absorbed more easily just because we have the comforts of home and other family and friends around us. The loss is just the same. Letting go - of our sons and daughters, of our control, of our old lives - requires the courage of a warrior and the endurance of a marathoner. We need to understand that we are at the beginning of a long and steep road.

I do know this: after you take the first step on that long and steep road, the second step will follow. And then the third, and the fourth, and eventually, the process will be almost as automatic as breathing: one foot will follow the other, again and again and again. Each day you’ll wake up and letting go will get just a tiny bit easier.

But you must take that first step. You must let your children climb aboard that bus to follow their calling. And we will all march on.

 

Amen sister, amen!

When I first read that I called Mrs. Brye a liar - out loud if I recall correctly. My son had barely been gone a week and I was in so much pain. I didn’t believe her at the time, but I’ve learned that it’s all true. It does get easier.

And when you see your child in their uniform you are going to be so incredibly proud that you'll feel like you will burst. He (or she) will return to you more complete, more confident and sure of himself, and more appreciative of his family.

It’s so hard to go through, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, but in the end, it’s so worth it.

 

Are you a military mom, or soon to be one? I’d love to hear your story! Please share in the comments below.

 

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49 Comments

  1. Pingback: Teaching My Kids the True Meaning of Memorial Day - Life in the Nerddom

    • Hi Judith. Please thank your son for his service! And thank you for taking a moment to stop by The Nerddom.

  2. Hello! My son, and only child, is leaving to basic in a month. Some days I am OK, and others I just want to stay home and cry. He is enlisted for 6 years….6 years. Hard pill to swallow. Trying to be strong because I do not want him to worry about me when he leaves. But yes, I wish I could beg him to stay. However I know the army will provide him a way to reach his dreams in a way I can’t. Really wish I was a millionaire. Thank you for your story!!!! I hope you can follow up on your experience with AIT and when they get shipped for their MOS.

    • You can do this! I realize that sounds impossible at the moment but it does get better. Never easy, but better. Please read Elaine Brye’s book and get plugged into a support group. It really does help!

  3. My oldest is leaving in Jan for basic….I’m a wreck and trying to hold it together for my 4 younger ones. I’ve had to protect him thru so much in his life and now he expects me to just let him go lol. We don’t know anyone in this situation so everyone just says well he’s an adult time to let go. Well it’s NOT that easy. He wants infantry on top of it all and I’m just scared out of my mind and can only think of all the bad things when I get thinking….but like you I feel proud….just incredibly scared! He’s almost living these last 3 months as a bucket list and last days of sorts. Hard for this mom to grasp…..I know many many moms for 100’s of yrs have done this, I just don’t think I’m strong enough! I will be buying that book for sure!

    • Your story sounds like a repeat of our own! Our son spent the last few weeks hanging out with his friends, going on trips, etc. and he went straight infantry as well. You can do this! I will send you some resources via email. Thanks so much for taking a moment to share your story!

  4. My son is at basic right now at Fort Leonardwood. this is the hardest thing I have ever done . People say I’m craxy when I tell them that this is harder than when I had to bury my dad. To grieve someone that is alive is heart wrenching. I was hoping as time went on it got a little easier but it’s the total opposite. He sent me a letter last week and he told me he had to be hospitalized for a day bc he had pneumonia. Now if that didn’t make my worries worse. How did u get thru it ?

    • Kristy, I can’t say that it ever gets easier, but it does get better. You get better at coping and find a new normal. I am 18 months into this adventure and I still have difficult days. Support is absolutely crucial! If you’d like, I would be happy to email you a link to a fabulous Facebook support group. Hang in there, mama. You will get through this I promise.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this! My son has been flirting with the idea of joining the Army for about a year. I thought he had decided against it, but just informed me he is joining. I feel like someone kicked me in the stomach. I had tears in my eyes reading this. He and I have an amazing relationship and it hurts beyond belief to think he’ll be leaving. Again, thank you!

  6. I had tears reading this! I’ve been here and done all of that. How about that phone call they have to make that scripted and then they just hang up.. talk about a cry fest!!! My son has been in for almost a year, he is active duty and currently station in Alaska, we are no where near Alaska. My second oldest leaves in June(active duty as well) he will be going to basic and AIT at the same places his older brother went. It will be interesting to see how much harder it is for you to have to walk away from a second child. I’m dreading it. Our third has plans to join as well.. and our youngest I’m just going to keep and never let him leave! Ladies, it does get easier.. once they are done with AIT and report to their duty station or come home if they are reserve.. you get to FaceTime and call and text as much as you want! Well when they aren’t working that is.
    Your child will show (like the author mentioned) a much greater love and appreciation for his family. They become a whole new person. And you’ll catch yourself wanting to mention how YOUR child is a soldier! Because you are so very proud! It’s a rough start, but is so worth it in the end!

    • Tasha, you’re right, that scripted phone call is terrible! I got mine at 4:15 am! When I answered the phone my son said “Wow, I didn’t think you’d answer!” then started his script. Ha!

      He was almost stationed in Alaska. He called us while we were on the way to BCT graduation to tell us that he wasn’t going there after all. Didn’t find out his FDS until after Turning Blue. That was a roller coaster weekend!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  7. Oh this is so true! My son went to Infantry at Ft Benning in June 2017. You put my feelings into words. There were points when I was sobbing while reading this. I hadn’t thoughtof it in terms of grief.
    Great read!

      • Thank you for writing this. I just shared it with my 3 biggest supporters, my BFFs from church, lol. My son leaves in 11 weeks for Ft. Sill. He is currently a senior in high school and has been in the Future Soldier program since August. I went through a TERRIBLE first couple of months after signing away my parental rights since he is 17 and will still be 17 until after basic. I have gotten better….that is up until now… Not only is he about to graduate high school, but he will leave 3 short weeks after graduation for BCT. So I am having a hard time. I have an AMAZING support group on fb. And an even more amazing church community.
        Anyway… Thank you for being Army Mom Strong and helping others to be as well.

  8. Mrs. Nerfer,
    I came across your story and couldn’t believe just how much it reminded me of what I went through when my son joined the Army at 18. He had only been out of high school for 3 weeks when he left for Basic Training. That was July 2016. Every single sentence in your story is so incredibly similar to my story, it was as if I was reading my own story. My son was just deployed overseas for the first time last week and it’s been nothing short of a roller coaster ride to he’ll and back. To this day I still remember and still feel the pain that I have experienced since the day he left. After the initial “goodbye” before basic training, I too was left with terribly dark thoughts and feeling like I just wanted to die. My son always said “Mom, you need to cut the cord”. So easy for him to say but so incredibly difficult for us moms to do. I still really haven’t “cut the cord”. Not sure I ever will!
    Thank you for posting your story. It always feels encouraging to me that there are other military moms out there that are in the same situation.

    Sincerely,
    K. May-Franklin

    • Kari, your son went in the month before mine 🙂 It IS very encouraging to know there are others in the same boat. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thank you so much for this article! My son (youngest of three and still think of him as my baby boy) went to college for 1 year and a semester before, completely out of the blue, coming home one weekend to tell us he was enlisting in the Army. We had never expected it and were quite frankly blown away. He was afterall nearly 20 years old so there is no way of stopping him and we certainly did not want to discourage it. We had always supported our children’s decisions and guided them to be independent adults. He is now 8 weeks into Basic Training. I went through the same “greiving” process… so much worse in the beginning. I felt such emptiness in our home and in my heart. It’s true… everyday it gets a little better. Having said that, I still worry about him. I still feel that emptiness and I still miss him. He has been able to call us a few times. The blessing for me is that he has sounded happy and at peace. Honestly the happiest he has sounded in a very long time. And as I look forward to seeing him on May 24th, 2018 on graduation day, I know I will see a different person really. No longer a little boy but now a grown man who will be serving our country. I couldn’t be any prouder of him. ❤

    • You’re right….that emptiness is tough. I still feel it too and he’s been gone 18 months. I think there’s something about having them ripped from our lives in the way they are…takes a little longer to adjust and learn to accept the new normal in our lives. You’re also right about the person you’ll see on May 24th. He will be very different. It is amazing to me the changes in our son, most of which are good 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to share!

  10. My son has been in for a year now, and everything yo9u have said is everything i have felt and more. Thank you for sharing.

  11. We dropped our 18 year old off at the airport on 8-28-2017. He has signed up with the Nat’l Guard and was headed to basics. We hugged and said our “see ya laters”. I thought wow, that went pretty good. Much better than what had played out in my mind. We drove the one hour home. He was the youngest of two. The last one at home. I unlocked the door and walked in…there sat his shoes and that was the end of “wow, that went well”. Broke down in tears. Over the weeks it got easier. Basic graduation came and went. He went off to AIT, came home for Christmas then left again. You think you are okay, then on the radio station comes “Boy” by Lee Brice and you lose it all over again. You catch yourself listening to military songs, pinning military mom pins on Pinterest, looking at uniformed soldiers with even more pride than you ever had before. I am so proud of my son but extremely emotional in so many ways. He wrote a Will and signed up for 6 years at the age of 17. This is what he has dreamed of since he was about 5 years old. He’s part of the 1% who is willing to protect our freedom but he’s still my little boy. He graduates from AIT next week. He will start the next phase of his military career and we will start ours.

    • You’re right Paula, there are a few songs that bring out all of the emotion! I can’t listen to the National Anthem without crying, or even say the Pledge of Allegiance for that matter! How we look at things changes forever, right? Thank you so much for stopping by and taking a moment to share your story.

  12. Wish I would have read all of these reflections a few months ago. My son was attending U of M on scholarship when he decided, after a very successful first year, to join the Navy. It has been heart wretching for me. He was always my shy guy, hiding behind my leg, welling up with tears as he left for school, choosing to stay home vs go out with friends as he got older. However, he has always wanted to be the best of the best! So, off he went. He is currently at Great Lakes but headed for San Diego soon. So proud, so scared, so empty and so trusting that God’s got this!

    • Mine was always a quiet one as well, Sue. He’s still a man of few words, but there’s this underlying confidence now. You’ll see it in your boy too 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. My son also enlisted in Aug 2016. Headed to Ft. Benning and is now in TX. My other son just recently enlisted and is now at Benning. So many things I agree with you it’s like we’ve lived parallel lives and our son’s did too!! Lol this Army life is tough and it’s hard not having them home. I’ve never been so sad, worried, excited, and PROUD all at the same time. I bawled going to grocery store and standing next to the hot pockets broke down bc I couldn’t buy them. I found that random acts of tears became my new normal as well. I found a great group on line as well. I would add that if you don’t find a Blue Star Moms group in your area, start one I did and you will be so surprised at how many mommas you have in your area. Thank You for sharing your story!!! HOOAH Momma 🇺🇸💚🇺🇸

    • I feel you on that grocery store thing! I’ve cried in the grocery store, at red lights where I would remember a conversation we had waiting there, when I would ride by places he would hang out…ugh, it was terrible for a while. I’m certain people thought I was insane 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!

  14. Hi. Our Son always spoke about joining the USA ARMY, since he was a little boy. However I was really Proud and Happy when he decided to attend college. I thought he had change his mind… Almost 19 month’s after his college graduation, he “said Mom, Dad am ready to follow my dream”. We’ve alway’s encourage our kid’s to follow their dreams. …. I really did not expect his deployment be as fast as it did. I never forget how happy he was when he took his test and Ace’d it. I was proud of how smart my baby was. But the entire process from the test to deployment took less than 4 week’s.
    I am extremely proud of him but, I cry every day. I miss him do much.
    I wish I read you’r post sooner.
    Thank you for all your help and support.
    Strong Army Mom!!!

    • Bless you, Judy. What a whirlwind ride! Our prayers are with you and your soldier. I have a son-in-law that serves as well who is currently deployed. It is tough to have them so far away and not be able to see them for such a long period of time. I am thankful that we have modern conveniences such as internet and cell phones to keep in touch with them! I cannot imagine how hard it was for families before those things! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  15. Reading this brought me right back to those dark days of mourning. My son has been gone for 13 months. He is enlisted in the Air Force, and currently stationed overseas. At 20 he left us, and I have never been the same. I still can cry just getting lost in my own thoughts in my head. But , thank god for technology and sandboxx letters. Thank you for sharing your story. Just knowing that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way too is comforting. My God bless our children as the serve and always keep them safe! The power of prayer is huge. I just ordered that book!!!

    • Thank you, Gina, for taking a moment to share. You’re absolutely right, prayer is incredibly powerful! I hope you enjoy the book. It is such a helpful resource!

  16. Wow. I’m so happy to have read this. I too have referenced the same section of Be Safe, Love Mom!!!. I’m in so much shock at how fast the last 6.5 months flew, and next week my soldier graduates as a 68W. This was a great read… we aren’t ever alone, as we remain ARMY Mom Strong!

    • Isn’t it a fabulous book? Mine is falling apart I have referenced it so often. You’re right about time flying. It seems to creep by at first, but then it’s gone in a flash. We’re 18 months in now! Crazy. Thank you for taking a moment to share!

  17. Thank you so much! I’m a newby at this. My son just left to Basic Training on Monday. The days prior to Monday I cried, that day i cried like a baby. I cry in the car where no one can see me. Why does everyone tell me to stop crying? I tell my self his not dead, I know where he is. I pray to Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary. Is so hard to let him go. I want time to fly! I want to hold my baby boy! I will follow ur suggestion, will look for a group to help make things a bit pleasant. Thank you again

  18. Yes, definitely exactly my story. I feel like I just read about myself and what I have experienced in the last 9 months since my son joined the military! My son is now on deployment and I have never prayed so much in my life as I do now! Counting down the days when I will get to see my son. You have beautifully written on point what we all experience and go through when our children have joined the military. Thank you for sharing your story and helping us all feel like we are not alone in our new roles as military parents.

  19. Omg. This is a hard read. As I have locked myself in the bathroom crying because my son is at the very beginning and heading to MEPS next week.
    Being a stay a home mom I remember thinking that all thoses sleepless night will go away. But they don’t. I know I have to let him go but it’s hard! Thank you for this read. It’s gonba be a long road ahead!

  20. As I read this I felt like I was reliving the days leading up to and the day my son left for basic.. He 19. His story is very much the same as yours.. He had no direction wasn’t happy.. instead of him showing me his papers I got a text message.. well Mom.. it’s a done deal. I signed the papers today.. I’m joining the army.. GUT PUNCH!!! He turned 19 on Dec 30 and left on Jan 2nd.. this is a new adventure for us as well.. never thought this was part of my plan.. Army Mom.. but what I have learned is.. to be brave and accept the challenge.. if my son can willingly step up for his country.. I can step up and support him every step of the way.. I had to grieve.. I grieved his childhood.. that he didn’t need me anymore.. that he was stepping into adult life and leaving me behind.. and I agree.. the only way I gain my strength is through Jesus.. he sustains me daily.. thank you so much for sharing… #armystrong #armymom #weraisedourheros

  21. Out of the blue my son said he wanted to join the National Guard. Wow! That’s great! We dropped him off with the recruiter the day he left for basic and said our see ya laters and I was surprised no tears were shed. He came home over Christmas and dropping him off at the airport was a little tougher, but still went well. No tears came until graduation from basic. I am not sure I have stopped since. Trying to stay strong for the other children, but it is getting more and more difficult. This is the reality of trying to let go. And it’s not going very well. I too have recently come to realize that I need to mourn life as we knew it and the fact that I have essentially lost my boy. He is now a grown man and a soldier. Nothing will ever be the same and I thinks it sucks that there is not a transition period. It changes in the blink of an eye. And no one that hasn’t gone through it will never understand. I am so incredibly proud of my son and would never try to discourage him from following his dreams. I don’t think any of us would, but what I wouldn’t do for one day to just sit and talk to him again. Like it was before. Knowing what I know now.

  22. My son just arrived at his fds after graduating osut at ft Benning…..he went from 6 hrs away to know 3100 miles away. He’s only 18 and we are super close but now he’s distancing himself and it’s killing me! His siblings and I miss him so much …I’m afraid he’s now having too much freedom and will forget about us all together….it’s just hard the army does nothing to keep families together and I don’t want my son to think it’s ok to lose us, he’s my best friend and now he’s just gone

  23. My son just left Tuesday March 27th for the Air Force. My heart is broken into. His dad and I divorced when he was 3 and had joint/shared custody until he was 5. Then he lived with his father full time and me every other weekend which was rapidly weeded out until I barely saw him at all. That’s a whole other chapter in life though. So, he recently moved in with me about 6 mos ago not long after turning 18. He technically would be graduating high school this June, but he graduated early and decided he didn’t want to walk or go to prom and wanted to go ahead and join. In the first week after moving in with my husband and I he transferred to a new high school, got a new job, and didn’t look back. I am still amazed at the huge decisions and changes he made with such strength. He knew he didn’t want to go down the college road at this time and he didn’t want to hang around and work locally like his father wanted him to, so he took the advice of my husband which was in the Army and starting looking into the military route. He decided that was the path and didn’t look back. Meanwhile, the two of us started building our relationship back and it feels like it was just Christmas and I was thinking to myself how March 27th was a couple months away and we had a lot of time to spend together. Well, we all know how fast time flies when it comes to your children. There is never enough of it. I was just getting to know him again after not living with him for 13 years and now I feel like he’s been ripped away again. It’s bittersweet I guess you would say. Im so happy for him. Im so proud of him. You could see on his face this was what he wanted, needed, and was searching for. On the other hand I’m so angry we didn’t have more time together, and I so sad. Just sad. In my mind I know when I see him again he will be more confident and so much more happy within himself, but my heart is grieving for the young man I was just beginning to know again. He would just hug me and say Mom, I’m gonna be okay, don’t worry. I said, I know you’re going to be okay, I’m not. Please pray for the both of us.

  24. My son hit me out of the blue with his enlistment followed by marrying his longtime girlfriend (the engagement came later!) He’s been transformed by basic training and is now just finishing AIT. We saw him after basic and again at Christmas- life is so different and I do grieve the loss of what was. We haven’t heard where they will be going yet — I’m hoping of course for somewhere safe. So far I’ve missed his 21st bday and Easter together – next will be Mothers Day. Letting go is something I have to remind myself to do daily.

  25. I needed this but I can’t say it helped. My beautiful son is dropping out of school to enlist. He’s choosing front line jobs. Its always been me and him. He’s all I have. And all I can do is imagine having to bury him. I’m trying to be supportive, but I’m so heartbroken I’m barely functioning. I can’t imagine it ever getting better.

  26. Hi!! I’m so glad I came across this article and will be buying the book. My oldest is leaving for Fort Benning in June. I cried like a baby reading this. The only difference with me is my son has been on this path since he was very little. He actually enlisted last year, his junior year. He will leave two weeks after graduation. Time is flying so fast. Thank you so much.

  27. This resonates so much with me (I read this with tears streaming down my face). My youngest son left for basic nearly five years ago, and has also served a nine month deployment. All that time away was so, so hard. I spent many sleepless nights and cried buckets of tears. Even with all of that, I am so grateful to be able to watch my son make this journey.

    The Army has helped him become the man he is today, and I am so very proud of him.

  28. Oh my gosh, I could have written this article….it is exactly my story except my son is 29! He just left April 17th so I am still extremely new to this. I have already read Be Safe, Love Mom. I’m not sure how to get in touch with moms like me. My son wants to be in Special Forces, so that adds to my anxiety. I appreciate knowing I’m not the only mom taking this so hard! Love to you all!

  29. This was awesome reading cause even though my son is married I felt the same way when he told me he had join the army and would be leaving for basic training. And may I say he lived 2 states away from me. My dad,uncles and cousins were in the army, I knew about it but when it’s you son that was different. Now he is in AIT. My job wouldn’t let me off for his basic training in Oklahoma but my daughter in law gave me to watch it live. And I have reqested off for his next graduation,just praying for finances to get to Missouri to be there. Iam so proud of him!

  30. As the mother of a career soldier, I can honestly say it is never easier. I never dreamed that I would see my child only twice a year. However, you do learn to accept it. I have been a proud, lonesome, worrying military mom for almost 12 years. Mine went in at 24 because the Army paid for his college first. When he wouldn’t commission, (he believes that non commissioned officers are more respected) the Army punished him and refused to let him join, and they dumped his college costs on him. After a year he was able to enlist, but he still is paying for that education. He has deployed twice in war areas. He has been a medic, sniper, he is ranger qualified, and now is a green beret. So while the Army has benefitted from his education, he still pays nearly 500.00 a month for it. Do I think the Army is unfair. Yes. Does it fulfill my son to serve? Yes. I will be an old woman when he finally retires and moves back to our state. I hate that this is the life the chose, but it makes me feel complete. Sometimes, mamas just have to finally pull up their big girl panties and go forward. I keep reminding myself of this as he heads to very unstable part of the world that few people realize we have men. (Yes, in this case only 45 men.). You learn to pray and pray some more.

  31. Thank you for sharing! My son leaves in two weeks for Basic Training. The moment I think I have it all together and I’m fine is when I realize I wrong. I have faith that God will protect him and give me the strength I need, but this is still so hard to go through. I needed to read this from another mother experience to not only understand what’s to come, but to know I’m not crazy to feel all these emotions.

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