Tuesday, June 21, 2011

reality check

Early last November there was excitement at my house.
Our middle son, a high school senior, had gotten an impressive
ASVAB  score, one that opened the door to a world
of opportunity for a very bright kid who is a bit of a, shall we say,
non-conformist. This boy loves to work, loves to DO things, figure
out things, fix things. He is impatient with extraneous stuff-
like elective classes. He wants to learn useful things, that pertain
to the job at hand. Nuke school sounds like the place for him.

So last fall, through the winter, even this spring~ his ship date 
of 8/8 seemed distant. It was easy to be excited
and happy about his choice to sign a 6 year contract
with the US Navy. And now, at less that 2 months
until his departure, I am still excited and happy, but ~
 BUT~ reality is whispering in my ear.

I am thinking of how everyday life will be without 
this sweet, funny boy close by. He is my most
attentive child, the one (of 4) that looks out for me. 
He's a mama's boy~ not in a wimpy way, but in 
a sweet, loving way. I always thought he'd marry a sweet gal
and live around the corner. I thought they'd eat dinner with 
us a few times a week and he'd still carry heavy things
for me and kiss me on top of the head when he left.

But, this boy will sail the seven seas. He will learn
and grow and become a fine man and a sailor.
And it begins soon. 
It is what he needs to do and I am excited and happy.
I am. I am. I am.
That's my job. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

the choice to serve

Having a child make the decision to serve their country 
can really make a parent think. 

While many people regard the choice to enlist in military service
as a fall back for young people that have few options, 
nothing is further from the truth. Today's Navy is over-manned-
due to downsizing and the current economic climate in our country.
Most recruits (after passing extensive testing) will encounter a long
wait until their field has an opening. 

My son enlisted in November, graduated last month
and departs in August. He qualified for one of the few under-manned 
rates- nuclear field (only about 3% of the Navy). 
It is not easy to enlist and even before recruits leave for 
boot camp they begin learning the Navy way. My son is
in the Navy's Delayed Entry Program (DEP) and attends
meetings and is in regular, close contact with his recruiters. 
He is expected to learn material, practice drills and keep his 
nose clean until his departure. 

Young people who choose to enter military service and 
are able to qualify are privileged to serve and we, 
as US citizens,are also privileged to have them
 looking after us in a dangerous, complex world. 

The next time you hear of a young person making this commitment,
don't assume they had no other options. 
Instead, understand that they are embarking on a noble,
challenging endeavor to benefit not only themselves,
but also the greater good of our nation and the world.
Know that they are among a select group of young men 
and women that qualify and choose to live an uncommon life
of self- sacrifice and courage.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


My son went off cheerfully to his last day of high school last week.
I think he felt only happiness and an eagerness to move forward 
and leave his public school days behind.

Me? Not so much. 
My feelings were mixed. Another one of my "babies" finishing high school
is a great, but bittersweet feeling. Three down, one to go.
Where did the time go? 
Ah, well, it flies. Days, months, years~ all gone like fallen
snow when the sun comes beaming out. But it is a good thing, the way
of the world. We cannot stop time, but memories are a sweet
balm to the aching heart. I am happy, mostly. 
My son said, "Mom, why do people make such a big deal about high school graduation?
Everybody graduates!"... I told him it was a milestone, 
a distinctive marker in a young person's life, the end of an era~
but what does an 18 year old grasp about milestones? 
He is looking toward his bright, exciting future.

My son's recruiter was at graduation and even though
it is still two months until boot camp, this sure did feel 
like I was handing him over to the capable hands
of the U.S. Navy. 

So now I count the double digit days...
We need to get a power of attorney, go though my son's room...
Graduation was an ending, but also a beginning~
a new life awaits my son... and me. 
Ready or not.