It's only in the last 18 months that I've gained an appreciation for the courage and sacrifices of our service personnel and their families. I've always been very grateful for those who protect us on our homeland as well as abroad. I know that they are underpaid and live in minimal housing, without many personal choices or freedoms, but it's been my initiation into the military mom club that's given me a deepen awareness for their personal sacrifices — and more importantly, the disruptive impact on the entire family.
Good Morning America just featured a two-day special on the effects of deployment on families. I can't image missing the birth of your first born, or having to be a single parent while worrying about the safety of your spouse. When we marry, we expect that our partner will be beside us to share in the good times and support each other in the difficult times. I treasure being able to crawl into bed at the end of a difficult day and have the warmth and comfort of my husband beside me. That's a luxury for military families — not the norm.
As the mother of a military kid, I'm immensely proud, but it hasn't been easy for me. Regardless of their ages, we still worry about our kids. Now my worries are bigger than I ever expected. I'm no longer stressed about his academics or even his finding a job. Now I worry about him suffering a terrible life-altering injury, being mentally damaged by war, or if I'll ever even see him again. The worries of my past seem so light and simple. I remember being seriously wound up about which college he would attend, if he would graduate with a GPA that would get him his dream job, or even if he would find the right spouse.
I've also had to change who I am as a person and a proud Mom. I've always been a photo nut, and I can no longer share pictures of my son. I've always been one to openly share the journeys of my kids, but now, the less that I say about him the better for his safety.
I have to find peace in not knowing where or what he is doing. I can't even ask about the weather. I can't talk about what little he does share with us. In some respects, it's like he's become our friendly family ghost; we're never sure when we'll see or hear from him next. When he's with us, it's beyond fun, amazing, and memorable: we laugh, joke, and are a normal family. And then he's gone again with no trace that he's ever even been with us.
But at the end of the day, I know in my heart that my son is doing exactly what he wants to do. I'm firmly convinced that he was brought on this earth to be a protector. He's courageous and determined to make this world a safer place. He's standing on the shoulders of thousands who have gone before him. He stands beside thousands of brothers and sisters who are equally devoted.
I am proud to say that I am a Military Mom, a role I never expect to take on. I will do everything I can to support my kid and every other son and daughter who gives me the privilege and honor of freedom. I will continue to pray for their safety, and for the safety and comfort of their families. They're all truly heroes, and I cannot adequately thank them for their service to our country.
God Bless this amazing country — land of the free, because we're the home of the brave!
More Parenting advice from YourTango: