Last December, my son told us he had decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. I was really shocked because years ago, when I mentioned the military for him, he was adamantly opposed. However, various experiences brought him to a place where he desired greater discipline and more challenges for himself, and once we got over the shock/fear, we believe that it has been an excellent choice for him.
I have not been silent about the fact that raising Ashton came with some extreme difficulties. And despite that, he and I share a bond unique to us because of our similar personalities.
Nothing could have prepared me for the process of his leaving for boot camp. Since he has been living on his own for several years, I didn’t think it would be hard at all. Boy was I wrong!
He left a week before Christmas, and on our Christmas vacation I was so sad, so scared and felt so lonely. Since you don’t have any contact for a few weeks (and then only letters for 13 weeks) it’s almost torture for a mom not knowing how they are handling the difficult challenges you’ve read and heard about. I know now, that only a mom who has experienced it can really understand.
So it wasn’t until I joined a Facebook group for parents of boot camp recruits, and then met up on a private chat (affectionally known as “The Mom Squad) with other moms whose sons were in my son’s platoon, that I finally got the courage and strength I needed to not be a basket case every day of the week! They were truly a God-send, and we are forever knitted together by the common bond our sons have given us.
(So big advice if you are a military mom: Find you a group of other military moms. They are the only ones who will understand what you’re going through, even better than your husband. 🙂 And learn flexibility. I’ve heard we’re going to need lots of it!)
Once he was able to send letters to us, he did so frequently and there are no words to describe the exhilaration of seeing his letter in my postal service informed delivery each night! His tenderness and affinity for home were very evident and it made our years of difficulty so worth it.
He is a really brilliant artist and one of the things I worried about was losing his creativity or just facing depression if he was unable to use his creative outlet. Then we got a letter saying he had been chosen as “Lead Artist Recruit” and spent lots of hours doing projects for the drill instructors! It made my whole year.
Much of my time those 13 weeks was spent combing Facebook posts of photographs various people on Parris Island snapped, looking for my son. There was just something inexplicable about laying eyes on him and seeing he was OK.
Running out to hug him on that first day before graduation was one of the most amazing moments of my life!
We are so proud of him and so glad to have boots in the house for another week before he enters his next phase of training. There are still so many unknowns and fears ahead, but I believe Ashton is where the Lord wants him to be, and there is no safer place than that.