We had lunch with our son yesterday, the youngest of our six kids. This morning my husband voiced the significant and weighty reality—the next time we see our son, he will be a Marine.
From the first day we met our son when he was 10 years old, he was all about the military, and in particular, the Marines. During his teen years, he had the typical back and forth uncertainty (“Nah, I’m not gonna go to the Marines…..I think I want to join the Marines…..maybe I’ll talk to a recruiter and see, but I don’t know..…”). But deep down inside, he never lost his desire, and now he is stepping into his young boy’s dream.
Adopting brothers who were older, we didn’t experience the many firsts of early childhood—their first steps, their first tooth, their first day of school, and many more. But life is full of firsts no matter what age we are, and we have been there for many other firsts, some exciting and some, well, not so much. Different firsts have brought various emotions, but through them all we have experienced much.
No doubt our son will have many firsts over the next number of weeks. Some I don’t think I need to know about; some, I want every detail I can get. It’s funny what you think about. I always wanted to be able to take him on his first airplane trip; now, the Marines will claim that honor. But I do wish I could see his face when it takes off! (Let’s see, how could I get the flight number and track down the flight crew to document the occasion for me?!)
And now, another first for us too, we are now Marine recruit parents.
Although we have family members on both sides who are veterans, this is our first child going to the military. I found a website resource. I poured over every section, every link, every piece of information. It was overwhelming, but so very informative and helpful. As I navigated through the various pages, I was kind of surprised at the myriad of emotions that came over me…tears, and excitement, and yes a little fear too, and a lot of pride. A “Recruit and Training Matrix” now hangs on the front of our refrigerator, a daily reminder of what is ahead for our son…and a specific prayer point for each day. The Sandboxx app is loaded and ready to send letters and set travel plans (for graduation).
Now we wait. For that call that says, “I have arrived.” Then we’ll wait some more. We’ll check off the days and know that “no news is good news.” It will be our initiation into what will become a frequent experience as he progresses through his Marine service.
It’s amazing all the things you think about. I think it’s worse than if he was going off to college. That’s a big deal, but this…this, is the Marines! We have a Marine in the making, and my heart is overwhelmed by all the things my mind has run through it just since lunch. But mostly, I am just so stinking proud of him!
And then, unexpectedly in the middle of this “first” we’re experiencing, I couldn’t help but think of our son’s birth family…especially his mother. I know she would be proud of him too. Someday I hope she gets to tell him. For now, when I hear people talk about what we’ve done for our sons and how we’ve changed their lives, all I can think of is the words of Leigh Ann Tuohy (in “The Blind Side” when her friend says, “you’re changing that boy’s life.”)— “No, he’s changing mine!”