Welcome to The Club, Mary-Jo
So as a mother who has actually sent a child to war, I'd like to answer this mother.
Welcome to membership in a very elite club -- one you did not ask to join but one in which you should take immense pride: Mothers of those in the military. Imagine, Mary-Jo -- less than 1% of this country's population serves in the military -- so that sets you -- and us and our sons and daughters -- apart from most others. It is never more true when they say "You did not enlist, but you still serve."
We are an extremely diverse group: young and old, rich, poor and in-between. We are bankers, lawyers, stay at home moms, scrub women and some of us are retired. We have every skin color that God put on this Earth and some we made for ourselves.
We practice every faith, some practice no particular faith and some have no religious beliefs at all.
We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents while some have no political affiliation at all.
Some of us are married, some widowed, some divorced, some just single. We live border to border, coast to coast, and some live beyond our borders.
Some of us support the mission in Iraq and others, like you, do not. There is a very large group who do not care how or why we got there, but we have skin in this game and we want to be assured that when our sons and daughters come home -- when the military and not the politicians say the mission is complete -- that they never have to go back. And all of us never want to have to fight the enemy here. I suspect that your son shares these last two goals. I suspect that he supports the mission in Iraq as well.
While we may be a diverse group, we have a few common threads that run from and to and through each of us: we love our children and we worry when they are in harm's way. There is no group more united in its anti-war core for we know better than any other the price of those wars... but most of us understand that sometimes war is necessary. Lastly, while we may be divergent in our locations, faiths, economic standards, our races.. we mothers are a sisterhood like no other and we will support you while your son is deployed. We will be "here" for you while he is "there". Nothing else matters to us except that your child is serving. Through this club your son has become our son, and we hope our sons will be yours.
I hope Ms Cooney will revel in every minute of the pre-deployment leave she has with her son -- making memories that will last until he is home again... and then gone again.
I hope she will read So Your Child is Being Deployed for some practical advice about things she can or should do before he leaves and also while he's gone.
I hope she will take the time to read Thoughts of a Soldier's Mom in a Time of War in which I said (among a number of other things),
We mothers joke that we would go over and cook, clean and do laundry for our sons and daughters, but the truth is, we would trade places with them in a heartbeat to keep them safe. To keep them from being hot, cold, hungry, tired, sore and from being shot at or being blown up. I have never had more enthusiastic agreement from military moms than when I say that sending a child to war really is the most counterintuitive thing a parent can ever do. We spend the first 18+ years of their lives making sure they are not too hot or too cold; making sure they are protected from biting bugs and making sure no one is shooting at them. And now we are called upon to wave and smile as they leave for places that are always too hot, too cold, they have bugs the size of small dogs and people are shooting at them all the time.
The burden of having a loved one at war is without a doubt one of the heaviest burdens a mother can bear... but we will be here with you and for you, Mary-Jo to help you through until he is home again.