color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Thoughts of A Soldier's Mom in a Time of War...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thoughts of A Soldier's Mom in a Time of War...

As we approach the redeployment in the next few months, I have begun reflecting on these past 10 months. I have never been to war but I have sent a child to war.

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. Same for wives (but I assure you the intensity is different...)

People -- especially other mothers -- tell me that they can not imagine what that would be like... that they would be a basket case 24 hours a day. Yes, that's it. It's like you live standing on your tippy-toes every day your child is away... and you live on the edge of breathlessness... a mental asthma attack gasping and gasping for strength and sanity and peace of mind. On the outside, we smile bravely and say, "you find the strength." And we do find the strength, but the truth is that we really only find distractions from our worry, our anxiety, our heartache.
We go to jobs. We try to maintain some semblance of our lives, but those lives have changed. And we blog. We write letters. We send cards. We shop for things to send our soldiers. We pack things for our soldiers. We stand in line at the post office to mail things to our soldiers.
We talk about them. We live for the opportunity to talk with them. Then we talk to others about what we talked about with our soldiers. And we wait for another chance to talk to them again.

We learn to use all the technology available to stay in touch and to try and keep track of them. We listen for our computers to make odd noises when our soldiers are online. We listen for our phones... for the special rings we have programmed so we know if we have to answer that call. We forward phones; we pull to the side of the road to text message back to our soldiers; we give up our place in grocery store lines to run outside so the reception on the phone is better when they call. We get used to the smiling stares from people when we say, "I'm sorry, I have to take this call... my son is calling from Iraq." And we wouldn't care if they did mind -- we're taking that call no matter what.
We watch the news and when we can't stand it another minute, we stop watching the news. We have the television tuned to some news channel that supports the military even when we aren't watching it, we're listening to it. And we breathe in sharply and hold our breath when we hear, "soldiers were killed today and wounded in an explosion..." and we exhale when they say the name of the province or the town and it's not your soldier's town or province. If it is their province or town, we get online and begin searching for details because we know the news is hours old by the time it makes the television news and there might be something more somewhere...
We check newspapers and websites for pictures of soldiers from our soldier's unit in the hope that he might be in one... Never mind that the picture might be days or weeks old, it is at that moment proof positive that our soldier is just fine and he'll call any time now.
We talk or email other parents. We wonder what they've heard. We offer support when they're down (and we all get down) and we call when we're down 'cause we know they understand completely. We trade jokes, we trade information, we even trade recipes.
We think about our soldiers day in and day out. And not just the soldiers we're related to -- but all the soldiers we know in their units and don't know in their units. When we wake, we calculate the time in Iraq and wonder what they're doing. It's a task we'll do many times every day. When we're sitting to dinner, we wonder what they had to eat today... wonder if they even got a hot meal today. They'll pop up in our heads while we're doing dishes, walking to our cars, doing laundry.
We pray for our soldiers. We pray to keep them safe, we pray for their wounds to be healed when they are wounded, we pray for their souls when they die, we pray for the ones left behind to mourn. We pray for the parents in Iraq, and for their children who are now soldiers, too... and for those children protected by the soldiers there. We pray for peace. Every minute of every day we pray for peace and for our children to come home.

We cry. We cry when they haven't called or written and we cry when they do. We cry because we miss them and because we are so frightened for them. We cry when they leave and when they return and then leave again... We find that the smallest of things make us teary-eyed... walking in their room... seeing a picture... seeing a soldier. Watching the news, reading the news, hearing the news. Yes, we cry. There's nothing like a good cry to set your head straight. Our soldiers get used to it -- they don't understand -- but they know it just is.

Although we send one child (and my heart knows no limits to the compassion I feel for those mothers with two or more service members in the war!), we adopt many more... and eventually ALL soldiers -- every soldier, sailor, marine, airman -- become our sons and daughters.

We can not see a soldier anywhere without approaching them and thanking them and telling them that we, too, have a soldier.... because we all know that all soldiers have the same blood and speaking with that soldier makes us feel like we are talking to our soldier. We hug them if they let us -- and we hug them whenever we can. And we know somewhere there is a mom thanking us for taking the time to talk to (and for hugging) her soldier. She would do the same for me.

If we can not speak to that John Doe soldier, we smile wistfully... we get a pang... and our eyes may fill with tears knowing that when we look at that soldier, we are looking at our own soldier. Ask any soldier's mom -- she'll tell you... It's a universal response.

And mixed with this fear and longing is pride. Indescribable pride for these children of ours. Pride that they made the choice to serve. Pride that they accepted the challenge and met it spectacularly! Pride that they do their jobs under the most extraordinary of circumstances. We often ask ourselves, "Did I raise this person?" "How could I have done things so right?" We know we are blessed to have these spectacular creatures in our lives.

And for our entire family and the friends of our family -- and even the readers of this blog -- the rest of our lives will be forever altered by knowing how close we came.
And for the soldiers who have fallen and for their families, we will BE THERE. We will tell their story. We thank them. We will remember them. We will remember all of them. Always.
To our Guys... and those that serve with them, we thank you all. We live in Freedom and with Liberty because of you.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


At 11/28/2005 5:55 PM , Blogger Stacy said...

You never cease to amaze me. You definately speak for all of us mothers. Our soldiers never leave our heart and mind. I go to bed thinking about our guys and I wake up thinking about them.

These last 11 months have changed my life and the lives of many other mothers I am sure.

Thanks so much SSM for speaking for all of the moms that have soldiers deployed. You have been such an inspiration to me these last 11 months. Don't know what I would have done without you.

Thanks for always being there.

At 11/28/2005 6:07 PM , Blogger Rachelle Jones said...

amazing post as always....

just when I think you can't do it hit one out of the park.....

At 11/29/2005 12:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have two sons in the service, a son in the Marine Corps and a son in law in the Army. Although neither has been deployed to Iraq yet, we all know it is just a matter of time.

Sister, you hit the nail on the head! If I'm going crazy now, what will I do later??

Thanks for putting every parent's thoughts into print!

Bob Perrow

At 11/29/2005 5:26 AM , Blogger ma content said...

Thank you so much for that beautiful post. I'll be linking to it, and I hope you don't mind if I excerpt a few lines. I've had sons in the service for 7 years now; three in Iraq, the last (!?) one home next month. Everything you said is so true, and I am so grateful to you for saying it so much better than I ever could.

At 11/29/2005 6:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don´t know how to put in words what I feel. I´m married to a soldier who´s deployed to Iraq right now. We just got married one month before he left to war. I may be young and I know the feelings of a mom are different but of the same intensity as those of a wife. I want to thank you for posting your thoughts and for hugging and thanking those soldiers you meet. I´m grateful because I know it could be my husband. God bless you and your family especially your son who´s fighting for our freedom right now. Anja

At 11/29/2005 6:23 AM , Blogger David M said...

I wish I had found your blog long before I did. You have a way with words that makes us all realize how special life and freedom is.

At 11/29/2005 7:13 AM , Blogger barb pfister said...

Thanks so much for putting in to words what the rest of us feel all the time. I know my soldier is home but there are so many more still over there that we are praying for everyday.


At 11/29/2005 7:38 AM , Blogger LoveMyTanker said...

Bless you!

At 11/29/2005 9:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could substitute wife and still be right on the money. Thank you for articulating what we all feel, Moms, wives, brothers, and sisters, etc. Sometimes you don't realize how much you are like that but your post rings the sobering truth... we live this war at home everyday. The phone ringing at odd hours never bothers us anymore but a knock at the door now makes you hold your breath! This is our life and thank you for putting it so eloquently!

At 11/29/2005 3:26 PM , Blogger sher said...

"If there be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may know peace" Thomas Paine

I hold this in my heart as I look at my own sons while my husband is gone.... I pray that the sacrifices he is making today to fight this war will bring peace in the years to come and keep our children home. Your own son's efforts will hopefully do the same for his own children. Chin up... we are the homefront.. the few, the proud, the sometimes scared

At 11/29/2005 5:24 PM , Blogger Melinda said...

Another beautiful, meaningful and on-the-money post from you, SSM!!! I love the way your words paint pictures almost more vivid than the actual photos you choose to share with us. :)

At 11/30/2005 10:20 AM , Blogger Fermina Daza said...

What a wonderful post, as always. I iam forwarding it on to my MIL - she has 3 sons in the Army, one of which did a deployment in Iraq in 2003 and one who is in Afghanistan right now.

Thank you.

- hfs

At 11/30/2005 6:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog is amazing, as are your others. And I have to say thanks for writing these. It is definetly true that we are always praying for our soldiers. God Bless!

At 11/30/2005 7:53 PM , Blogger Crazy Politico said...

You are an incredible writer. Could I please borrow half of your talent.

With Moms like you behind them, our soldiers can't help but do good. Thanks again for your wonderful blog.


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