When you have kids you always have a vision for them. Mine was kind of vague in reaction to how I had been raised. I wasn’t going to push my kids to be anything but happy in what they did. I kept that promise to myself, too. I never insisted, only suggested. I didn’t force music lesson, sports, enrichment classes or anything else on them. If they were interested in something? I made it happen. So my kids have always been free to make of themselves what they will.
What I didn’t realize at the time was what it would feel like when they were old enough to make a choice that I really didn’t agree with. Such as what I wrote about in From My House to the Halls of Montezuma when my third son joined the Marines. I was more upset by that than I let on at the time. Scared, really. The world is a dangerous place. And the Marines? They are the people that are called in when things get out of hand.
I swallowed most of that. Supported him. And he needed my support. Marine boot camp is a nightmare. My gentle, obedient, methodical son was not prepared for it. Up to that point in his life? The only real yelling he had experienced was at the hands of his brothers. People screaming at him constantly to hurry up and do other things was not something he adjusted to quickly. He was set back once. When I asked his commander why I was told “Being yelled at and told to hurry up seems to be a problem with him.”
Which is not something I did not know. The few times I had been tempted to yell at him involved his slowly, methodically putting on his shoes and socks. When we should have been out the door and down the road 5 minutes ago. So no big surprise there. It is a core part of him, being careful and methodical.
There were a couple of letters home that made me ache. I was torn in two. On the one hand, I wanted him to succeed because he wanted it. On the other? I wanted them to drop him so he could come home and pick something else to do that wasn’t so hard and painful. Mothers who love their sons don’t like to see them struggle.
In the end, he succeeded and went on to school in North Carolina. He is graduating his school tomorrow and then he comes here for 10 days before moving on to Pendleton where he will be a requisition clerk for the air wing out of Miramar. And he is happy. And excited. He got the duty station he wanted. He will be in the same state as me, too. Instead of across the ocean or the country. Granted, it is a 10 hour drive from here, but I’ll take it.
I am still not crazy about the Marines but…who cares. My son is happy and that was always my goal. Happiness and independence. So mission accomplished. Now my youngest son is making noises about joining the Army. One joined the Navy, one joined he Marines and now this. I keep waiting for one of the others to say “Oh, and by the way, I joined the Airforce.” I can hear The Powers That Be laughing at me from somewhere in the distance. “See?” they say “This is what happens when you teach them to make their own decisions…”
But I tell them to shut up because I wouldn’t have it any other way.