I remember your birth with a sense of surreal awe. No amount of reading or preparation could have prepared me for the way you stole a hunk of my heart with your first gasp of air, your first instant of life outside of me. Your blue eyes looked into mine and it hit my that I was now a mother. Your mother.
The exhiliration and exhaustion fell aside a bit under the realization that, forever more, I had a job to do. I had an obligation and a duty to you that would never end. It scared me a bit but I swore I would be the best mother. A perfect mother.
I’m a most imperfect mother. It’s not that I didn’t try to be the best mother to you but I know I failed – in both large and small ways. I’m not sure I actually believe a perfect mother exists, honestly, but I still feel a sense of failure that I didn’t pull it off for you.
All your life I tried to balance love and wanting to give you everything with the lessons I felt you needed to learn to be a good person. A good human being. You didn’t get every toy you wanted. I made you work for things your friends got without effort. I tried to teach you moral values and the value of non-tangible things. I’d like to think I succeeded but I have no way of knowing whether it was because of my efforts or despite my efforts that you ended up the fine young man and soldier you are today.
There were times I locked myself in my room and cried when I made decisions that I honestly thought were the RIGHT decision but which tore me up to deliver. Tough love was really hard for me. Was it the right thing to do? I still don’t know.
When I saw you graduate from OSUT, I was SO proud and yet sad. You are an adult, a grown man with a demanding job that most people wouldn’t volunteer for. You got YOURSELF through a training program that many people could never make it through – even when all bets were against you. You pulled yourself along by your own bootstraps and took your buddies along for the ride.
You are your own person and a damned good one, too.
Now it’s a few days before Mother’s Day and I feel what I imagine a lot of other mothers feel. A sense of helplessness. A sense of loss. Gone are the days when you’d lay your head in my lap and watch tv with me. Gone are the days when you need your mother for anything. Yet you still carry a piece of my heart with you everywhere you go.
I worry about you and I worry for your safety. I can’t help it and no amount of rationalization makes it better. I know the statistics like the back of my hand but I still worry. I want to rush in and protect you, save you. But the time for that is past – you’re out there protecting and saving others instead.
I feel helpless and a bit lost, honestly. I don’t know if I’m doing the right things as an Army Mom. There’s no manual for this either. I’m trying not to drive you nuts – I know you have a fiancee who probably needs your attention more than I do. I even struggle with the desire to somehow make sure she’ll be a good wife to you – but I pull myself back, you’re an adult and it’s your decision. I just want you to be happy.
All I can do right now is tell you that I love you, I’m proud of you and I think of you every day and worry for your safety and well-being. Helpless or not, I will always love you and I’m forever your mom.