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February 20th, 2009 by InfantryMom

I’ve sent off a care package to InfantrySon and I know at least one or two more that have been sent. At the moment I’m finishing off another one and hope to send it early next week.

It’s been an interesting few weeks for me. I’ve not had news from InfantrySon but neither have I heard any bad news coming from his unit, so my supposition is that all is well and he’s just really busy. I got laid off in January so I’ve had some of the necessities of dealing with that to distract me as well.

With all the current economic crises and the unemployment rate skyrocketing, I want to make sure we all remember those men and women that are overseas and serving their country. I certainly don’t want to get so caught up in the cares of daily life that I take them for granted or don’t send things to them. It’s got to be hard to be away from home and know your friends and family are having difficulties as well, yet be powerless to help them or even cheer them on very much.

It’s easy to be generous when times are good – but don’t forget to be generous when times are tough as that’s when it’s often most needed.

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Blue Star Mothers

November 23rd, 2008 by InfantryMom

This week I’d like to introduce you to a group called the Blue Star Mothers. I found out about this organization through another blogger and did some research to discover it’s an organization I fully respect and support.

The Blue Star Mothers is a non-profit organization for mothers who have or have had children honorably serving in the military.

The Blue Star Mothers actually started in WWII, when a coupon was distributed in the Flint News Advertiser by Capt. George H. Maines for mothers of servicemen to fill out and return. Based on these returned coupons, a meeting was held by these mothers on February 1st. Because of the number of responses, a decision was made to form a permanent organization. The group was chartered by congress in June of 1960.

The history of the Blue Star flag is even older, however. It was created in 1917 and people hung it in their windows to show that a member of the family was serving in the armed forces. It was designed and patented in WWI by Army Capt. Robert L. Queissner. It caught on quickly.

The number of stars on the flag shows how many family members were serving.

“Turning Gold” is when a serving member is killed in action or listed as missing and a gold star is sewn on the flag to cover the blue star. There is also a Gold Star Mothers organization.

The Blue Star and Gold Star Mothers both are actively involved in supporting our troops in any way they can.

Although the first blue star flags were hand-sewn by those who were going to display them, I’m not up to that. But I ordered a blue star flag to hang on my porch next to the United States flag that is already there in InfantrySon’s honor. His deployment is drawing close and I want to remind anyone who sees it.

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Scrapbooking

September 14th, 2008 by InfantryMom

I found a nice Army scrapbook and I think I’m going to see if I can actually get a scrapbook started for InfantrySon. I have some great pictures from Turning Blue and Graduation and hopefully he’ll send more as he gets a chance.

Something to turn my attention to as soon as I’m off this book deadline.

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A Challenge to Parents

September 9th, 2008 by InfantryMom

I’ve been talking to a variety of other parents who now find themselves the parents of Soldiers. In some cases, this was not a surprise and they have had years to sort of get used to the idea that their child would enter military service. For others it’s come as a huge surprise and, honestly, at times a very unwelcome surprise. Their child may decide to enlist and tell the parents nothing about it until the day they leave. I’ve met a few who only knew when they got mail from boot camp.

For me it’s never been a real surprise. InfantrySon has been interested in military and military service since he was a small child. I was actually surprised when he didn’t join up as soon as he’d gotten his GED but I had always told him I’d support him and tried very hard to give him advice when asked but not to try to direct his life. If anyone meets me, they’ll quickly discover I’m a grade-A control freak – so this was hard for me. He was living on his own, near his father, so maybe that made it a bit easier when I got the call.

Early in 2008, InfantrySon called me to tell me he’d enlisted. He sounded tentative, nervous and said “Now don’t freak out, Mom…” But I didn’t freak out, really. I’d been expecting this news to come someday. I finished the phone call after asking him to keep me informed of when he’d report and to where and that I’d do my damndest to make sure we were at his graduation. By the end of the phone call, he was excited and somehow relieved. It took me a good day or two to wrap my head around the fact that he’d decided to set his feet on a real path, a good path but a difficult one.

I’ve made it a practice since I first became a mother to separate the fact that I love my children, no matter what, from whether I’m angry, hurt, disappointed or any other emotion. We are all capable of hating something a person does while still loving the person. Of not approving of a choice but still loving the one who made that choice.

The next time I talked to InfantrySon, a couple of days before he shipped off to OSUT, I tried to convey to him what I’d figured out I neded to say, after a week or two of really thinking about it. I told him I loved him and I was proud of him. I told him that I supported him and his choice and was behind him 100%. I told him I KNEW he’d make it through and become a Soldier and I couldn’t wait to see him in his uniform. Then I told him that I needed him to be patient with me because I’d spent his entire lifetime trying to help, teach and protect him and I didn’t think I would be able to NOT worry about him. I asked him to keep in contact as much as he could and endure my endless need for updates, news and reassurance. I loved him and trusted him, but I was still Mom.

There was a bit of a silence on the other end of the phone and I heard “I love you too, Mom. I’ll do my best.”

There were definitely times that I was scared. Times I felt out of touch. But every time I wrote or talked to him, I told him I loved him, I was proud of him and I supported his choice 100%.

I’ve not asked him if this had an impact on his OSUT success. I’d like to think it did.

But I’m saddened by stories I’ve heard since then. Young Soldiers whose families are so upset at their enlistment that they don’t write or even shun them completely. Soldiers who enlisted because they felt a need to and left their families, especially their mothers, abruptly and with hurt on both sides.

So I have a challenge for all parents of Soldiers – write a letter or speak to your Soldier and tell them how much you love them. Tell them that you might have a hard time for a bit while you adapt to their decision but you WILL adapt. Ask them to be patient with your fears and need of reassurance. Tell them how incredibly proud you are of them and that you will support their Army career.

I feel very strongly that, as a mother, this is no time to hold on to resentment and pain. It’s a chance that comes very seldomly – a chance to build a whole new relationship with your adult child that can carry you forward in your life and theirs. And it’s a chance to help them with one of the few things you can when they leave home – support, understanding and a parent’s bottomless love.

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