Mother’s Day Helplessness

May 7th, 2009 by InfantryMom

InfantrySon:

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 failed.

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.

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Got an Email from InfantrySon

January 20th, 2009 by InfantryMom

He’s apparently over his cold (finally) but now has an endless sore throat, courtesy of the dryness of the middle east.

Says he’s not been able to do much “infantry stuff” yet and that knowing that might make me happy – and it does … sorta.

His first box is on its way from me and the 2nd one almost filled. Hopefully they’ll get there before too long.

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I finally got an address!

January 1st, 2009 by InfantryMom

YAY – the lovely FRG has sent me the address for InfantrySon’s platoon (now in Iraq) so I can get his box taped up and off to him!!!

I’m happy!

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Christmas with Family & a Call

December 25th, 2008 by InfantryMom

Today was our big family Christmas dinner and during the day each attendee had been given a piece of paper labeled for each of the other attendees on which to write what we loved about them. It was a great idea from InfantryAunt to allow us to share our feelings with each other.

After a great dinner of prime rib, we took turns opening our little boxes from the youngest at the table to the eldest.

Because InfantrySon wasn’t there, I got to read his notes and wanted to share what they said. These are the individual thoughts of family members.

One thing I love about InfantrySon is:

  • That he fights for our freedom.
  • His bravery for fighting for our country in the Army.
  • How brave he is. I don’t think I could ever muster up the courage he has to do the things he’s done.
  • His sacrifice.
  • Determination to succeed under pressure.
  • He’s the bestest brother and he plays video games with me like Car Crash.
  • He honors our family in this war.
  • His unbelievable bravery that I so admire and makes me very proud
  • His sense of humor and laugh.
  • How loyal he is to his friends and buddies.

For now I have custody of InfantrySon’s box. I don’t think it would survive well in the desert so I’m not going to try to mail it to him but I wanted him to read the comments and see that everyone was thinking about him.

While part of the family was out sledding, I got a surprise and very short phone call – from InfantrySon! He’d snuck in a few minutes to let me know the update on orders and to wish me and the family a Merry Christmas. This really made my day and my holiday! He’s still safe and, even though sick with whatever local viruses he’s managed to catch, he seems like he’s doing okay.

Merry Christmas again, InfantrySon. I love you! The phone call was the best present I could get!

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Hugs for the Holidays – I’m having a whiny day….

December 21st, 2008 by InfantryMom

It’s been snowing like mad here in Puget Sound. Our average December snowfall is only about 2 inches but we’re already at 11 inches as of earlier today. It makes it a challenge to get out and do any tasks we have to do and gives me far too much time to think.

Honestly, I’m a bit adrift. InfantrySon is in the Middle East but not at his final station so I don’t have an APO for him. I have his present and a bunch of things for his care package but can’t send them. Instead I just keep looking at the box and trying not to get weepy. I just hope he knows how much I love him and think about him. Face it, I’ve known him all his life and I’m very sure he’s homesick and feeling isolated during these holidays. I certainly miss him a lot.

I love to give presents. It’s just part of my nature to want to express my love with even simple things. I probably love giving presents more than getting them, even. But that’s denied to me and my oldest son is denied that tangible proof of how much I think of him and care about him.

Some of you may be thinking it’s a bit dumb to be whiny because I can’t send a present but I can’t even send a card. His brother can’t send him a school picture so he can see how much he’s grown. He doesn’t have notes he can read and reread when he feels lonely or homesick.

I’m really trying to hang onto the hope that he’s pretty safe for the moment and that should be enough. But I love him and I miss him. I want to be sure he knows how much but I’m not sure he does.

Maybe he’ll get a chance to stop by here and read it for himself. If so…

I love you, InfantrySon.
I miss you, probably more than ever right now.
I think of you every day, maybe every hour, and hope you know how much I love you and how very special you are.
You’re missed and the entire family asks about you all the time. How you are doing, if you’re okay, how you are feeling.
InfantryBrother asks about you all the time and writes notes to you, though I admit you may need help to read them.
I’m incredibly proud of you and what you’ve chosen to do but I worry. I can’t help it, I’m your mother.

It’s Yule and I wish you were here to share the interesting weather but I understand you can’t be. I just hope you know a part of me travels with you, wherever you are.

Love,

InfantryMom

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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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Some early morning news

October 11th, 2008 by InfantryMom

InfantrySon called today and InfantryBrother managed to answer the phone before we could hear it upstairs. So the first we knew was InfantryBrother knocking on the bedroom door and telling us InfantrySon was on the phone and had a computer problem.

That’s right — the reason for the call was to seek tech support! LOL Hey, I’ll take phone calls from him, no matter the reason.

After InfantryStepDad walked him through most of his computer issue, I got a chance to talk to him. They’ve been through a lot of intensive training and he’s now assigned to the M203 Grenade Launcher. This is the grenade launcher mounted to the M16 rifle. You can see it in this photo below the barrel of the M16.

M16 with the M203 grenade launcher

He seems pleased with this assignment and says he’s doing well. He actually has another challenge coin now but I don’t have a picture of it. I think I’ll have to buy him a camera to get one :)

He also said their orders had changed and instead of deploying to Kuwait mid-December, they are going directly to Iraq and probably at the end of October. He gave me more details but I think they’re too specific for this venue.

It will probably take me a day or two to adjust my own mental timeline to this new update – not that it’s set in stone, mind you, things can change quickly.

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Company Coin

October 4th, 2008 by InfantryMom

When InfantrySon graduated from OSUT, he won the BRM award for his Company. This means his shooting score, along with some other factors, beat out every other person in his Company. He was awarded a certificate and a Company Medallion.

I’ll talk about what little I know about the actual roots of these coins/medallions in a later post but remember that I said I was really fascinated by Army heraldry? This Company Medallion is a little mini-history of the Company and I thought you might be interested in seeing it and the explanations of the symbology.

Note that these are thumbnails. If you click on the thumbnail it will open the really BIG photo for you to see more clearly. There’s a huge amount of detail that doesn’t lend to itty bitty pictures. I think side 1 is the “front” as it’s the Regiment’s crest.

This is a BIG “coin” and very heavy.

Side 1

Company Coin Side 1

This side of the medallion has the Regimental crest of the 2d Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment.

The sky blue background of the shield stands for Infantry.

The gold band across it is taken from the arms of Alsace, where the Regiment first saw combat service in 1918.

The ragged tree trunk in the lower left of the shield) represents the Meuse-Argonne campaign in WWI.

The ladder in the upper right of the shield is taken from the crest of the 6th Infantry Regiment whose personnel originally established the 54th Infantry Regiment. It represents the ladders used to scale the walls of Chapultepec in the Mexican War in 1847.

The six-pointed star above the shield is the insignia of the 6th Division.

The chain-mail foot commemorates the march from the Vosges to the Argonne and back to Southern France in WWI.

The banner below the crest displays the Regiment’s motto: I will cast my foot over it.

Around the outside of the coin are the highlights of the Regiment’s service:
- 2-54th Infantry
- Meuse-Argonne
- Alsace 1918
- Rhineland
- Ardiennes-Alsace
- Central Europe

I’m not actually sure what the star and rank markings above the crest are, nor the helm and palm. I’m trying to track that down. If you know, I’d love to hear it! Just leave a comment.

The star may be because the 2nd Battalion is the only remaining Battalion of the 54th Regiment and is the custodian of the Regimental Color. This may just be a wild guess, though :)

Side 2

Company Coin Side 2

This side seems to have a reduced coat of arms. There is still the blue of the infantry as the background. Across the shield is the gold banner of Alsace. The words “Mailed Foot” harkens back to the Mailed Foot crest commemorating the march from the Vosges to the Argonne and back to Southern France in WWI.

The upper right has the ladder from the crest of the 6th Infantry Regiment and the lower left has the tree trunk of the Meuse-Argonne campaign in WWI.

Around the circumference of the coin are the words:
- 2-54th Infantry
- Discipline
- Physical Fitness
- Marksmanship
- First Aid
- Battle Drills

These are obviously training related and I’d guess they came about in 1987 when the 2-54 was transferred to the Army Training and Doctrine command and Ft. Benning, GA.

I’m always interested in additional information, so feel free to pass any on. I love this pieces of history on a piece of metal. I’ll post more later about what I’ve found out about challenge coins, how it was presented and the challenge game.

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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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Communication

September 13th, 2008 by InfantryMom

By this I mean not only the fact that InfantrySon called me last night and we got a chance to talk but that I’ve always tried to teach my children that they can talk to me about anything. Nothing is off limits and I won’t think less of them or ridicule them for anything. I’ll be as honest to them as I expect them to be to me.

Admittedly, this has been hard at times, both when InfantrySon has asked me questions I’d rather not answer and when he’s told me things that were embarassing to him or maybe didn’t show the best judgement. InfantryBrother is only seven so his talks have revolved more around altercations on the playground so far.

I value that honesty beyond belief now. I got an email from InfantrySon that contained this:

I love you mom. I could never stress enough how much your support means to me… And sometimes I know I get quiet, and I confess, I think about the possibility frequently of what might happen if I never make it home. But no matter what may happen in these coming months, no matter where my mission will take me, and no matter where my enemy will engage me… I will always strive to do the right thing, to help out everyone along my path, and I will endeavor to make it back home. Not just for InfantryFiance, not just for InfantryDad, and not just for you… But because this life of our’s is too damned short as it is… And I could never stand the thought that I couldn’t spend more of it with any of you.

I cried, multiple times, but it was good crying because this note really touched me – he was so honest and forthright and SO mature.

Late last night he called me and we got a few minutes to talk and I was honored that he could talk to me about this and the fact he was determined to do his duty and his job, no matter his fears or the possibility of dying while serving his country. I told him it made me cry but it was a good thing.

So today I am grateful that InfantrySon and I can talk, honestly, about our feelings and fears. I can tell him how much I love him and how proud I am of him. And I can support him, at least in this small way, with this blog and my unending faith that he WILL do his best to come home.

Hooooah!

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