The Backwards Flag

September 14th, 2008 by InfantryMom

The first time I saw InfantrySon in his ACU’s, I noticed he was wearing a flag patch on his right sleeve but the flag was backwards.

The meaning behind this is that the flag is intended to appear as if the wearer is carrying it as they move forward.

If the flag is to be worn on the

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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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Do they know how much you love them?

September 11th, 2008 by InfantryMom

One thing I’ve already learned in this as-yet-new journey to being an Army Mom is that the risks of never seeing InfantrySon again are not horrible but they are in the forefront of my mind. It’s not that regular, civilian life isn’t without its own risks but somehow they are accepted and aren’t as close to the surface. It’s very easy to take for granted that your loved one will be there and you can pick things back up at any point. We all know that’s not the case, though.

How many people think, when talking on the phone to their child in college, that it could be the last time they ever talk to that person? Probably not many and, I’m sure, too many thoughts along that line could be a real problem. But those loved ones have a chance of dying too. Accidents, crimes, disease, etc. take a toll and even the most calm and quiet life has risk to it.

But I think it’s more obvious, maybe more stressed, when you have a loved one in the Armed Services, that you may never see them again. You may never speak to them again. You really never push it far from your mind. Every reunion, by whatever means, is a joy and celebration. Every parting is sweet, sweet sorrow overlaid with pride and fear.

What does that do? At least in my case it makes me cherish the little moments, like InfantrySon calling me to get a phone number last night. Getting an email can make me smile for hours.

And it makes me sure that, no matter my own stresses or fears, I ALWAYS tell InfantrySon how much I love him. Maybe he’ll get tired of hearing it, but I don’t think I could stand it if something happens and my last words were angry or annoyed. So I always tell him I love him and I’m proud of him.

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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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InfantrySon Called

September 7th, 2008 by InfantryMom

I got a call from InfantrySon at about 5:15 this morning – good thing I’d been getting up about then on weekdays to get to work. I think he said it was about 2 in the afternoon his time.

He’s arrived and is doing well. He’s waiting for barracks and thinks he’ll be assigned to Charlie Company.

He’s get a cell phone that is free for him to receive calls on and has promised to email me his cell # and some rough idea of reasonable times to call him.

He also had some more nerve-wracking news. Originally we thought he’d be deployed to the Sandbox in late January or early February of next year but he’s now heard it may be the beginning of December this year.

It was great to hear his voice, though.

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InfantrySon has been assigned

September 6th, 2008 by InfantryMom

After reaching Germany, InfantrySon has been assigned to:

2nd Battalion
28th Infantry Regiment
172nd Infantry Brigade

I don’t know what company he’s in yet.

These are the “Black Lions” and this is their crest:

Their motto is: VINCIT AMOR PATRIAE (Love of Country Conquers).

I think the Army Heraldry is fascinating and I’ll talk about it more later :)

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How Could I Let Him Enlist?

September 4th, 2008 by InfantryMom

I’ve had this question put to me several times over the last month or so, usually by other mothers who were appalled that my oldest son was going into a war zone of his own accord. Each time I’m asked, I talk about how proud I am and yes, that I’m terrified as well, but that it’s his choice.

I was thinking about this a bit today and finally it sort of gelled in my own mind. All InfantrySon’s life I’ve tried to teach him to be a critical thinker, to examine options and make educated decisions based on those options.

I’ve taught him to be honorable. To know that HE has value and worth and to see the value and worth not just in other individuals but in a cause, in an almost intangible desire to do the RIGHT thing.

I’ve taught him to put aside the natural desire of selfishness and try to empathize with others, especially those with less than he has.

I’ve taught him that his word MEANS something. That breaking your word lessens its worth and it took constant care to continue to make his word something of value, something to count on.

I’ve taught him that the only thing in this world he can control is his own actions and honor.

I’ve taught him to go to bat for those that need help.

I’ve taught him to respect others and earn their respect in return. Respect is not given, it can only be earned.

I’ve taught him that he can do ANYTHING he wants to do, if he wants it badly enough.

I’ve done my best to teach him to be a good man.

Now he is a man, fighting for a cause he fully believes in. He’s putting himself in harm’s way to protect others that will never know him. He’s made it through OSUT in the honor platoon and won a unit medallion when every Drill Sergeant bet he’d never make it. He earned their respect, he earned his step-father’s respect. He never considered quitting or giving up, he’d given his word to the United States and he was determined to keep it.

He’s one hell of a good man.

So maybe the answer to this constant question has a very simple answer….

How could I have stopped him from being who I’d always tried to teach him to be?

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He’s Off to Germany Today

September 3rd, 2008 by InfantryMom

InfantrySon called my at work yesterday to catch up before he ships off to Germany – Today.

All in all we had a good talk and he seems to have really enjoyed his time off and the two weeks of hometown recruiting. He says he’s been still losing weight and working on his upper body strength but can feel himself starting to slack so he’s glad to be going to his unit where they’ll push him to keep in shape.

His laptop is doing well for him and he asked if I had a beta key for the new World of Warcraft expansion. I don’t, lol. Poor guy was very disappointed.

Some reminders to let me know his official unit and his APO address as soon as he gets them and that I want to join the Family Readiness Group as soon as I can so I can get updates. I’m betting I’ll have to nag in a week to remind him but that’s okay :)

The most amazing this was InfantrySon’s announcement that he’d gotten engaged. InfantryFiancee is only 17 and he’s known her for about 2 years, but mostly remotely. I won’t pretend I have misgivings and am worried about him being hurt, but I constantly remind myself he’s an adult. I was glad to hear that they plan on living together first, after he comes back from his first deployment in about 15 months. You learn a lot about someone when you actually live with them day in and day out. Plus it takes a very strong woman to be an Army wife.

I’ll cross my fingers it all works out for the best but I did tell him that he needs to make sure she has our contact info and we get hers, just in case. It would be bad if something happened and we couldn’t let her know or vice versa.

He has said his plans are to take some leave after his first deployment and pick her up then drive to his dad’s then fly to my home to introduce her. That will be good :)

Waiting now for more information.

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Introducing Myself

September 1st, 2008 by InfantryMom

I’m a 40-something year old mother of two who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband, youngest son (InfantryBrother is seven at the moment), and a variety of pets. I’m actually a software engineer and an author by trade and my husband is another software engineer. So we’re a family of geeks :)

InfantrySon is in his early twenties and is my son by my first husband. He’s not living with me as he’s now an Infantryman in the US Army and lived with his father for several years before that.

InfantrySon’s father is an ex-marine and I have several family members that were in the Armed Forces, so I’ve never been anti-military. InfantrySon’s been interested in the military his whole life. He was in MC JROTC in high school for several years and really liked it.

But InfantrySon has ADD and has, at times, had a difficult time focusing and self-motivating to do things required of him that he either didn’t want to do or that bored him completely. He decided he wanted to quit high school because he was so miserable and I told him he had to take and pass the GED before I’d let him do that and he’d then need to get a job or take community college – he couldn’t just lay on the couch and play video games. He took the GED and passed with flying colors – I was hugely proud of him but not surprised – he’s very intelligent.

After he passed, he really drifted for a while. College didn’t do much for him and working retail wasn’t that much fun either. Finally he called and told me he’d joined the Army. My only surprise was that he’d decided Army and not Marines but I’ve always told him that I’ll be scared and worried if he joined but if he made it through boot camp, I’d move heaven and earth to be there and cheer for him.

That phone call was the day it started to become real.

I started this blog as an outlet for my nervousness and fears, place to be able to talk about my own journey as an Army Mom and a place to show support for our troops.

Welcome to the world of one Infantry Mom.

Infantry Leads the Way!

HOOAH!

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