When I joined N4M (just before my son left for boot camp in Dec. 2009) I kept hearing complaints from moms who were told by friends and co-workers "Why so upset, it's just like sending them off to college."
Hmmm, I thought. I couldn't imagine being terribly upset. Yes, I sent my son off to college the year before, and I couldn't see any difference myself, and I told the moms that.
Six months later I got a message from one of the moms who was part of that conversation asking if I still felt the same way.
I had to answer "yes."
He wasn't here. Okay. No problem. He wasn't here in college, either. The only difference was in college I wasn't forced to hand-write letters. I had more communications from Chris in boot camp than I ever got when he was in college. If anything, boot camp was easier because I knew he was being monitored, under control, and not out doing something stupid like skipping class or playing video games all night before an exam. I could relax because he was in good hands.
Do I love him? Of course! Do I miss him? Not really. He calls home, a lot. Again, more than he did when he was in college. And I know he's safer than he was in college. We used to live on a college campus, I know what goes on there. The Navy is a LOT safer, and more conducive to helping a young man mature and grow.
Mostly I'm curious about his adventures, about how the Navy has changed
since I was in 20 years ago. I want to know as much as I can, as much
as OPSEC allows.Soon he will be going to sea. He's headed for Japan, and I'll only see him once a year. That's not bad. My husband sees his parents about once a decade, and its been that way since he was in the Navy.
Chris is coming home for leave next month before he goes to Japan. While I look forward to his visit, I also dread it, because, like all long visits from relatives, it's a change in my routine. It's exhausting having someone in the house who is not part of the routine. We no longer have a bedroom for him, he has to sleep in the living room on the couch, and we've moved since he left us, he has no friends here. So he will be home all the time. But I won't be there much. I work strange, long hours.
Parents complain that their kids come home, then disappear. I wish Chris had friends here, peers he could share his experience with, to show off his uniforms and brag to how awesome he is with a pistol, and be the "toast of the town" while he visits. But there will be no parties, no hanging out. Just laying around at home, reading and probably a lot of sleeping.
It will be a relief when he leaves for Japan. It's not that I want to get rid of him, or don't love him. He's an adult now. I didn't raise him to be a momma's boy, to hang around home forever. If he did, I feel I would have failed at my job as a parent. I raised him to be an independent adult, to go out into the world and find his way. I supported him in his transition from young adulthood while he tried college, passed through boot camp, struggled in A school. Now its time to cut what threads remain on my apron strings. It's up to him now. All I ask for is some basic updates once in a while.
Now I await the chance for his younger brother to fly, too. And soon, I hope.