Part 2 – a National Guard Mom

November 9, 2008 · Filed Under Military Parents, National Guard Parents, Parents News · 1 Comment 

Now that the election fever is over – let’s get back to the business of Parents Zone – stories of Parents of Serving Military. My friend and support during the last deployment sent me Part 2.

Ok where was I…

He had joined shortly after 9/11 and most of his friends had done at least one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan but we thought he had been spared while he was “training”, we were so wrong. His group was up and he was going for ? months to the “litter box” as we came to call it, Iraq as others call it – either way our son, my baby, was headed into the most dangerous area of the world and right into the middle of the war.

My heart stopped, my knees went weak, my stomach turned, I could not control the shaking and I fought to keep from falling completely apart. I could not let him or his family see the devastation I was feeling, I held it in I could not let my baby, his wife or their baby down, but what could I do? I had no idea how things worked, who or where to turn to when I had a question. How could we send him off to who knows where for an extended time and not have a way to know what is going on.

My daughter-in-law had just signed up for a very intense medical program that was going to last at least two years; my grandson was just barely one year old. She would be alone trying to raise a baby, go to school, and hold her very young family together without him here. So again we had the conversation with him:

“Oh no your are not”
“Oh yes I am”
“Oh no, you are not”
“Oh YES I am”
“You are not! You tell them you are grounded and I will give you a note telling them you made a mistake and your Mother says you can’t deploy”! Well you know how that ended, again.

Both of our sons were grown and other than some ongoing health issues Nick’s older brother has his Dad and I were on our own. After Nick and his family had left us with the devastating news and I had gotten over the tears and denial I stopped and took a step back. I thought about the way we had raised all the children in our home. What had we tried to show them and teach them about taking care of themselves and each other? What would I do if it were one of them …oh wait a minute it was them as well. Of the group that signed together all were heading out in the next few months. Well that was that, I had to step up and be the Mom.

I got busy, we made arrangements to move into a bigger house and move our daughter-in-law and grandson in with us. This would give our son a few weeks with them without any worries before he left. Also we were giving him the peace of mind knowing that she and the baby would not want or need for anything while he was away. Oh so very, very far away.

Now I have to stop for a moment and tell you all (most will understand right away) this was the most horrible time in my life, and to relive it is opening wounds I thought were long closed, but my hope is that others will learn and perhaps find comfort in my words and recounting.

NANA

A friend – a Mom of a National Guard soldier

October 31, 2008 · Filed Under LAW, Military Parents, National Guard Parents, Parents News · 2 Comments 

This is from a very good friend. We held each other up during the longest 22 months of our lives. My husband was deployed in the same unit as her son… and we spent alot of time talking, crying, laughing and plotting. I miss you!
~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, here I sit in front of the lap top staring at the blank page in front of me. I want to help a good friend who has been my crutch through the most difficult time of my life. She has given me an assignment and a deadline (which I have missed over and over again). But yet I just don’t know where to start so I can share the most heartbreaking yet proudest time of my life. So please forgive the spelling and grammar errors and please don’t judge me if I jump around a bit. I will try and take my experience and share it so you will know you are never alone in this war called parenthood or in the parenthood of war.

I will never forget the day he was born, the day he took his first breath I started holding mine. He was hyper-active, never needed more than 2 hours sleep, talked none stop from the time he opened his eyes until he closed them at night. Teachers begged me to medicate him because they just didn’t know what to do with him. I didn’t, we home schooled and he turned out to be a wonderful teenager (well as wonderful as they can be while doing everything in their power to drive their parents crazy). He did all those boy things, dated and broke up with girls, learned to drive and crash a car, missed curfew now and then but he was growing up and we were proud of the man we could see him becoming. He knew that we could not help much if he wanted to go to college so we had always told him he had to participate in finding a way to pay for what ever education he wanted to pursue after high school.

He worked hard got good grades, was in debate and choir, acted in community theater and worked part time earn money for those things boys just have to have. Had every fade hair do and out fit and dreams of what his future would be. Most of all he wanted to become a “player” in the law enforcement or legal field. His name was Nick but his alter ego was always Jack Bauer. Over the years his friends and there were many, came and went like they lived at our home as well. I watched them play football in the yard, watch scary movies until dawn, laugh until they puked and play everyday. They ate dinner at my table and cried on my shoulder and I love them all.
We had always had an open door policy; we have had foster kids all the time and tried to provide a safe loving environment for any child who was in need. Several of these young boys were able to turn their lives around and finish school and look to their futures. We had options for everyone jobs, more school, what ever they wanted to do we tried to help them find ways to make it happen. Which brings into the picture the Army National Guard recruiter (boo hiss boo) sitting at the kitchen table one night. He was talking to one of the foster kids and helping him decide what his best option would be after graduation. He also talked to us and anyone else who happen to be there (about 10 kids all friends from Junior high on).

Nick was there but we thought he would never join something so strict and active, after all it took half the day just to get him out of bed! However we were wrong not only did 7 of the 10 join one of them was Nick! “Oh no your are not” “Oh yes I am” Oh no you are not” Oh yes I am” “You are not you are grounded and I will give you a note telling them you made a mistake and your Mother says you can’t join”! Well as we all know that was not the way it works. He joined and after some time explaining to us how this was really what he wanted to do and it made him proud to do it. What could we say we had taught him to be independent make decisions on his own and be a man, that was exactly what he had done, and I hated myself for it. This was not what my vision of his life was and how dare he do this.

He left a few days after graduation and we had no idea what was about to happen. The recruiters in their way prepare them to get to the swearing in and departure but who helps us deal with all of this who tells us what to expect and who do we turn to for answers to all our questions?……………no one……………crickets……………we were alone………..or at least that was what I thought. So he went to basic, we saw him graduate, go to language school, training schools, and all we got for information was him telling us everything was fine he was ok and not to worry, yea right. Over the next couple of years he met his wife and they had a son, Nick missed his birth (training) and just when we thought the training was finally done and he could settle down and get on to living the (please excuse the phrase, but) Bomb dropped. He had joined shortly after 9/11 and most of his friends had done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan but he had been spared while he was “training”

(more to come later)