Reconciling

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by nurseypoo, May 2, 2007.

  1. nurseypoo

    nurseypoo Parent

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    I am more proud of my son than I can say, and I respect his decision to follow his father and grandfather into military service. However, when I see the faces of the parents and families of fallen soldiers/sailors/marines/airmen, I wonder if I will be one of them.

    I had these feelings, but not to this extent, when I had to send my husband off to war. Yes, I cried, missed him, prayed for him, supported him, but it was different. I knew defense of our nation and its allies was his job when I married him. My question is: How do I reconcile my son going into harm's way?

    I feel differently about him going, than my husband. What have other parents done? My mom had both her husband AND only son deployed to Viet Nam, and as she passed away two years ago, I cannot ask her. Bottom line is, I'm afraid he'll be killed and I so don't want to face that.

    I watched that music video and those parents! How broken they are. How can they bear so much grief?

    I am truly not a wimp (I work in surgery, after all), but, any suggestion on how to get a handle on this?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2007
  2. jamzmom

    jamzmom Founding Member

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    Virtual hugs…. Sounds like you’re having one of “those” kind of days. They will come & go a lot through all of this. I think most folks, myself included, find that when they drop their kids off at academies, they feel a stronger pang of fear as they are driving away than those who have kids going to civvy colleges. Could just be me but I sure didn’t have the feeling when I’d dropped older son at USC (the real one in Carolina. GO COCKS!). I’d say it’s a Mom thing but I don’t believe that to be true after I watched my brother-in-law (the original hard a$$) bawl like a baby when he’d dropped his daughter in Chicago at a school of pharmacy. But you know, I worry the same about the older son getting into a car wreck or worse. Any time we see videos like the one posted where parents are grieving, its beyond painful to think of it being you. You think you know parenting by the time they are 16. Apparently that’s not the case. I truly don’t think there is advice on this matter of how to handle our fears but please know you’ve got earthly internet friends to listen, who understand. Trust in your kid too that he’s going to benefit from the best education & life experience to live to be an old old man. And be sure to ask for girl grandbabies. OMG but they are sweet. SMILE! Good things are coming in life.
     
  3. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    I have thought about this same thing a lot. I don't know that I will ever totally reconcile myself to the possibility of losing my son. Can a mother (or father) ever truly reconcile themselves to this?

    I do find comfort in the fact that he will be doing something that he feels strongly about and has wanted for a long time. Some people have talked about the desire to serve as a calling not unlike a religious calling. I have to agree, that for some, this is the case. Since middle school my son has not expressed a desire to be anything else other than an Army officer. I would rather have him follow his dream even if that opens the possibility his life will be cut short, than to do something else he doesn't feel passionate about and be unhappy in his life. There are no guarantees of a long life no matter what path you chose, so I say live every day like it is your last!

    With that said, if either of sons die before me I will be a complete mess for awhile. :frown: But I know that I would survive because they would want me to go on.

    I don't know if any of this has helped, but maybe it helps to know you aren't the only one that thinks about this stuff.
     
  4. utahmom

    utahmom New Member

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    Hi nursey! Of course you are not a wimp! All of us are kindred spirits when it comes to our babies. A dear friend of mine sent me this when my son was first deployed to Iraq in 2001 during the "shock and awe" stage. It really put things in perspective. She had heard it on a radio program and I'm sorry I can't give credit where it is due. If anyone knows who the author is, please do share.

    HEARTBROKEN vs. HEARTSICK

    There is a difference between being heartbroken and heartsick.

    I would be heartbroken if my beautiful, wonderful son died young and far away in a foreign war. But I would be heartsick if he lived a life lacking integrity, compassion and purpose, with nothing to value worth dying for.

    I would be heartbroken wondering what my son might have been, what his children would have looked like and what he would have contributed to the world over the years. But I would be heartsick watching him live a long life, wrapped up in himself, pursuing only his comfort and passions, contributing nothing and raising children who followed in his footsteps.

    I would be heartbroken thinking of the empty years without his company until we met again in Heaven. However, I would be comforted knowing he led a life of sacrifice for others, strong moral purpose and commitment. I would be blessed with the knowledge that pure in heart and head held high, he would meet his God. I would be thankful that I could meet my son again someday with joy, knowing I fulfilled my sacred role as his mother and raised him to reach his potential while in his earth life.

    But I would be heartsick to know someday he would have to meet a God of great goodness and unselfishness and have to explain his wasted, self-absorbed life. And I would be heartsick knowing that when I met him again in Heaven the first words out of my mouth would probably be "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I let you think only of yourself. I'm sorry I didn't teach you lasting values and the principle of sacrifice. I'm sorry I let you down as your mother. I'm sorry."

    I don't have much choice about being heartbroken, but there would be comfort in knowing my heart was broken so he could reach his highest potential. If I didn't give him permission to do that, I would be heartsick.


    So there you have it nursey. I'm sure some may find fault with this way of thinking, but I am betting YOU will relate, and that is why I am sharing it (along with a BIG hug).
    And I hope it's okay for an NROTC mom to hang out with the SA parents:smile:
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2007
  5. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    WELL SAID! Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

    Absolutely! :thumb:
     
  6. nurseypoo

    nurseypoo Parent

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    UTAHMOM-

    You are the best! Thank you for posting that. I printed it out and put it on my locker at work. It'll help remind me.

    Hugs,

    Nurseypoo :stretcher:
     
  7. jamzmom

    jamzmom Founding Member

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    Utahmom, excellent, excellent post. With Moms like you joining forces with Moms like us, we're all going to be better for it. Thanks for sharing such personal thoughts. It helps in many ways.
     
  8. 2011's Mom

    2011's Mom Parent

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    WOW - Beautiful Post

    I, too, have thought about the potential ramifications for my D's choice. I suspect we all have. I am also asked by others on a fairly regular basis how I feel about my D's choice. I have never had a response beyond the generic 'of course I am proud and support her choices'.

    Utah - you have given words to the feelings I could not figure out how to express. Now I can respond in a heartfelt way that is so much more than platitudes. Thank you - that really does put to words some very deep principals.
     
  9. Cougar_62

    Cougar_62 Member

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    Hope all you Moms don't mind a Dad jumping in here. Thanks Utah mom for a great message for all of us.

    When I was much younger, about the age my daughter is now, I thought I wanted to be the father of about 4 boys. Girls? Didn't know the first thing about raising them. Didn't want one, wouldn't know what to do with one.

    Then of course, my beautiful little bundle of joy came. She has an older brother and a younger brother, but she's my heart. Just about every day I wonder how I could have lived a full life without my girl.

    And, unfortunately for my wife, she really is "Daddy's girl." She plays sports (don't get me started about those Taekwondo Roundhouse kicks to the head), likes ships and airplanes, drives too fast and wants to be a Naval officer and fly off Aircraft Carriers.

    I don't know how I would react if anything happened to my little girl, or to one of my boys. I pray that I never have to know.

    My daughter and I took a trip, Spring Break before last, with the Civil Air Patrol to Washington DC. The Air and Space Museum Annex at Dulles has a display case with the flight suit, log book and misc. possesions of Kara Hultgreen. Kara was the first fully combat qualified woman aviator from the USN to be killed. It was heartrending to look at this small grouping of objects, having read Kara's mothers book, and knowing the sacrifice she made.

    I worry about this too. I don't have anything really profound to say, but thanks for letting me share in the 'Moms group."
     
  10. utahmom

    utahmom New Member

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    Cougar_62
    Not mom's group! I've read your posts and and you say good stuff! Keep talking - we all need each other and must stick together :thumb:
    I'm so pleased I could share something you all found helpful and could relate to.

    And nursey, of course I meant 2003 :confused: DUH! but you understand the hazards of trying to think clearly after three 12 hour graves!
     
  11. kpmom2011

    kpmom2011 Member

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    You have captured what my heart feels so perfectly. My younger son will be attending USMMA this summer (Class of 2011) and within the same month my older son will be deploying to Iraq as a Corpman with the Marines 1/8. If I may have your permission I would like to send your well written sentiment to my boy before he leaves for Iraq.:smile:

     
  12. utahmom

    utahmom New Member

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    kpmom- Please send to your boys and share with anyone who would appreciate it. It was sent to me by a dear friend during my son's deployment and I'm sorry I don't know the original author. I'm betting she was a mom with feelings just like ours who happens to have a gift of putting the most heartfelt of words on to paper. May God be with your boys. Hugs, utahmom
     
  13. nurseypoo

    nurseypoo Parent

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    You are a parent of warriors and future warriors. We all are. NROTC, USNA, OCS/OTS; they all have the same job. Educating the ones who will go on and defend our country.

    It's more than okay. I, for one, was wondering when you'd come over here. Plus, since you have more experience, I would be thrilled if you imparted your wisdom. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2007
  14. OldProp

    OldProp New Member

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    I am terrified.

    His mom works with VA hospitals and sees the results of the war. She even snapped at me, asking if I was pleased that I was sending our son into this environment and was I satisfied in what I had done. She is thrilled and proud of him but already hates USMA, I think.

    This is his choice but I did all I possibly could to help him gain his admission to USMA.

    I have never felt such pride in my life and I am so happy for him for how excited he was that he made it. It is the world to him.

    But I am seriously secretly torn and terrified that I have helped in an awful mistake. It almost breaks me. I dont know what I will do if the war is still ongoing when he graduates, for I know all the qualities that made his admission occur would likely insist he serve his country in the most meandingful and dangerous way. He is a very noble man. I am truly scared.

    His mother would never forgive me.

    We have no military background or personal family history to draw upon.

    But we truly love our country and he was raised with that central thought. His mother actually became a US citizen recently.

    USMA was completely his own idea and he set out on the quest from Grade 10. I really didnt think he would succeed at first. I will never sell him short ever again as his dedication and application to a goal was amazing. He is my hero now and has turned into being an example for me on how to be a man, rather than me being his example.

    News and debates about Iraq and politics now become very very important to me, if not vital.

    I do not know if I could survive if anything happened to him seeing the role I played in all this. I also know he would be profoundly embarrassed that I would ever state such things.
     
  15. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    We all are - more somedays than others.

    You could survive - you would have to. Yep, I suspect all of our kids would be embarrassed. As parents we give our children the gift of growing up. We guide them into the world where they grow up, make friends and make their own way. The rest is up to them. I cannot and don't want to imagine the worst - but I also do not want my daughter to tell me when I am old that she always wanted to be in the Army and didn't because of me. I can't deny her the opportunity to live her dream because of my fear.
    My daughter started on her West Point/Army quest at the age of 13. We visted West Point and she was in complete awe. We could not get her to leave - this was summer of 2001.
    For a while I just thought she wanted to roll in the mud and shoot guns - it is "fun" you know. I wondered a lot in the past year if she really "got" it. she told me this one night while making dinner last fall. Her English class was doing their college essays - they all had a chance to talk about what they would be doing in 5 years. I asked her what she said and she just said "I told them I would be in Iraq" - very nonchalantly. I asked her if anyone said anything about that and she said the class got dead silent. So I went upstairs and had a little cry.
    MY dad flew in Vietnam for a one year tour when I was 10. I do remember the effect that living day to day had on us (5 kids), my mother and my grandmother. I never wanted to relive that with one of my own children. We don't always get what we want.
     
  16. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    Then stop worrying about it. :smile:
     
  17. nosmileysforme

    nosmileysforme Member

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    "I am terrified."

    Fortunately you will become somewhat used to it, and you'll hope that over the next four or five years the world situation, or at least our role in it, will improve. But either way you'll gain a confidence in the ability of your son and his fellow soldiers to watch out for themselves and each other.

    "His mom works with VA hospitals and sees the results of the war. She even snapped at me, asking if I was pleased that I was sending our son into this environment and was I satisfied in what I had done. She is thrilled and proud of him but already hates USMA, I think."

    She will also get used to these feelings and begin to put them into a clearer perspective. Nobody wants to see their children risk their lives, but nor do we want to see our children live mundane or purposeless lives. Like all good parents we want our children to achieve everything they are capable of; those who attend the academies are among the most capable anywhere and will achieve beyond the vast majority of their piers. But ultimately all of this is largely out of our hands and in the hands of our children; they are destined with our without our help to become adults. Some become better adults than others.

    "This is his choice but I did all I possibly could to help him gain his admission to USMA."

    You did the right thing no matter what the outcome; it's your job as his father. For some young men and women West Point is a dream that nothing can prevent. Ask yourself how you would feel if you thwarted your child's efforts to reach for something few are capable of and fewer have to courage to reach for. Now ask yourself how you would explain to your child that you didn't do everything in your power to help him achieve his dream.

    "I have never felt such pride in my life and I am so happy for him for how excited he was that he made it. It is the world to him."

    Then enjoy and share this experience with your son. Tell him how proud you are every chance you have. Support him in every way you are capable.

    "But I am seriously secretly torn and terrified that I have helped in an awful mistake. It almost breaks me. I dont know what I will do if the war is still ongoing when he graduates, for I know all the qualities that made his admission occur would likely insist he serve his country in the most meandingful and dangerous way. He is a very noble man. I am truly scared."

    Your son will be in very good company and within a short few months will fully understand the risks he will be taking; many of his fellow cadets will be competing with him for those coveted combat leadership roles. He will be taught by active service members who are veterans of the current and past conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will decide whether he wants to say and serve; before long you will have little voice in the matter other than to support his decisions whatever they may be.

    "His mother would never forgive me. We have no military background or personal family history to draw upon. But we truly love our country and he was raised with that central thought. His mother actually became a US citizen recently."

    Then you should help your wife to understand the history and meaning of West Point and its graduates to her new home. The better she understands the role West Point has played in both our nation and the world the better she will understand and appreciate the choices your son has made.


    "News and debates about Iraq and politics now become very very important to me, if not vital."

    Certainly it's of more than passing interest to those of us who have a family stake in the outcome; we all take this and every potential conflict very seriously.

    "I do not know if I could survive if anything happened to him seeing the role I played in all this. I also know he would be profoundly embarrassed that I would ever state such things."

    You will survive and before long he will understand your feelings without embarrassment. Best of luck to you and your family.
     
  18. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    ^^^^^^^^^ Very wise words of wisdom -
    I think most of us are proud and yet fearful at the same time. But raising teenagers to be young adults is a fearful time anyway - there are many perils along the way. So be proud of all these kids who choose to serve their country. If you know of any parents of kids who are enlisting and will be headed overseas - give these parents a big hug. At least our kids have a few years yet.
    Don't allow your fear to get in the way of enjoying the moment.
     
  19. Antoinette

    Antoinette Founding Member

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    I send all on this thread a big thank you :thumb:for sharing and also for encouraging us as we go into this new (and scary) phase of being parents! :eek:
     
  20. USNA69

    USNA69 Banned

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    OldProp, I think your questions themselves indicate that you have a fair grasp of the situation. Take zap's remarks one step further and ensure that he is there, not only because it is what he wants, but there for the right reason, to defend his country. And ignore the comment about the terror going away. It doesn't. When someone is wrapped within the warm confines of a cadet barracks with several years to graduation, it may diminish, but it will most definitely return.

    Earn his trust. Support him. Listen and don't judge. Be a pillar of strength for him (and his mother). Someone mentioned recently that mine shouldn't be telling me "all this stuff." Contrarily, I am happy that he feels free to share everything with me, good and bad, scary or not. When they are scared, they need someone to turn to.

    Compartmentalization, that attribute which allows a young JO aviator to have a knock down drag out fight with his wife, culminating with her storming out of the house with nothing resolved, and him then launching on a push-the-envelope flight, completely forgetting about the fight, works well for parents also.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2007

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