In 1992, I gave birth to my first son, Michael, now known as Mike. Mike joined the world, immediately showing his energetic side. He was running around the house on his own two feet before he was one year old; in fact, right around that time he raced into the living room and slipped, fell, and smashed into the wooden trim on the couch, requiring a trip to the ER for stitches. He was too big for a booster seat by the time he was 18 months. He sped through his pre-school years, and then his elementary, middle and high school years, with a sense of fun and energy. He was always up early in the morning and was forever on the go, a huge smile plastered to his face. Before I knew it, Mike had graduated from high school and was ready to attack the world.
Except his forward movement then screeched to a stop. He didn’t want to go to college, or a trade school, opting instead for the Air Force. Then he changed his mind and selected the Army, and then the Marines. But any military branch would require that Mike lose some weight and get in shape, and at the time, he was not interested in expending the work required to get there. So instead, he spent the next three years in a general state of limbo; getting a few jobs that didn’t last, playing lots of video games, having fun instead of taking responsibility for his life, gaining weight, and generally ignoring my pleas to get a job or get an education. Mike tried living with us, then a friend, then his dad, perhaps looking for a place that would let him put off being an adult for a while longer.
But eventually, Mike matured. He began to see his own role in giving his life meaning, and he decided he was going to sign up for the US Army after all. He slowly started an exercise regimen, and as he saw results, he became more serious about it. Mike’s efforts resulted in his losing about 60 pounds, amassing tons of muscle, and gaining self-confidence and determination in the process. Mike applied for the Army, passed the tests, and was sworn in several months ago. This morning, my son left for the Army’s basic training, the first real step of his adult life.
Words cannot begin to express how proud I am of Michael. I am so proud of him for finally realizing what most of us, but not all of us, eventually come to see – that we are the only ones responsible for who we are and what we do. I am proud that he finally picked a direction that is a direction HE wanted to follow. I am proud he put plans in place, and achieved the goals needed to get him where he wanted to be. I am proud that he has joined me in the world of those who take responsibility for their own lives. I am proud that he has decided to spend the next several years in the military, gaining experience and skills that will help him in the rest of his life, wherever that life may take him.
And at the same time as I am proud of my grownup son, I am also still his mom, the one that will be worrying and hoping for him the rest of his life. I’m also the one that will be wondering how he is doing during his three months away. So as my 6’2” muscular and fit twenty one year old adult son goes off to start his life, my final words to him, after “Always be safe” were “Don’t forget to write to your mom, Private.”
PS: All the above was approved for use by the aforementioned Private.
PPS: My last words before he left were actually, “I love you, you will do great” but I didn’t want to change the wording in the blog he already approved!