Thursday, July 27, 2006
Brian and his dad took off for Fort Benning, GA yesterday morning. A few friends showed up to see him off. Or rather, they were STILL here, after schlepping in sometime around 4:00 in the morning to help Brian finish up laundry. They were all a *bit* on hungover when the alarm went off at 7:30.
Brian's time at home was good. We had a big cookout with tons of food, friends, and family. He spent most of his time in friend's apartments, but made time for pizza on Saturday night, and some more grill time on another evening. Everyone wanted a piece of him. No one got to see enough of him.
And Thursday morning, when I was sniffling and walking back in the house with his friends, I teased them "ohhh, why didn't you talk him out of the army?" They both answered me seriously. "Because he needed this. He wasn't doing anything," Chris said. And John, "If I had thought it was a bad thing, I would have stopped him."
Of course. They are right, and once I again, I am comforted by these "kids." Because they also reinforced to my then-wandering son what he did not want to hear from me. And they validate that I wasn't a Bitch-Mom Gone Batshit. Not all the time, anyway.
As a parent, I like to think that I never put my kid on auto-pilot, even when he'd have preferred it. I tried to tune in and communicate, and when necessary, fight.
And I second-guess myself, looking back. There are things I wish I had done differently. When he was 14, he spent the night with friends, took a stroll around the block at midnight and got arrested for curfew violation. ARRESTED! Courtrooms and sentencing! He had to wash squad cars every Saturday for 8 weeks, and return to the judge with an essay in hand: "The Trouble You Can Get Into Late At Night."
Lord, it sounds hilarious now. You know his Dad's a cop. I didn't want to call him at 1 a.m. to tell him our son had been delivered to my home in a squad car. Unfortunately, he got the news in briefing the next morning, before I could get to him. Boy, did that make him grumpy.
Still I worry: God, we were so upset! Were we too harsh, then, or at any of the scrapes he got into? Did I ever judge him and scold him and make him feel worthless for stupid minor offenses? God. I hope not, because I never thought he was.
My kid was a bit lost before he took left for the army. His dad declared tough love. I coddled and encouraged him. We came up with a deal we could live with, then. A deal with a deadline. It's been a fun ride, kiddo, but adolescence has left this building. Get a job or get to school. Do what you gotta do, but get to doing something.
He was never a disrespectful kid. He has a sympathetic soul. He aches for the underdog, and bothers to try to help. He is a fun and funny guy. He was, as youth often are, merely paralyzed with indecision. He'd wanted to join the army a few years before, but I discouraged it, as did others.
He has long term goals that require miliatary experience, and he's on his way to try to get there. He has cleared the first hurdle, a damned tough one. The army takes pictures now, of our men going through basic training. I have pictures and videos of him and his, face down in mud. Running from the gas chamber. Throwing grenades. Climbing trees. Building bridges. Sitting in a classroom.
I don't sensationalize his accomplishments. I know he's signed up for serious, potentially dangerous stuff. I worry. Rather, I try NOT to worry. And you all know, I'm proud, proud, proud. It has been several years since I felt this much at peace. With him. With myself. With the world. Having your kid get back on track. Man, it just lifts a world of weight off your shoulders.
There is a definite strength to my son's posture now. He is proud, and strong, and reliable. He forgot to take out the garbage, one day, as promised, and he came back home to do it! He is laughing and talkative and appreciative. He teases me about my blog ("Don't listen to her John, you'll be there for an hour") and taking his pictures (rolling his eyes, and purposefully donning a plastic smile) and he tolerates my touching his fuzzy head.
And today he's in Fort Benning, Georgia.
AND it is time, darlings, for me to let go of what I might have done right or wrong. My lessons have been taught, my examples have been set. My messages were consistent. I think I did more right than wrong. He has always been, and always will be, my friend.
So, I'll let go. A little bit. And I'll move on, and wait with bated breath for news from him.
In the meantime, I'll continue to Mother him. I'll make sure he's drinking enough water, and send him cookies and write mooshy blogs about him.
It's just what I do.
And YOU. Fellow bloggers. Readers. Friends. Family. Acquaintances. Your letters, cards, e-mails, phone numbers, and messages on the street have been buckling. Thanks for coming along for this ride. You will never know how much I love you.