27 years ago today I gave birth to a warrior. My hero is spending his birthday getting ready for a possible evacuation. We chuckled on the phone today for nearly 2 hours discussing birthday hurricanes, the complications and bliss of a good relationship with the opposite sex, and what constitutes a good vacation. But then the conversation turned serious as we discussed the personal losses that come along with war. We ended our conversation discussing the beauty and simplicity of a minimalist lifestyle. Something that deployment offers. You can’t take much with you, and when you get there, you are sharing a very small space with other people. A hard toilet becomes a very nice thing.
When you move a lot, you get very good at living with less. He and I moved a lot when he was in his teens. We got good at it, but we never really accepted it as part of the journey that would mold us into the human beings that we later became. We found it inconvenient and messy and full of grief and loss every time we endured it.
Easily detaching from our “things” became easier every time we made a move as we downsized our life so that we could afford an out of state college without having to work 3 jobs. Two jobs each felt like quite enough for the both of us. Six years ago, as I was faced with making a decision to accept a travel position that paid extremely well or work for a non-profit, HE made the decision to join the military, which allowed us both an opportunity to exhale from the financial responsibilities of college. It caused us to take another deep breath of another sort. This decision launched him into adulthood at lightening speed and me into a guilt trip of epic proportions. His decision to leave college and go into the military still haunts me. I second guessed every decision I had ever made and wondered that if perhaps I had just settled for an easy life of a married lady who lunches when he was younger, if he would be the man he is right now that I am so proud of. Would he have failed to launch? Would he be working in the financial industry floating from job to job eventually landing on my couch due to the current economy? The answer is probably no. The journey would have been different, but he would still be the leader he is right now, the stage would just be more sane for him. I couldn’t be prouder of him than I am right now, nor more supportive of his decision to carry on in his current role, as dangerous as that it is. He will have many, many more healthy, happy birthdays…………I pray for that each night.
“What we think about, we become”. Earl Nightingale, the strangest secret
Peace love and little donuts and tonight, red velvet cake!
Military zen mom
Mom wrote you a tribute tonight and with the slip of a tired finger it was gone. Will recreate tomorrow.
An unusual siting of an Army soldier in bdu’s today threw me off of my usual forage through the bulk bin aisle at W.F. He was young and healthy and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. It was unusual to see someone in bdu’s at W.F. I am accustomed to standing behind flight suits and bdu’s when I shop in O’Fallon, Illinois, but here it seemed odd and caught me off guard. I wasn’t thinking about the war when I spotted him. I was focused on the groovy feeling I had from a fresh yoga class with a teacher who pushes me beyond my comfort zone and the exhilaration I feel when I’m headed home to bake bread with all my new found grains and flakes and flours.
The middle east was suddenly right in front of me, whether or not he had ever been there. I stopped him on his way out and thanked him for his service. He’s been in for awhile, I can always tell. I can tell because as he stood there proudly he looked me in the eye and stated “it’s an honor to do so ma’am”. Yesterday I was given the great news that my license was being approved to practice again in Illinois. Illinois is home. Standing in Dierbergs in Shiloh amongst the bdu’s and the flight suits is a privilege. It makes me feel safe. St. Louis is very proud of their Veterans and I’m proud to be a St. Louisan because they recognize the importance of supporting our military.
I’ll continue to practice here a couple of days a week because I’ve been blessed to do so. St. Louis has been very good to me. But living and working back home in Southern Illinois will give me the opportunity to serve more military families and it will bring me closer to my daughter and my granddaughters. My daughter once said to me that my constant focus on her bubby’s military service overshadowed everything and everyone else in the family. She’s usually right. With a move in the future to Illinois, everybody wins. Peace, love and little donuts………military zen mom
A heavy heart can call you to action. I believe this. How anyone can read these names of other people’s children, other people’s fathers or mothers and not have a reaction is beyond me. I’ve had two inquiries these last two weeks with regard to how I’m doing. Perhaps it’s because if you know me well, you know I’m strong and I’ve been called to action through a Veteran’s project. A few friends know he’s still in the states at the moment finishing up business, but anyone who knows me well, knows that even when distracted by a call to action, I live with the worry of what could happen to him when he returns. That I feel each and every name as if I knew them all. That every picture I’ve received from him while deployed is a picture with his shoulder holster in clear view. It isn’t for show, it is his reality. Call a military mom or dad this week if you know one. Our hearts break for these families. We are all connected through the service of our loved ones, whether or not our loved one is there this week or not. We need you to acknowledge our worry, our fear, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
With the news of this morning’s latest violence on U.S. troops from middle east police I found myself gaining strength, rather than feeling helpless. Zenning up today meant actively seeking out ways to help rather than whining about my angst as a military mother. My son is proud of me when I just take action and do something. He expects me to grow a pair and do something. He’s watched me begin again many times after heartbreak and disappointment. He knows the news reports have an effect on me. Because I like making my son proud of me and knowing that he’ll worry less about me when I’m taking action, I’ve taken my own advice, which is also about to be permanently imprinted on my left arm: BEGIN AGAIN.
I’ve requested an information table for the GIVE AN HOUR organization at the Veteran’s Festival in Forest Park so that we can get the information about these important services out there. I’ve again offered myself up for temporary assignments on military bases and signed on for more continuing education on deployment psychology. This is the strength and meaning that I need to continue to support my son, his unit, and our military overall. I have to trust that all precautions will be taken to protect our military. Feeling powerless sucks. So get off your touchas and do something today. It’ll matter to somebody’s else’s children who are serving.
This blog stays neutral with regard to politics but the OEF and OIF wars must become part of the dialogue between the Republicans and the Democrats this election. If we want Americans to become outraged about the loss of life and the costs of war so that they begin asking louder questions, then perhaps we should start funding it in a way that people notice. How about another 20% of our paychecks going to fund these wars? Would that make us mad enough to march on Washington and demand America pull out? The average American on the street doesn’t even seem to KNOW that we lost so many lives last week; much less lose any sleep over it. Americans may decide to take notice if the things they love to buy in abundance aren’t so available anymore. Gas lines anyone? How about a 48 hours special every week on the lives being lost? How about a little news coverage on the troops watching the olympics NBC? I didn’t expect much from NBC, but I expected a little something more that what I saw.
During the Olympics I watched a trailer for a television event that will air this evening called “Stars Earn Stripes”. It appears to have a lineup of B and C celebrities who will be showing those who bother to watch the show the daily heroics that go into being active military.
Wouldn’t this show be a lot more entertaining if it were called “Politicians Earn Stripes”? I want to see the candidates and members of congress (those who have a military background are exempt as it wouldn’t be very entertaining) in this event. You want ratings? I would pay to see this on the screen.
So in order to find meaning and strength this week so that I could let go of the extended sarcasm printed above, Zenning up for me this week looked like this. Traded the anger, sarcasm and helplessness I was feeling with an e-mail to Give An Hour™ to see if I could assist them in setting up an info table at the Veteran’s Festival over Labor Day weekend. Pack a box for my son’s friend who just deployed for the umpteenth time. It was all I could do. I was powerless, angry and simply sad.
The names of the dead that have been announced since my last posting are out there. say them out loud please today. Some were senior officers with children, parents, spouses and grandparents left behind. 4 generations will suffer the loss.
We received news this week that our deployment date has been “pushed back”. So we have a little extra “mind rest” while my son takes care of business that needs to completed in order to advance his military career. A career path he puts on hold in order to support his military brothers and sisters where they need him most. Our family loves to watch the olympics. We’ve spent a lot of time the past week text messaging things like: “holla! water polo!!!! yeah!” “Track and Field events, RULE” “How cute is that Gabby?!” As I’ve watched the Olympic athletes perform night after night, after years of sacrificing their personal lives in order to represent our country, I’ve wondered if they think about the military personnel responsible who are making their ability to travel to London safer. Our military personnel are demonstrating the same athletic prowess as an Olympic athlete but they perform on a bizarre stage with no one cheering them on. There are no gold medals for our military athletes. No cheering crowds, no million dollar endorsements for products. Those of us supporting our family members as they perform the unimaginable day after day are left to cheer our loved ones on in e-mails, Facebook time and care packages. I’ve seen little patriotism during the games. Disappointed by that. I expected more from the networks. Some sort of thank you each night would have been nice. A segment or two on a military family. Is that too much to ask? A reminder to the other 99% while they are enjoying the games and what they represent? Note to self: Write another letter.
I regret when I don’t blog. It’s been a rough two weeks. The names of the dead stack up and they weigh heavier than usual on the page. Even heavier on my heart. So with that being said, please read all of them. Don’t stop half way through because it is so very long. Read each one, where they died and how. Their medals will be presented to their loved ones in silence.
The latest identifications reported by the military are listed.