After a wonderful 3 days with my son awhile ago, I said goodbye again. Spending the evening with highly decorated service members telling me how much they appreciated my son’s work was one of the proudest moments of my life. Writing about zenning up as a military parent hasn’t been as therapeutic as it once was. I’ve been frozen at the keyboard, erasing everything that I write because even basic Information is too sensitive to share, even when our loved ones leave and come back in is too sensitive to discuss on the blog. So I’m finding my comfort in providing counseling services to our military through my practice as a therapist. I feel like I’m actually doing something, something honest and true to help these families. I miss my son. Last message from him was about the lousy weather. So of course I’ve spent the last few days feeling that lousy weather right along with him. I always take on the feelings of my kids. When my daughter gets sick, I feel her symptoms even though I’m not sick. When my son is tired, the fatigue I feel is overwhelming. He never states that he’s tired, but I can hear it in his voice. I worry. This time more than others. Praying more than usual. Through my work with the military I’ve learned so much. Too much. So now, I’m left to worry from a different perspective. Zenning up has taken on a whole new meaning this year. My son was able to see my granddaughters for a quick minute before he left. They adore him, just look at these faces. He has to come home safe for them. He just has to. Peace, love and little donuts.
I can’t help but get choked up every time I hear our national anthem played before a football game. The addition of a flyover gives me goosebumps to boot. Our family has had the advantage of extra time with our airman this summer and fall. I know it is coming to an end too soon but am grateful that he’s had a moment to catch his breath and lead a somewhat normal life.
Leading a somewhat normal life, included totaling his beloved Subaru on his way home from the base, only 2 miles away. He was only slightly injured but decided not to call me until he had been released from the hospital. How ironic is it that he does two tours in the middle east in 1 year and ends up getting hurt on a short commute home because another driver decided they needed that extra 20 seconds to pull out in front of him.
As we begin our countdown, my restful summer slumber is beginning to be interrupted by the worry of sending him back to a place even more corrupt than when he left. With news of an increase in shootings by middle east soldiers on our troops, I wonder how this deployment will feel differently than the others. Is he worried? If he was he certainly wouldn’t share it. I’ll wrap my arms around my boy in early on this winter and see him off again, this time with more stripes on his arm and a brand new commitment to serve another 4 years. I wonder what the next four years will be like for the military after this election plays out.
Ironically I’ll be in D.C. on election day. I have no idea how I feel about the candidates. I’m numbed by the ads, felt little satisfaction about supporting either candidate after the debates.
Election day for me will be spent in Arlington paying tribute to the fallen. I can’t avoid Arlington any longer. This is the year that I don’t flake out on the men and women who made it possible for me to cast my vote. A vote that was particularly difficult this time around.
Peace, love and little donuts….next report will be from Arlington.
A flurry of text messages leaves me numb this evening as I realize that the cycle of deployment is beginning again for us. Not being at liberty to discuss exits and entries and job duties leaves me pretty much alone in the cycle. I can only say that the bliss of summer safety for this family is abruptly coming to a close sooner than my heart and I were ready.
He returns there a higher rank than when he left. More responsibility. He’s making plans for a vacation upon his return. I find peace in his planning. I feel safer when there’s someone in his life to share his plans. I take more time to pack her care package for shipment than his because the energy is so different. Moisturizer, granola (takes her longer to get her care packages) no beef jerkey, a meditation, a women’s magazine. A different energy.
I am grateful for the gifts of my new life since his last deployment. Some are results of my having created them. Most have gracefully fallen into my world because I was more open to receiving them. I have hope that my energy has shifted into an acceptance of the continuing deployment cycle in part due to the loving work environment that my family and I have created. More support, less toxicity = a level of acceptance for his choice to remain in his current position with the military. Another round of meditations, more yoga, baking bread from scratch, service to my local community and good old fashioned hard work. This is my recipe for this military mom withstanding another round of middle east deploymentland.
Peace, love and little donuts,
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.
Hear me please. With so many deaths in Afghanistan this July, I have little to say today. But what is here is important. I’m in a spiritual place this week, this seems like a fitting place to read these names out loud. Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 16,858 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. Naming them each week would simply be impossible. I can’t even mention the emotional wounds that we may never know exist. Average age of the dead listed below…………………..23. Twenty three years old. Their lives had barely begun. Two were national guardsman. Can anyone hear me?
Today was Friday the 13th and my son flew on a plane with a silly name with his best friend and wing man. I’m glad that this war hasn’t taken away his sense of humor and irony. In fact, I think his sense of humor just has more material thanks to his experiences. He gets his sick sense of humor from his mother. We actually call this sushi something else, but if I shared that with you it could mean a national security breach. That was a joke, please don’t send the men in the government Dodge to visit me, I don’t know anything about national security.
Admit it, the title made you come to the blog. I will shamelessly call attention to the sacrifices of the military any way I can. Thanks for clicking.
Ingredients: Cooked packaged brown rice from Trader Joes + Trader Joe’s Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snacks + Trader Joes Curry Panang Tuna Packs + 1 package of fast food mayo swirled together w/ Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. Combine. Enjoy.
My son gets credit for figuring this out during his last deployment, but momma gets the credit for sending the boxes each week that inspired him. I take credit for everything he’s ever done right because that’s what proud mother’s do. The truth is, he became the man he is IN SPITE of all the mistakes I made in raising him as a single mom. Mothers never think we do much right when we don’t stay married to our children’s fathers, even if the kids turn out okay or in my case, better than just okay.
This recipe will be included in the food section of my new e-book I hope to publish in 2013 that I hope to share with other military moms and dads. Share this post with those you love who are far away and missing the chow line, but give proper credit of the recipe to Chef Alex!
Acknowledge the mother or father of a Veteran today and send somebody a box of Middle East Sushi with directions on how to assemble.
Peace, love and little donuts,
Yesterday in Kandahar, 14 Afghan civilians lost their lives to roadside bombs. Six Americans, someone else’s kids, lost their lives in a separate incident. They lost their lives while I spent the morning enjoying the company of friends new and old in celebration of the official opening of my office. While I drank lemonade and ate croissants and enjoyed hugs and laughter, 6 other mothers were visited by a government chaplain.
Sadness quickly overshadowed the evening and I knew that it was time to start blogging again. I’ve spent the last 3 weeks taking a break from militaryzenmom. I suppose I was in denial of the war’s ongoing carnage, because my child is enjoying hot showers again in his home in the states. In a few short weeks he’ll head back again, but for now, I am enjoying the luxury of knowing he is safe from rockets, road side bombs and soldiers who are supposed to be “on our side” shooting to kill.
When I put my hands on my son this time, his shoulders felt broader and his spirit felt heavy. When I hold him I don’t want to let him go. I want to hold onto these moments as they are precious. He is precious. He talked of physical pain, something he rarely complains about. I know it is present in his body from injuries, from flying too many hours from the stress that our body holds inside when we experience traumatic events. I want to take him to a specialist to get him checked out because his medical care is by my standards, substandard. I want to do so many things to care for him.
I hold his latest medal in my hands and read the letter carefully as it artfully describes what he did to be granted something so beautiful. I want to keep it. I want to bring it home, to put it under my pillow, to show it to the man at the bank that helps me with my accounts and ALWAYS thanks me for my son’s service, every time. I want to take it to the high school that he attended and show it to his guidance counselor that never supported his decision to join the military so that she can grasp the magnitude of what these kids are doing over there.
In spite of the pride I feel when holding the medal, I fight the urge to ask him to leave the work that he loves. The work that in my opinion, made him a better man. We are in that odd time of making the big decision. Stay or go. In a few short months he will sign on the dotted line officially………………. to stay or go. I give him room to make the choice that is right for him, in this time and space that is his life, but my heart says “go, please go”. Find a wife, go back to school, re-enter the civilian world, I’ll help you transition back, just GO”. I want to scream out, “you’ve done your part, you’ve made us proud, now just GO”. My words stay in my head; I stay silent and pray the choice he makes will be the right choice for him. I write every reporter I see on Linked In and beg them to talk to me about this work that other people’s children are doing, to hear me, to hear the other mothers and fathers who need to say out loud how proud they are of their kids. I ZEN UP and start talking loud. I ZEN UP and write Michelle Obama AND Jill Biden and ask them to read my blog.
May the Americans who died this week be blessed for their ultimate sacrifice, and their families find the memory of them to be a blessing.
Do something to help a Vet today.