Leaving the Nest

I saw all my mistakes.  The things I could have done better.  The bad habits I have that my kids picked up.  I saw all my deficiencies…loud, clear, unmistakeable.  He was gone…I wanted him to come back…so I could fix things…so I could make all those wrong things right.  I wanted to heal the wounds that I had made, encourage him just a little bit more, teach him the things I forgot to show him, make more effort at spending more time with him, just rewind time a little bit.  

It started  sometime during Tyler’s senior year in high school.  It was like there was a magnifying glass and I was seeing my parenting through it.  All of the sudden there were things I saw that I should have taught him, things I should have said.  I should have been more strict with this, more lenient with that.  I should have spent more time studying the Word WITH him, I should have told him more about the Lord.  But is it possible to teach a child EVERYTHING they should know before they leave the nest?  

When Tyler turned 18 a month after he graduated from high school, I thought he had gone crazy.  The only thing that reminded me of his sanity was the fact that I, many years before, had felt and done some of the things that he was doing.  There is something about knowing you are an “adult” in the eyes of the world that changes the way you feel inside.  It’s like you feel empowered, invincible, entitled.  And boy did he feel entitled.  My best friend and I decided that God works it that way so that by the time your kiddo moves out, you are so frustrated with each other that them being gone is okay…for a little while anyway. 

And then the rubber met the road….it was one month until he left for boot camp, one week, one day.  The time just flew away.  Before I knew it we were dropping him off at the recruiter’s office to head to Denver.  The rest of us arrived at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) the next morning at about 9am.  We had been told that it would be a long day…waiting for travel briefings, swearing in, more briefings.  This was not to be the case.  He had his swearing in at 10am, signed his contract, had a travel briefing, got his orders and was out the door of MEPS a little after noon.  It all happened so fast.  We had all anticipated being able to say our goodbyes, gives hugs, encouraging words, prayers.  But they lined them up down the hall and he was gone just like that.  He was gone just like that….I thought my heart was going to break, shatter, explode in my chest.  I had to fight the tears…wanted to be strong for my other kiddos.  We walked out of MEPS into the hallway.  And they were all standing there, waiting for the elevator.  I found him and grabbed him in a desperate hug. 

“I love you Tyler”.  
“I love you too, mom.  Goodbye”
He stepped onto the elevator. 
He was gone.
Just like that.
I felt like my heart had been pulled out of my chest.  This was not my son going off to college.  There would be no phone calls home, no visits for Thanksgiving, no emails, no text messages, no happy homecoming at Christmas.  No spring break.  No summer vacation.  His time at home was done.  There was no transition out, he was just out.  I did not know when I would hear from him next.

Being a mom is such a joyful thing, but it can bring the greatest heartache as well.  Tyler had chosen to do something with his life that would potentially put himself in danger.  Life-threatening danger.  I have watched the effects of placing yourself in harms way for the sake of others in my sister and there is so much of it that is not pretty.  I think I had somehow romanticized the military for so many years.  It is such an honorable thing to serve your country, to do what so many others cannot do.  It’s a good job when there are not many to be found, but lets be real here.

The military is meant for one thing and one thing only. Defending our country.  It is hard.  It is painful.  It requires sacrifice, sometimes an ultimate one.  Deployment is ugly, dirty, lonely, brutal, scary.  The things you see can destroy you.  I don’t know how anyone makes it through without the Lord.

So thus begins the journey…Tyler on his, me on mine, our family on this road of supporting and loving a Marine.  Can we do it?  Yes…but only with the Lord.  He is the ultimate comfort, support and instructor for it all.  There is so much more to say, some heavy, some light, but I will save it for other posts.  Until next time….Mitzie

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