As much as we want to believe that we are the only ones that have a hard time adapting to the military lifestyle, there are some other important people that are too. It is the families that also experience a very emotional ride. Some of them have been use to having their Marines in their life every day. So now with their Marines venturing off into their own path, there’s a huge shift in the parents’ life. I interviewed my in laws to get their initial reactions when my husband first left for the military. I will cover on this topic the next 3 days. I will start first with my mother in law, then father in law and lastly, my sister in law.
For my mother in law, she initially felt like it was just her son going on a journey to do an amazing thing for our country. What she did not anticipate was the emotional rollercoaster her family was going to endure. She first felt helpless, gutted like a fish and that he was taken away from her. It was from knowing everything about him and what he did, to now being on the opposite end where she had no idea what was going on. The empty feeling settled in, the day he left for bootcamp. She went into a wave of sadness because everything around her reminded her of him. She stressed how her biggest regret was when he tried to call her, she was not there to pick it up. She didn’t get the chance to be motherly during this time and so it was something that she had to get use to because the military was making him grow up so fast before her eyes. In a way she felt it forced her to stop being a mother, to let them grow individually but to always remain supportive by their side.
What helped her cope the most was her family, friends, and the parent support groups online. She would often find herself driving to do activities that reminded her of her son. Unlike other parents, she was fortunate enough to live near the training base. So even though she couldn’t see him, she still would drive close just to be in his presence. I also did this too with her and it helped tremendously. Because she was in a Facebook parents group, they would provide a chart that had all the activities the recruits would do during bootcamp, that was enough information to get her through.
Now, being 3 years in, the feeling is quite different for her. She is extremely proud of him and is adapting better to the lifestyle. For her it was easier to not feel as sad when he was at a duty station on a different continent than to have him extremely close. When he was closer to home, it made her face the feelings of missing him and having to accept she can’t always be there to mother him when he needs her. When she goes to airports now, the feelings resonate differently for her. What use to be such an exciting adventure, is now for her a place where she is reminded that her son is far away but will be coming home soon. She felt over time, it was better to accept it than to dwell on it. The son that she knew is now becoming a grown man and so she had to get to know him all over again.
There are some advices that she wanted to leave with other mothers out there. Ask a million questions at the recruiters office and look for as much information as possible because it helps you understand what your Marine will be going through. Once they step into the role of being a Marine, your hands are tied. Your faith is now in the hands of the Marine Corps. The best way I can put it in her words is wherever they go, your heart goes.You have to deal with the emotions that come with it and just when you think it’s over, there is another huge wave coming when the next mission happens. Even if it feels like she is letting him go, she isn’t because she will always be his mom. For her, this is the new normal. It never gets any easier, but you will learn to adapt better. Her love is unconditional and to this day she is one of the strongest women i know. “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in this world. It knows no laws, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stand in its path.”