I'm just popping in to clean out the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have accumulated around my blog. Long time no post, huh? I've been very busy doing nothing in particular. My sewing machine sits idle, so I have nothing creative to share. Since I last posted I've had some wonderfully happy times and some sad and some angry times and I've considered posting about them, but in the end, I just kept quiet. That's my way, so often. To just keep quiet. Don't get me wrong, I have my big mouth moments when I really should have kept quiet, but I think more often I end up regretting what I didn't say. Words like I'm sorry, or I was wrong, or I understand, or I love and appreciate you. Quiet. Who would ever have thought I would use that word to describe myself? Certainly not all those teachers who wrote too talkative on my elementary school report cards. Maybe quiet isn't the best word, maybe reserved would be a better description. I can be just as chatty as the next one, it's the important stuff that leaves me speechless. This blog has often given a voice to thoughts and feelings I wouldn't have expressed otherwise. Sometimes a good thing, but not always.
So I sit here. Quiet. Not sure what to talk about. Those sad and worried times I considered posting about, but haven't are likely what's kept me quiet. Why I haven't shared precious moments like these.
Pretty wonderful don't you think?
Or exciting happenings like this.
Those are just a few of the happy times. I am blessed to have so many more happy times than sad and the sad are usually short lived events. If you ask any parent what causes them the most joy but at the same time can cause the most heartache it's being a parent. Parenting is the toughest job in the world and also the most important job. You don't get a manual, there isn't a big book on policy and procedure you can reference and many times screw ups aren't evident until years later. They can't be undone and you aren't even sure what you did wrong in the first place. Times have not been easy with Casey. Some issues have been of the typical teenage variety- messy room, school work, cell phone bills while others more serious. Serious or not, it's not the issues that matter I guess, it's how we work through them, how we deal with them, so that they become learning experiences. I know we've made mistakes with that part, working through the tough issues, handling challenges with grace. Communication isn't always easy with Casey. Now he's only a couple of weeks away from graduating from high school and he's eager to begin his life as an adult. That's the normal, healthy progression of life, I know this. My fears lie in the fact that he is making decisions that will affect his future based on a sheer determination to be away from the life he has now. He has decided he wants to join the Marines. An admirable decision, I know. But not a decision to make in haste. not a decision to make based on promises made by a recruiter. Not a decision to make without seriously considering the implications of that decision. He made this decision without discussing it with us. Not once in his life have Mitch or I or anyone that I know ever heard him say he dreamed of becoming a Marine. The desire to become a Marine came only after a Marine recruiter came to his school and spoke to him. The same recruiter who called my house when Casey was 17. I refused to let him talk to him. How did he get our home phone number? By law, as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, public schools have to make available to military recuriters contact information about students or risk losing federal funding- that's how. In some situations, with some children, this would be no big deal. In some situations the child would consult with his parents, discuss what the recruiter has told them. But in situations, like ours, where the child is frustrated with his life situation and sees this as a quick, easy, solution, one that involves travel, promises of a paid education, career training and money to buy things like cars or motorcycles, and most importantly independence, I feel like the decision is being made for the wrong reasons. The recruiter can paint a picture of a pretty good solution to all your problems. I can't speak for other recruiters, but from our experience with this particular recruiter and the picture he painted, heck, I was ready to sign up myself. What could possibly be better? You get to choose the job you'll have and the your job selection determines where you'll be stationed. It is very likely you won't be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and if you are, you will only face danger if you are infantry. Support personnel have low risk jobs, like water purification specialists. He sat in my living room and went on and on about the merits of becoming a Marine. The only reason he was sitting in my living room involving Mitch and myself, being that Casey is 18 and doesn't have to include us in this decision is because he wanted me to put something into writing. You see, Casey has a scar on his left side. It's from a lung biopsy he had when he was only six weeks old. A sick little six week old, one who struggled to breath. The biopsy was done to try to determine what was causing this little guy to struggle so with the simple act of breathing. Something he shared with his mom and his grandmother and would share with cousins who were not yet born. He suffers from a lung disease that runs in our family but has no name. Lots of diseases have been ruled out, but for now it's a disease with no name. I know having no name makes it no less present, but not in Casey's mind. In his mind, he's fine. It's no big deal, because it's all he's ever known. I know it is a big deal because it's all I've ever known. I know the limitations and the progression. In order to make it smoothly through the physical exam he will be required to pass, they will need and explanation for the scar. Mr. Recruiter would like me to write a simple statement, something stating that he had this biopsy as a baby, but all is well now. I'm sorry, I'm not doing any such thing. So the next day, Casey goes with Mr. Recruiter to his pediatricians office to try to get him to say Casey's fit to serve. He's not doing it either. He wants a pulmonologist to be the one to sign off. Don't you think all this would cause the recruiter to rethink this? Nope. According to him most doctors will sign off if the person is adamant about his decision and feels that despite the circumstances feels that he is willing and able to serve. People keep telling me, don't worry about it, he'll never pass the physical, but I fear different. I've researched this extensively, I know how badly they are in need of soldiers. I know that in order to fill the great need that they have lowered their enlistment standards and are granting more waivers than ever before. Please don't get me wrong. I am not anti-military and part of me is very proud of Casey's decision. If this had been a well thought out decision, one made by weighing all options, all the pros and cons, I would feel differently. It isn't though. It's a decision made by a teenager who wants a quick solution to his problems and an escape from his present reality. I'm angry that his teenage mentality allowed him to go into this and not include us, the people who care most about him, in this, the most important decision of his life. I'm sad and angry that we can't get through to him, that he refuses to hear us. Please know, we are not telling him not to join the military, we just want him to talk to other recruiters, consider other options and to be more aware of what being a Marine requires physically and mentally. We want him to talk to other folks who have served and to people with a little more life experience. I know that given a little more time and life experience, he will feel differently. He will see that what he viewed as us being on his case or giving him a hard time was just us being parents. Loving caring parents who have always wanted the best for him. He's making a decision that requires a wisdom and maturity that he doesn't have and instead of relying on those who love him, those with a little more wisdom and maturity, he's being influenced by someone whose job is all about numbers. I know that the time comes when as parents we have to let our children go, to let them find their own way in this world. Let them be free to make decisions that we may not always agree with. We can't shield and protect them from the world like when they were small, but turning 18 doesn't magically mean our job as parents ends. I said something very similar to Alyssa when she was 18. I'm not sure she believed me at the time, but at nearly 21 and a mom herself, she not only believes me, but feels it herself. In many ways, our society views an 18 year-old as a kid. Legally, they can't drink alcohol, most potential employers would view them as inexperienced. To get hired in a good paying job they need to further their education or at the very least get to know the ropes through some sort of internship. Research has shown that brain development continues well into your 20s, so why are 18 year-olds considered wise, experienced, and mature enough to make such a commitment. A commitment that requires you to be willing to not only give your own life, but to take another. I realize that today may not be the ideal day to write such a post, a day set aside to remember those who have given everything they had to protect the freedoms I enjoy. I do remember them not only today, but everyday. I remember those who lost their lives and the families left behind to morn. It's just that this memorial day, when I think of the men and women who have bravely served and given the ultimate sacrifice, I can only hope they agreed to take this sacrifice with a clear mind and heart and full realization of just what that sacrifice means.
I hope this is not in any way offensive to anyone, it wasn't meant to be. It was written by a mama who loves her son, whose heart breaks every time I hear of another mama losing her son.