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He’s my child…doesn’t mean he is A child

children laughing and eating fruit

We, as military mamas in particular, say it all the time.  “My child is deploying”.  I have two adult children.  Offspring is so impersonal.  But they are far from children.  One is a Lt in the Army and the other is a single mom of three.  So what to call them? Usually I say my son or my daughter.    This is my first point, and I realize it may be divisive.  My son is MY child, but he is not A child.  He’s a full grown man who has said yes to serving our country.  He mulled it over and considered which branch.  He didn’t take the decision or obligation and he didn’t choose to serve with no expectation of deploying.  In fact he wanted to deploy…I wanted him to be the Army librarian or something equally removed from combat.

Not my (or probably your) first Rodeo

It’s not that I have no experience with deploying.  Nor am I a novice at long separations due to military service.  My brother was in Desert Storm; my sister missed my wedding due to being stationed in Japan.  Our kids didn’t even “meet each other” until the oldest was three years old.  

It is different when it is the now-adult person you have cared for their entire early life.  I missed my siblings.  Was worried sick when my brother was fighting, and months went by without a word.  I’d watch CNN like I was being paid to spot someone in the crowd.  Eyes drilling holes into the TV screen, scanning the horizon for my brother…like he was the only Marine over there.  I cried more days than I didn’t.

And still, he wasn’t my son. 

I felt a deep loss when my sister wasn’t in my wedding.  When she wasn’t here for baby showers, and I wasn’t there for hers.  We didn’t talk very often, back when long distance calls logged a hefty .80/minute.  

I think for me, the difference is I’m older and have a perspective I didn’t have in my 20s.  He was the baby I was afraid I’d lose before he was even born, after an accident while I was pregnant. Bedrest and early labor came but he was fine.  In fact, he was a hefty 8 lb 13 oz bundle of energy when he came home from the hospital.

He was like riding a mustang all the time, needing a LOT of discipline.  He was also a tender hearted, sweet little boy who grew into an independent, hard working teen.  We discussed current events, music and movies (among other things)  I managed to instill a love for Star Wars but lost the football battle–he’s a die hard Packers fan.

And then he ultimately joined the Army.  He worked hard and is (in my humble opinion) an excellent officer and leader.   I miss him every day and I hate when weeks go by without us connecting.

That’s the mom side of things.  What about the military support group leader side of things?

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Here are 10 things I know, as my son heads off to deployment in the near future.

  1. Him being deployed doesn’t make my missing him MORE than the mama who misses their service member who is serving across the country instead of the world
  2. I will check on whether he wants cards, boxes, supplies, etc.  I will not assume he does just because he’s deployed.  I have lost track of how many times Military Mama Network has heard back that the service member didn’t actually have space to store the many expressions of “mama love”.
  3. OPSEC – Operational Security is necessity.  This means I won’t discuss when exactly or where exactly he is deploying.  I won’t share knowledge that he tells me; he’s not telling all of MMN.  He’s telling his mom.
  4. PERSEC – Personal security is still a necessity.  I will not share information on me heading out there, or where he is storing his items, or any number of facts that may put him or another in harm’s way.
  5. I will probably be overly sensitive sometimes.  Especially around his birthday.  We haven’t really been able to spend many of his birthdays together since he was 13 but it doesn’t make me any less sad.
  6. I’m proud.  I’m sad.  They are not mutually exclusive.
  7. I still am requesting information I’ll need if we need to use the Red Cross to connect with him during a family emergency.  It’s not always about our service member not being cooperative.  Sometimes the chain of command is slow.
  8. There will be times he’s out of touch.  That doesn’t mean it’s a catastrophe.  It may be that he’s just busy doing what he needs to do….which may not be call his mama.
  9. I don’t need any more Army or military mom decals.  I MAY need a text, PM or note “Thinking of You”
  10. We are ready for this.  He’s not lived home in a long time.  He’s a full grown man.  He’s been trained and trained and trained.  He was a little boy who served those around him.  Now he’s a man serving our country, fulfilling a lifelong dream.  

Which means I can tighten my belt strap, put on my big girl pants and all those cutesy phrases.  Basically I can roll with it and make his deployment a smidge easier because he’s not worried about what’s going on at home.


What about you?

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What have you learned through deployments?  What are your questions about deployment?  And what do you do to “get through” deployments? 

If you’re new to the military mama world, we’d love to have you join us in our Facebook group.

If you have a loved one deployed, and would like to sign them up for a little mama love, we would be honored to support your family by sending boxes or cards.