My Son, The Future Marine

When your kids are little, one thing you can’t help but wonder is what are they going to be when they grow up?
A teacher? A fireman? A veterinarian?
When my first born was little, I would ask him what he wanted to be when he would grow up and he always had a different answer. He never had a passion for a specific career. “He’s little. He’ll figure it out as he lives his life.” I’d tell myself.
When he was a junior in high school, he had to make up credits for failing a class. He enrolled in a criminal justice course. After week two of the class, he decided he wanted to be a police officer. Of course, that made me both proud and also kind of sick to my stomach. Such a courageous choice– to protect and serve– but one that comes with great risks. But, I was happy that my son finally had decided on a path for life after high school.
He had a plan.
And then, one day after graduation he went with a friend to the Marine Corp’s recruiting office.
The next day, he informed me that his plans had changed.
“I want to join the Marines.”
My heart sank. I tried not to panic. I told myself once he researched and talked to people who had been through boot camp, he’d change his mind!
He started going to physical training at the recruiting office every day with his friend.
One thing I’ve learned is that when you tell people that your kid wants to join the military, they tell you that you should be proud! How brave! SUPPORT THAT BRAVE SON OF YOURS! The truth is that was not my first reaction. My first reaction was “No. Not my son. Never my son.”
Over time, it became clear to me that my son wasn’t going to change his mind. In fact, he became more sure with each passing day. We had many conversations about why he wanted this for his life. He articulated “why” in a thoughtful, intelligent manner. After one particularly intense conversation, I decided that I would stop saying “not my son!” and support the hell out of him.
Earlier this month, he went to LA for two days to go to MEPS. He passed his test and the physical. He was sworn in as a Marine Reserves recruit. He’s just waiting for an official ship out date for boot camp. Yesterday, he was told it’s very likely that date will be March 19th. (But possibly as late as August.)
So, how am I feeling about his decision at this very moment?
I’m a mixed bag of emotions. I feel proud– My son is courageous and brave. I feel nervous– My son will be away for 13 weeks at boot camp where he will be challenged physically, mentally and emotionally in ways that I can’t even begin to comprehend. I know he is strong and that he is smart, but I can’t help but worry about what he will go through during those 13 week. I feel sad, I feel excited, I feel unsure, I feel SO MANY THINGS.
The other night I was sitting on the couch with my husband watching TV. During a commercial, my husband turned to me and said “can you believe our son is going to be a Marine?” I could see that he had tears in his eyes. “STOP IT.” I said. “JUST STOP IT.” We both just sort of lost it. We started to cry and talk about how quickly our first little baby grew up and remember how we used to just hold him and look at him and be in awe of him and kiss his fat little cheeks and sing to him and rock him and just LOVE OUR SWEET LITTLE BABY?
That baby is all grown up now and in a few weeks

, he will be a changed man. I am looking forward to the day I can say that I am The Proud Mom of a Marine.

23 thoughts on “My Son, The Future Marine

  1. Susan

    Boy did this hit home. My only child wanted to go into the military straight out of high school. I insisted he get a college degree first thinking he would forget the military idea. Well 4 years and a degree later he is now on active duty in the Army. Took a long time to come to terms with his decision. I realize it is his life and his choice, but it broke my heart. I miss him and worry about him every single day. But he is doing what he wants and I am proud of him. Best of luck to your son. Sounds like he has thought this through. Like you said, we just need to support the hell out of them. They deserve that.

  2. Jennifer

    Wow!! Yvonne, we are going thru the same thing! Check out my blog post. What is your son’s MOS? It’s going to be hard letting go isn’t it? My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family, good luck to your son!!

  3. Natasha

    My sister was a Marine, I have many good friends who are/were (once a Marine, always a Marine) in the Corps. I applaud your son his bravery, and that optimism and naivete that only the young and strong and invincible have. I also understand what you are going through. I love and support these guys wholeheartedly, and I pray every day and worry every day until they are discharged. I will keep you and your son in my prayers; I hope he scored well on the aptitude tests and that he will be able to use that training once he has finished his tour. All the best, to all of you, he couldn’t have asked for a better family to launch from :).

  4. WorldofMom

    I wish him, and your family, great strength, and I thank all of you. So much is made of our military men and women, and they deserve it 110%, however I think it’s all too easy to forget about the families who may not be in the heart of it, but who make huge sacrifices as well. My family and I thank your son, your family and all military families out there for their service. We are in your debt! Just remember, that courage and strength came from you – you deserve to be proud!

  5. Miss

    Seriously Y. You’re the ONLY blogger I know who can write exactly how I feel about being a mom to a boy. Does that sound weird? *shrug*
    You’ve raised quite the man to already know RIGHT NOW that he wants something so badly. I wish him luck and you and Tony tons of strength.

  6. Meg

    well done him and well done you!
    Though my sons are still tiny I feel you on the heartache aspect of it. My best friend from childhood joined the Navy just before 9/11….you can imagine the scenarios I had going through my head in the years that followed!
    3 tours of Iraq and 2 of Afghanistan later he is career military and I couldn’t be prouder of him (and this from an avowed pacifist!)
    You write so beautifully about the flood of emotions that accompanies this announcement!

  7. Susan

    You should be very proud of your son. My family has a history of military service, and I used to think that everyone should serve a mandatory 2-year service obligation, however when my sons approached 18, I began to change my mind! I am a lot like you, they are my precious babies, no matter their age! Tell your son we are proud of him, and thank you both.

  8. Theresa

    I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you, Y. You should be proud of the amazing son you raised who is willing to serve his country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also struggle with letting him go off into the unknown. Wishing you and your family much strength and support.

  9. Rebecca (Bearca)

    I can’t imagine the crazy mix of emotions you must be feeling! It’s amazing that he is doing that, and you should be proud of him and ALSO OF YOURSELF (and your husband, obvs.) for raising such a good person.
    (But it makes me cry a little to think of precious tiny babies growing up, leaving home and GOING TO BOOT CAMP OMG.)
    ((hang in there. xoxo))

  10. SarahP

    I saw a Marine Corps commercial last night and immediately thought of you and your son. Exciting, terrifying…my son is only 2 but who knows what he’ll decide? I thank you for so openly expressing your emotions through this – it’s so REAL.

  11. Jessica

    My son is only three but I have to calm myself down occasionally when I think about what he will most likely do when he turns 16. His dad was in the Navy and his grandpa was a Marine and I am afraid my son is going to want to join the military instead of going to college. So it’s nice to hear that I am not the only one to worry and I hope I can support him in his choices, just like you are!

  12. erin

    My family went through this exact mix of feelings when my little brother decided to join the army after college. “WHY?” I cried and cried. But as he stood firm in his decision, we grew proud. He, and your son, are brave, strong young men, and it makes me feel good about our country’s youth. I can’t say that I don’t get my heartstrings pulled anytime I see a serviceman in the airport, though…

  13. Leah

    Wow! I can’t imagine how hard it is for you for your son to be going. My brother joined the Air Force a couple years ago and that is hard enough. I support him 100% but of course worry for his safety. Prayer is the way to go.

  14. Leah

    I can’t imagine how hard that must be for you. My brother joined the Air Force a couple years ago and that is enough for me. I support him 100% but worry about his safety always. But prayer is the way to go.

  15. Amy

    Oh, Y.
    My son’s Marine Corps boot camp graduation was December 2nd, and he graduated from MCT yesterday in San Diego. I wrote about this a little on my blog, too. I thought college would be the only plan my son had, but he had a different idea. Boot camp is tough, because you won’t hear from him for at least the first two weeks. You’ll send many more letters than you’ll get. I cried oceans starting the day of his swearing in ceremony. Last night was brutal because he shipped out to Camp Johnson in NC. Somehow, that got me all worked up again…just thinking of my “baby” traveling across the country from one coast to another.
    One thing I noticed when I told people about his decision…men always exclaimed, “Oh! You must be so proud!”
    The standard female response was either, “I’m sorry.” or “Are you okay?”
    You will never watch any kind of human interest story about servicemen or women on TV without weeping uncontrollably. If I watch any kind of programming on wounded veterans, I’m in need of a sedative.
    But! I couldn’t be prouder. It’s one thing to go off to college, and be far from home. That’s brave. But our sons and daughters making these enormous choices when they’re barely 18 (my son actually enlisted at barely 17) is ballsy. I admire their courage and determination.
    My youngest son, my little man (well, he’s six foot tall, not exactly little) is now very firm that he will follow in his big brother’s footsteps. Even my girly-girl daughter is talking to recruiters. I have no idea where this came from, but I have my Marine Mom bumper sticker and wear a USMC hoodie…and I’m grateful when people ask me to thank my son for his service. It’s nice to know that so many people are keeping him in their thoughts.

  16. Kerri

    I read you all the time, but don’t comment often. I’m in the military and I think it’s fantastic your son has joined the Marines. My boyfriend used to be Marine Infantry and he has a lot of pride in that. Your son will be challenged in ways he never knew and he will mature fast. He’s making such a grown-up commitment! Basic will be tough, but you gave him the tools to get thru it. Tell him to remember that the training is tough to make him a better Marine that others can count on and he will get thru it. Depending on his job, he may even stay in the states. Prayers and well wishes to all of you.

  17. lani

    We will be there all too soon. It’s hard for me not to hyperventilate when I read this and look at my six and seven year old boys. It’s a coming and I’m not ready. Hugs to you all. You have so much to be proud of… look at the wonderful, strong, capable young man you’ve raised!

  18. Susan

    Wow! This was hard to read. I can’t imagine how you are feeling. This is what happens when you raise kids right. They turn into wonderful adults. The pride you must feel is awesome. I hope his basic training is close enough for you all to go to his BT graduation. A highlight of my childhood is going to my brother’s Navy BT graduation.

  19. Mary

    My tears started at the first photo and haven’t stopped.
    You should be proud, but I understand how you feel. – The mother of a 2.5 year old

  20. ella

    Congratulations to him and you!
    My son will be joining the Navy when he graduates this May. I’m not ready for him to grow up. He’s my baby. It all happened too fast.
    The Navy has a website for parents and family. Certainly the Marines do too. You should check into it. Lots of support and info there.

  21. Kathie

    After reading this..over a year later…I could have written it word for word. My son is currently at MCT in Camp Pendleton. I had five weeks notice from the time my son told us he wanted to join the Marines and the time he left for bootcamp. (Although looking back…he had been planning and preparing for it a long time). They moved up his ship date by 9 weeks…so I’m still adjusting to the whole idea. I too tried to suggest other vocations, tried everything I could. Then vowed to stand behind him and support him 110%. I have entered a new world…one I didn’t chose, but am proud to say I am now a part of. I am Mother to a United States Marine! God bless your Marine and your family.

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