Time for a blog post that provides a little insight as to who I am and what makes me tick. As the title suggests, I am a Navy Mom. Not the dark blue color, but the mom of a U.S. Navy Sailor. My son signed up during the summer of 2012 and headed off to boot camp in April of 2013. Here he is the day he left for boot camp (he’d not be happy I posted this picture – I made it smaller):
If you know anything about boot camp (or basic training), you know that one of the most important things a mom can do during that time is write letters to their recruit, and enlist (ha!) others to do the same. Hand written letters are the ONLY way a recruit receives information about the outside world. These letters are worth their weight in gold. It’s sort of a “letter writing challenge” all on it’s own, to write a variety of letters and send different types of cards and notes along the way:
While our little boys are undergoing the transformation in boot camp that turns them into young men, us moms are going through a boot camp “transformation” of our own; learning how to cope with little to no communication for weeks at a time – practice for deployments. We also are learning how to give up being a major factor in our child’s life, and that “Needs of the Navy” becomes something we talk about far too often. (Along with “hurry up and wait”, but I’ll save that for another time). Here is a family picture, taken in Chicago, the Saturday after PIR (boot camp graduation):
What’s the point I’m trying to get to? The letters that are written during boot camp, and “A” school, and once they are stationed somewhere, are as important to a Navy Mom as to the Sailor. It’s our lifeline to them, not just their lifeline to home.
A Navy Mom feels a certain “loss” when her child enlists, but it’s also a JOY. It’s a JOY to see your child grow and learn to be on their own. It’s a JOY to see them make friends that come from varying backgrounds. It’s a JOY to see them excel at something they chose on their own. It’s a JOY to see them OWN their life and their future. Yes, the JOYs far outweigh the losses. Here’s a picture from 2015, after he was finished with schooling:
And yes, there is a constant struggle with the PRIDE you feel having your child serve his country, versus the FEAR that they may actually have to fight in a war. Once your child is serving in the military, you cannot hear the Star Spangled Banner without shedding a few tears.
Our son is currently a staff instructor in the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program; he is a Nuke, if you know anything about the Navy. He is almost 4 years into an eight year commitment. He has re-enlisted once, and may do so again. As of right now, I haven’t seen him in 8 months, which really isn’t that long of a time for military moms. Here’s a picture from the last time he was home:
To conclude, if you like to write letters, please look into some of the groups that write letters to members of the military. I send care packages and write letters through Molly’s Adopt a Sailor, which is part of Navy for Moms. A couple for you to check out are A Million Thanks, and Operation Gratitude. If you are wondering who to write to for your “30 letters in 30 days” during this National Letter Writing Month – there you go! HOOYAH!