Letter From Mom: To My Navy Son

In honor of Mother’s Day this year (Sunday May 8, 2011) we have a few Mother’s Day “letters” to share. Whether you’re a mom of a sailor, Mom who is a sailor, or a sailor whose kids are with mom back at home, we say thank you to ALL Navy moms for your service!

Hello, My name is Jessica Belcher, My son is an IT in the Navy. He is 21 and stationed in Sicily. He left for Boot Camp Nov. 22, 2009 and graduated Jan 29, 2010.

A letter to my Navy son

Dear son,

Wow, it’s hard to believe that you have been a Sailor for over a year now. I remember when you started talking about joining the Navy and we weighed your options, talked about what job that you would like to do, where you would love to be stationed, whether you would prefer being on a ship or a sub. At that time we didn’t realize that the Navy would put you where you were needed and not where you wanted to be.

Then the trip to the Recruiter, ASVAB test, MEPS along with your waiver for your vision….phew, that was fun.  (Sarcasm intended)

Boot camp…now that was a different story. The NOT KNOWING was awful for me and for you. I had no idea that I was going to boot camp as well. Boot camp taught me that no news really is good news and OPSEC is much more important than anyone realizes. I learned how to deal with no/little communication for extended periods of time and that you have two families now, your biological family and your NAVY family.

Dropping you off at the recruiter that last time to leave for boot camp was bitter-sweet. I knew that you would be taken care of, monitored, looked after but it would no longer be ME doing that. I don’t think that either of us realized that; though your home would always be here, you would never live here again.

The next time I saw you, you were marching in those huge doors at PIR in your dress blues. Proud, a bit thinner, and excited to be heading to the next step of your Navy career. My last memory of you that weekend: I had just dropped you off for the last time on PIR weekend. I watched you walk up the sidewalk, back towards the barracks… Dress Blues perfectly ironed and creased, your stride purposeful and confident, head held high. I was in awe. You must have felt my gaze, because at that moment, you turned and looked back and briefly waved one last time. I wish I’d been able to take a picture (darn rules) but you caught me off guard, I was too busy trying to swallow the huge lump in my throat! The tears came the next day as I took off from the airport and I looked back and watched the Chicago skyline disappear. It didn’t seem right, leaving you behind and yet I knew it was. Just as every time before, you-and your friends (your new Navy Shipmates now) -would figure it all out your own. You know what though, 16 months later, you are just fine, better than o.k. and so am I, thanks in large part to all I’ve learned and all of the wonderful Navy Moms I’ve met! I’m so very thankful to God for seeing me through each and every stage of my Sailor’s life and am waiting to see what the next door he goes through will be. God Bless the Navy and every Sailor and Mom!

One of the hardest things as a Mom is knowing when to release your grasp and let your child spread his wings. From the moment they arrive, we snuggle them close, nurse them, protect them fiercely, intercede, advocate, sacrifice and generally go over the top to make sure they have everything they need to be happy, safe and successful. It is not a job for the faint of heart. Often, we find ourselves holding onto them with clenched fists, the world beyond our safe harbor can be such a cruel and scary place. It’s natural to want to close ranks around them and keep them in, to want them to stay where we can continue to watch over them and control what affects them. Especially if you are not sure if they know what they are doing.

But at some point, that clenched fist must become an open palm, a place to receive whatever your fledgling adult offers and a launching pad for them into the world beyond, sometimes into the unknown. This is especially so when your precious offspring decides to join the Military! The launching process is suddenly accelerated and even the most “adjusted and open minded” Moms can be thrown for a loop! I know I was, and since I did not have any prior military experience. I was probably not as open-minded as some. I was concerned, intrigued and downright scared. Still, I knew this one I could not out think, outsmart or out wait him on. It was going to happen, one way or another.

That is my role now, still nurturer, cheerleader and prayer warrior, but now reflective sounding board and trusted adviser, always and forever Mom.