Milestones and recognition

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pubertyWe usually think of milestones in our children when they are little.

They start to roll over and drink from a cup, say their first words.

Big whoop. (Said as a mom of kids that are over that!).

Those things are a big deal but our OS have experienced milestones of their own recently that I just have to share.

How ironic (that is, if I believed in irony) that each of my OS would cross a major threshold in their lives at practically the same time.

May I have your attention, please?

Ike became a seventh grader. Woo hoo!

Aaron became a sophomore.

Take that you annoying upper classmen!

And…cue the snare drums…

Nate became a recognized plebe. Crowd goes wild!

No longer are my boys at the bottom of their respective proverbial social heaps of life. (Was that an awkward sentence?) After all the travail and toil, when it seemed as if the day would never arrive, my OS are happy to be movin’ on up, just like the Jefferson’s, remember those guys???

This means that Ike is eager to try out for basketball and not have annoying eighth graders hogging up the good spots. As long as he keeps his grades up and his tongue in control, my orange-haired fella will be just fine.

For Aaron, being a sophomore means the leadership skills he has honed this past year that will serve him well and he is positioned to forge ahead in whatever way the Lord directs.

But neither of them went through the valley like Nate. Sure, it’s tough being a sixth grader. And no one would dispute that a 9th grader is pretty low on the high school totem pool.

But try being a plebe. Just a few days ago, Nate successfully completed his plebe year. To a large extent, I feel like I also completed my own plebe year as a mom. I need my own badge or pin for surviving! I was counting down the days when Nate would make this transition, he’s been more than ready!

As I reflect on this last year, oh, my soul, there were so many days when I just wanted to scoop my baby up and take him home.

R-Day+and+after+244How could he endure such treatment?
Why did they have to be so sassy and mean to MY child? He doesn’t have to put up with that! (insert the “that” of your choice, especially if you have a cadet at WP or are a USMA grad!)

And while I’m at it, why couldn’t the professors understand that my boy was overworked and needed a break? Or had a nasty cold?

Despite my numerous offers to contact the higher-ups and plead his case, Nate never budged. He could handle it.

(For the record, if any WP folks are reading this, I would honestly have never done that but I thought about it. Nate would have KILLED me! I would have been disowned as a mama!)

And my OS finished really well. Since I will get in trouble if I say too much, let me say Nate should be very proud of himself. Thanks be to God!

A Spirit Week Day we won't soon forget.

A Spirit Week Day we won’t soon forget.

P1070031On Thursday, Nate got recognized.

It was a day he has been talking about for weeks.

What does getting recognized mean?

Well, at West Point, when you have completed your plebe year, there is a special moment, almost divine in nature, when the upper class cadets, acknowledge your existence.

Instead of calling you “Cadet Last Name,” the cadets extend a hand of fellowship your way. They shake your hand and learn something very wonderful about you. They learn you have a FIRST name! That is a MAJOR event in the life of a plebe!

Imagine living in a confined place for nearly a year and not having someone call you by your first name. Or having to wear a uniform every.single.time.you.go.out.of.your.room.

And consider for a moment, not being able to talk once you leave the confines of your room.

But Nathan did and the transition from lowly plebe class to becoming a Private First Class is something so sweet. He strutted outside his room in cadet casual (khaki pants and shirt) and acknowledged people by their first name. He didn’t have to cup his hands or do any of those things that have been the bane of his existence for the last 11 months.

Plebes are people too!

Plebes are people too!

Liberation,

exhilaration,

jubilation sum up how he felt stepping out as a PFC.

Lest my awesome OS become too content, reality will come crashing down on him. Tomorrow he begins Air Assault School and rumor has it, it’s not a picnic.

If you are reading this, please pray for the cadets as they begin a grueling 11 day training school. Nate must pass this in order to come home June 6th.

If he doesn’t pass, (and apparently many will not), he will automatically be re-enrolled and spend another 11 days there until he passes.

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Feeling better – mama of a soldier presses on…

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RDay 063

We are currently experiencing a drought in our part of the country and if I had collected my tears in some type of container, (an incredibly large container), I think I personally could have solved the problem two days ago.

Today is a better day although it was quite painful walking into the house and past my son’s room. 

This picture is of the two OS and me while still at West Point featuring four items of USMA gear along with the jade necklace my friend whose husband is serving in Korea.

The last thing I want to be is maudlin so I’m concentrating on good things. 

I don’t even like the the word maudlin, therefore I’m trying my best to not be characterized as such. 

Instead, I’m going the other extreme by wearing  

– my West Point Mom Class of 2012 t-shirt with
– my West Point Class of 2012 matching canvas bag
– while driving my mini-van with the Proud Parent of West Point Class of 2012 bumper sticker
and reading Absolutely American (an amazing West Point book, highly recommend) and sporting my West Point Class of 2012 baseball cap.

My husband has – 
– a West Point Parent license plate holder
– a West Point Dad Class of 2012 t-shirt

– a West Point golf shirt

P1020552– an Army baseball cap and

– a Proud Parent to be a West Point Cadet’s Parent bumper sticker
along with an Army lapel pin.

Can you notice a theme here? Does it seem just a little over the top? Who cares! 

In some way, it connects us. I might wash my West Point Mom shirt in a couple of days if it starts to stink but I will stay in the laundry room and put it on as soon as it comes out of the dryer. Do you think I’m kidding!? I’m not! 

Despite hundreds of miles that separate us, I am tethered to my child by these small efforts.
Since I like to sew, earlier this spring, I made Isaac a pair of camo-boxer shorts and a camo-pillow case.

My nephew Josiah now has a camo-bib. I also sewed a camo-apron.

Suddenly my favorite colors are either red, white and blue or black, grey and gold. I can’t be there with him while he is learning “knowledge” or doing push-ups or making his bed with incredible speed and execution so in spirit, this is my mama’s way of showing support. 

He doesn’t know it but I do and it makes me feel better = less tears.

I cried so much on Monday that I had salt deposits under my eyes.

My two OS said, “Mom you have this white stuff under your eyes.” I went to the restroom at West Point and it wasn’t Kleenex, it wasn’t makeup, it was dried up tears. Yeah, it was that bad. 

While at the Panera Bread line today, wearing my West Point Mom Class of 2012 t-shirt, a man approached me and said that he used to attend the Sunday night concerts up there by the tip of the Hudson River. I saw that place just a few days ago and it brought me a measure of joy. I felt connected and held back the floodgates.

During this time of transition though I have to share this with you.

I haven’t been able to collect my tears and find a useful purpose for them but someone has.

It is God.

Scripture says in Psalm 56:8 “You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle–are they not in Your book?”  

I can’t tell you how many times I have clung to that truth. If you know people who are hurting, sad or lonely, share that timeless message with them. God is recording their tears in His bottle, on His scroll.

They matter to Him. And if you see me, for goodness sake, please compliment me on my new USMA fashions, it will help this mama of a soldier!

Go Army, Beat Navy!

Check out how things are going as we now await “the phone call” and a silly way we included our NC into a little family fun!

Link to a newscast about R-Day at West Point, I wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes!

Btw, I love all your comments and stories and want to put them in a future post. They are inspiring even to non-military folks! Keep ’em coming!

R-Day, 60 seconds

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“You have 60 seconds to say your farewells,” a member of the cadre announced as we all stood and prepared for our goodbyes.

A petite framed cadet whom I really wanted to hate was just doing her job. I don’t envy her of having the task of separating parent and family from child.

It was like every sentence she was saying felt like a Peanuts cartoon where Snoopy just hears, “blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Of course all of us knew it was coming, the mood was solemn as we all filed in and took our seats. I wasn’t the only weepy mom in the bunch so I felt a kindred spirit among us.

Oh I held him so tight. Be strong, be strong, I tried to remind myself.

Oh I held him so tight. Be strong, be strong, I tried to remind myself.

There was such a feeling of love and pride, but we all entered into some private, intimate place in our hearts and hugged our babies for the final time for a long while like we were the only ones in the place. Nate grabbed his meager belongings and confidently strode to the front of the auditorium and never looked back.

That was a good thing because if I had seen his face one more time, I would have taken it as a sign to rush forward to get him. I know he is divinely placed where the Lord wants him to be and this is perhaps the most unselfish thing I have ever done as a mother. We prayed and prayed for the Lord to put him where he was supposed to go. I cannot second guess my Heavenly Father. Saying goodbye and letting my beloved child set forth into a new life, I am filled with tears and pride, both never ending.

I remember child birth being very painful but this is really rough. I was in labor for four hours, and it hurt like crud and this process is much longer. West Point is such an austere and noble place, I am humbled to have a son who is in the class of 2012 and have the hat, t-shirt and matching handbag to prove it. I shall be wearing black, gold and gray for a really long time. There is a dignity and a respect I don’t recall seeing at other college campuses we visited. This is the right place for my son and I am thankful to have met a lot of nice guys Nathan will soon be calling friends. Take a look and click here at this link to see what his first day was like. OY!

We are all entering a new phase in our lives. After saying our farewells, there were two floors of vendors and organizations to greet us. Nearly ever booth had a box of Kleenex. It was reassuring to see that in the midst of all this decorum and granite, they had chiseled out a lot of compassion and concern.

We arrive home tomorrow and I do laundry which will include some of Nathan’s dirty clothes. It will be the saddest load of laundry I have ever done in my life thus far. I found the toe nail clippers he used before we dropped him off at West Point. They were in the hotel bathroom and yep, I cried.

The Hubs and I weren't the only ones struggling.

The Hubs and I weren’t the only ones struggling.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. I am the mama of a soldier. I am the PROUD mama of a soldier. Go Army, Beat Navy, Huah!

Psalm 63:7- 8

For you have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.