It’s Military Monday!
Introducing another one of our Strong Chicks, Army Mom Heather Simon. I so enjoyed meeting her and you will too…….
My oldest son Seth came to us his senior year of high school letting us know he was thinking about the Military. I of course gave him all the reasons why he just needed to go to school… You know, he was smart, needs that degree, all of the typical mom stuff. As graduation was approaching, he talked more about it, shared he had talked with several recruiters and was deciding on which branch. Again, I just tried talking him out of it, and just said he would think about it. Then it came time to apply for schools and the bomb (you will understand this in a few minutes) was dropped, he was going into the Army.
I suggested he still apply for some schools because you never know, he proceeded to tell me “I know mom, this is what I’m doing, I’m going into the Army”. I was saddened, and let him know we support what decision he makes, though in my heart I wanted to stop him.
He took his test, completed his physical, then was informed he would need medical clearance because of a past childhood illness. I at this point was secretly happy. We provided all of his medical records from the time he was a baby. Seth was diagnosed with Histocytosis, when he was 6 years old, this is 1 in 200,000, (yes that has 5 zeros) disease. He had to have a tumor removed from the right side of his face about the size of a fist when he was 5. The disease was so rare at the time it took them 2 months to diagnose him. He had another tumor removed when he was 10 in his foot. After the removed the tumor they had to rebuild the right side of his face. The surgery was 9 hours, the longest 9 hours of our life.
He’s doing great, he grew out of it (which most kids do), he had years of testing because it was the only way to determine if there were any more tumors. So years and years of bone scans, MRI’s and C-Scans, then several days holding our breath waiting for results. The first few years were the worst; every time he had an ache, or a headache or anything wrong we would go to the doctor and hold our breath. Thank God he hasn’t had a tumor since he was 10. He’s had a surgery since, but it wasn’t a tumor. In his words, “all those test taught him patience and how to be still, a skill he would need now (again you will know why)”
It took the Army 8 months to medically clear him and he finally got the call to come in sign his contract and swear in. I was secretly hoping he would change his mind. You know watching all his friends in school, him working not having as much fun, but that didn’t happen.
As he was leaving, the Army needed 1 more letter from the doctor, he called in a panic, we got the letter and he was on his way to Oklahoma City. He came home the next day all excited, talking a hundred miles a minute, he was explaining how he was getting a great bonus, but he gave up half of it to get more money for school, he shared how he negotiated he contract then he asked me if I was proud of him? “Proud of you, of course, great thinking about school and making sure it’s paid for, you did great”
“Well do you want to know what I’m going to be doing?” He just looks at me. “Of course I do”
He scored in the top of his test, I knew he would have lots of options, I was secretly hoping something easy that would keep him stateside.
“EOD” he says with so much enthusiasm. I of course do not know what these means, he looks at me with those little boy eyes “bomb specialist, I’m going to build and defuse bombs” (now you get the above references right?)
My heart stopped, it really did. I didn’t want him to go into the Army; I had a different dream for him. This is not what I had planned for him, how he can do this? As my husband was quick to point out, he is an adult and he gets to make his own decisions and go after his own dreams.
After researching his choice, finding out as much as I can, I realized it’s his dream and not matter what I had to support him. I gave him a hug, he went bouncing off and in that moment it hit me, with the blink of the eye he grew into a young man. It all made since now, those years he was obsessed with Mac Gyver, his love of government and George Washington being own of his hero’s, it was the perfect fit for him, and though it was not my dream for him, I was supporting my son 100%
He graduates from EOD School on the 20th, we haven’t seen him in 11 months, the program was tough, one of the toughest and he made it. He walks a little taller, his self-esteem is so much stronger, his confidence is amazing, and he’s no longer my little boy. All those years of protecting him, watching over him are over (thoughtus moms know it we never stop, they are always our little boys), he is a man going out in the mean cruel world. He will now protect us, he will watch over many, and most will never know him. He chooses a dangerous job, he loves what he gets to do, and he’s now our real life Mac Gyver.
No matter what dreams we have for our kids, when it comes down to it, it’s their dream and they must pursue their own happiness. So, I’ve stepped aside, let him purse his dream, my worry is off the charts, but I’m so proud of my son. I tell him often, I know he’s Army Strong, but I sure hope I made him Mom Strong first.
He rolls his eyes, smiles his little smile and tells me “of course mom, I am who I am because of you”