Author’s Note: This post is dedicated to all Army moms, but especially to those who have
active-duty spouses and active-duty kids!
I have been an Army wife for almost 22 years, and I have been an Army mom for a little over 22 hours at the time of this writing. At least that is how long it has been since I left my daughter to be transported from the Houston MEPS station to basic training.
For 22 years, supporting soldiers and the families of soldiers has become as natural as breathing to me. We have invited hundreds of soldiers into our home over the past two decades for holidays, meals, and sometimes just because they needed a family for a while.
For 22 years I have loved my role as a surrogate mom and friend to young troops.
Now, I hope someone will do the same for my soldier, my daughter.
I hope she knows the love, camaraderie, and wonder that comes from being invited into a home as a stranger and leaving as a family member.
I hope she knows how to trust the unit she is assigned to and be “all in” so she can be supported.
I hope those assigned to lead her know how to lead and, more importantly, how to care about their followers.
I hope she has a battle buddy to watch her six in training and a cadre of comrades who want to share adventures with her.
I hope she has watched her father carefully cultivate his own career with integrity and honor.
I hope she wants to become the same kind of soldier he is.
I hope she is pushed to be the very best she can be by men and women who want to mentor those in their charge.
I hope that she makes it through basic training with confidence and without injury.
I hope that she looks around and sees opportunity where she couldn’t see it last year.
I hope she doesn’t regret giving up college life for combat boots.
But most of all,
I hope she finds the same support we have always tried to give young soldiers just starting out.
I hope there is another Army spouse in her path who has a heart for troops, especially when they are far from home.
I hope she finds a surrogate mom of her own.
After being embedded in Army life and still in the thick of it, I know that true Army life is not always “photo op” homecomings and glamourous locations. In fact, those things constitute very little of our lives.
We have been seasoned by numerous combat tours, moves, and hardships; we have been sweetened by all the family, friendships, and blessings along the journey.
Our lifestyle is not heroic nor perfect. We have unethical people that are in our ranks, just like every other profession. It requires a lot of patience and emotional intelligence to serve in the military for the long haul.
Like many of my fellow Army spouses, I have “seen behind the curtain,” and that can be disconcerting as you watch your child enter that same world.
In the weeks before she left, I had hoped to have some long talks and impart whatever wisdom I could, but I was overshadowed by her dad and our family friend who have been physically and mentally training her.
They ran with her, yelled at her, (If I hear the phrase “pain is temporary” just one more time…) and made her complete tests and tasks to help her reach her potential.
But as she got on that bus, I was able to slip her an envelope so I could try and reach her heart. I had a long list, but I really wanted to tell her three things.
I told her:
1. Own your choice! You made a good one. Don’t quit. Don’t give up, and don’t ever let regret rule your life. Anyone can choose to go to college, join the Army, get married, or start a family. That part is easy. Owning your choice and living a life for your choice is the only true satisfaction. The rest is just Instagram posts and empty memories. Own the life you chose for yourself, and we will never be disappointed.
2. Let go of emotional baggage! Stop thinking about what you don’t have, and count your blessings. We are all given free will. Our choices may lead us to difficult paths, but we have the power to choose. Choose friends and roads wisely.
3. You are loved! You are loved more than you know, and you have always been loved. We are carrying your heart within ours and praying for you. Make sure you remember to pray as well, because at the end of the day, your relationship with God is what will sustain you.
As I wait for that first phone call, I can only hope that she read my letter and is already embracing the Army lifestyle.
HOOAH AND HOPE to all the Army Moms out there!