There are two kinds of people you should never mess with in this world. The first would be a nursing mother and the second would be the mother of a deployed Marine, soldier, sailor or airmen. Actually- make that mother or father and include any stage of service then double it if they are deployed, and triple it if they are deployed Marines.
I was a nursing mother. I remember tug-o-wars with the baby and his paternal grandmother when it came time to feed him she would pull him close to her and say, “
feed him.” I would have to put my arms around him and gently pry him back, “No that’s okay, I’m breastfeeding him remember?” Inside I would be boiling over. What was wrong with her? Did she not realize this is something only a mother can do? Ill
If you are not the parent/loved one of someone in the military - then I am going to refer to you as a civilian. Please do not be offended, it’s the only way I can differentiate the people who have been introduced to the military world via their children- and the people who have not.
I stopped or limited talking to more than a few good friends and family when my son joined the Marine Corps. No one understood what it was like. The swelling pride was never stronger than the relentless fear. My friends and family tried to understand- but they didn’t.
“I missed my daughter when she went to college too, you’ll get used to it.” One gal said.
Oh really? Were they shooting at her in that school?
I found a website www.marineparents.com where I could relate to people. They didn’t think I was over the top in either pride or fear. As the years went by, I realized a common theme among us. Civilians just did not “get it.”
Stupid comments from unknowing loved ones, friends and strangers could bring us to our knees. How could they not understand- that at night most of us were lying in bed thinking about how we would survive if anything happened to our kids in a war that so few of us (if any) understood? And if we were lucky enough to sleep- our very first thought, before our eyes even opened, every single day was please don’t let anything happen to my child.
“I don’t want my tax dollars going to this war.” I was once told. Really? Because your tax dollars are going to help buy the equipment, my son and all his buddies need you piece of crap.
“I don’t believe in this war- Bush is sending all these kids to die for oil.” Even if this was true- it is NOT something you should ever say to a deployed parent.
“Is he somewhere safe?” No, like I said- he is in
“You should just stay busy- then you won’t have so much time to worry.”
“He’ll be fine.”
“This war is all about money and everyone is dying for greed.”
“I heard the Marines are killing women and children.”
“He’ll just be there for a couple of months, right?”
Like nursing mothers, we are protective and ready to strike anyone that means to harm our children. Stupid words are like swords to the heart. For me the very worst was when someone I worked with told me if my son were to die in
, he would not go to heaven because he was not saved (born again). I used a year’s worth of tolerance on that one statement. I cried for days- and I never went back to work. It didn’t matter that my son calls himself Buddhist, it only mattered that someone I called a friend was so thoughtless. Iraq
Keep your politics to yourself. I don’t care if someone has 30 flags on their car and 30 Semper Fi stickers- don’t say I hope they kill all those Muslim bastards. Because the person you are talking to just might be Muslim. Muslims are serving too- alongside my Buddhist, and Jewish and Christians. Don’t make it about your hang-ups and prejudices. And really- parents do not want to hear about their kids having to kill anyone. Fact or not… it’s not up for discussion with civilians.
So what should you say to a parent of someone in the military?
You must be so proud.
Please, thank him for his service.
Good for him/her.
I know you will worry- so if there is anything you every need- here is my number- call anytime.
What does he/she need?
What can I send?
Can I write to him/her?
I’ll keep him/her in my prayers.
I was in
, if he ever needs anything here is my number. Nam
My fellow Marine Parents were all I could really talk to for a few years. They knew that some days we would be crazy and other days depressed. It was a very manic four years. Either pulling the covers over my head and waiting for the anxiety attacks to go away or going 100 MPH cleaning house or baking cookies to ship oversees.
Many of the friends I made from the website turned out to be dear friends. I will never forget the kindness of people I had never met, who sent me cyber hugs and long emails just checking in. Some are friends who I ended up meeting in person and who I love dearly. And even a few I still have not met in person but I have a strong connection to- I call my friends. Fortunately, my old friends –are still my dear friends too.
There were civilians who gathered care packages for Nick’s unit, who baked for him and his brother’s in arms, people who never talked about the politics of war- just the human element- the one we all already knew. War is unbearable for parents and loved ones. Some of these people I knew and some I didn’t, but they all have my gratitude.
Right now I have a few friends whose son’s are deployed to
. I hope I can hold them up as well as they held me up when Nick was deployed. We are all war weary now. Deployment fatigued and oohrah’ed out, gray hair and weight gain our battle scars. It’s for them that I sat to write this today because I know how they feel. Don’t talk to me unless you have been in my shoes is what we think in our heads. That is how we all feel, though we try to not broadcast it. We don’t mean to exclude people who love us, but honestly- it’s like the nursing mother syndrome. Hormonally unbalanced due to fear, and hyper vigilant in our protection- our minds will not accept anything that may harm our child- even words. Don't mess with us. Afghanistan