I See You Military Mom

Yesterday was the 243rd birthday of the United States Marine Corps, and tomorrow is Veterans Day.  Flags are at half mast, and Monday is a national holiday.  On Friday, the kids of Gramercy Christian School, as well as most of the towns of Newport and Morehead City, NC,  stood on the side of Highway 70 as a motorcade passed by in honor of fallen soldier Sgt. James Slape.  We had a special chapel the same day in honor of our military heroes, both past and present.  Last week, my sister attended a celebratory Marine Corps Ball with her husband, who is a Colonel in the USMC, and  today at church our local body of believers honored the men and women who have given their time in service to our country.  And all of that is appropriate.  In fact, it’s more than appropriate.  It’s the very least we can do.

Although I was not raised in a military family, I have had some experience with the military.  I live in a military town.  I work at a school in a military community.  My brother-in-law is a career military man, and here is what I know from experience.  There are a lot of unsung heroes.  There are a lot of heroes who will never have a chapel service in their honor, and perhaps because I work in a school, I see them.  In fact, I  sat at a basketball game on Friday night with a mother of four whose husband is deployed until sometime next year, and I watched her patiently parent three small children, while trying to watch her eldest son play basketball.   Our Kindergarten teacher at Gramercy is currently working a full-time job, while parenting two small children alone, and she comes to work every day with a smile on her face, ready to joyfully teach other people’s kids.  I have multiple friends whose husbands are gone or going yet again, and Gramercy Christian School has had eight students appointed to military academies in the last ten years.  Every one of those students have mothers who are fighting their own internal battles to try and surrender their sons and daughters to a cause bigger than themselves.  So here is what I want to say out loud today to every military mom out there:  I see you.

I see you doing more than you feel capable of doing and more than you should have to do.  I see you standing strong when you’d rather fall apart.  I see you being both mom and dad for months on end, and doing it in towns you’d rather not be living in.  I see you moving year after year, leaving friend after friend, and I see you trying on the other side to forge new relationships.  I see you once again rebuilding your life, and I see you doing it without the comfort of your own mom and dad, or a trusted set of people who can at least babysit now and again.   I see you redecorating your tenth house and trying to make it a familiar and comfortable home before Christmas.  I see you finding a new doctor and a new dentist and being the only parent available to drive kids to those appointments.  I see you changing the light bulbs, and the diapers, and the oil in your car because honestly, who else is going to do it?  I see you on the soccer field.  I see you at the Boy Scout meeting.  I see you at the dance recital.  I see you at Open House.  I see you the first day of school, trying to carry books and backpacks for three children without an extra set of hands.  I see you spending Thanksgiving without your spouse.  I see you spinning all the plates in the air, and I see you praying you won’t let one fall.  And I thank you.  Thank you for not quitting.  In fact, thank you even trying.  Thank you for staying behind and doing the hard work on the home front so that your soldier, or your sailor, or your marine  will have something to come home to.

I see you military mom.  I see you sending your 18-year old son or daughter off to a hostile and foreign country for an unspecified amount of time.  I see you in the airport smiling and waving as the child of your heart steps onto an airplane, and I see you fall apart in your husband’s arms after she boards.  I see you when I drive through the gates of Cherry Point and your son, who looks no older than my high-school Senior, waves me through while shouldering an assault rifle.  I see you on your knees in the sleepless hours of the night crying out to God for your child’s protection because I know for a fact that is where I would be.  I see you surrendering the very best part of yourself to something you’re maybe not even entirely sure you understand or agree with, and I see you sitting silently somewhere in the middle of that motorcade trying to make sense of it all.  And I thank you.

I thank you.  I thank you. I thank you.

Because here is what I have decided.  Although you may not have any rank, although you may not have “earned” any retirement pay, although you may not get saluted or get your own holiday, and although you certainly don’t get your own parking space at Harris Teeter, you are a patriot nonetheless. You have sacrificed for your country, and in some cases, you have sacrificed more than anyone will ever fully know.  I see you, military mom, and so does your Father in Heaven. 

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