“So, Mom, how do you feel about this decision?”…This is a question I was forced to answer many times after my son, David, said that he was joining the Navy. This was in November of 2015. My answer was always the same, “I am trusting God and know that He has a plan for him…and I know David needs to do something.” Good answer, right? Right. Except in my head, I was thinking, “It isn’t happening until April…he will be on a new path by then…. A safe path that will keep him here. With the family. God’s plan will overrule and this is not the plan He has for David.“
I really thought that David’s decision was a reaction to reading “Lone Survivor” or possibly “American Sniper.” But as I listened to him plan and talk and think out loud…I did think that maybe this was the “something” he was serious about. Maybe this really was the something he needed to do. But for my own emotional protection, I did not allow myself to dwell in that reality for long.
And yet, as April 11th loomed before us, David never changed his mind. After the friends and family goodbye… he was still signed on and after the family and dogs goodbye… he was immovable. And suddenly, it was April 9th and we would have to drop him off at the Recruit station the next morning.
I planned and executed the parties, the games, the celebrations…the hugs goodbye…my thoughts were completely busy with the plans and then suddenly it was over and it was Sunday and we were in the car headed for the Navy Recruit Station. The ride was quiet, with occasional comments between my husband and our son. “I told Chris he could borrow my ice chest and the kayak if he wants to.” “Did you hear about…(insert any sporting event here)” .
This is when someone should have asked me how I felt about his decision. Because my emotions were raw, and real. As I got out of the car to hug him goodbye, I could feel myself shaking trying to control everything that was welling up inside my Momma’s heart. And as he told me, “I love you, Mom. I will try to make y’all proud,” my reserves almost gave way. I felt like hanging on to him and begging him not to go. And yet part of me was so scared that he wouldn’t go and that he would change his mind. And when he told me that he hoped he would make us proud, I said, “You have always made us proud.”
It wasn’t until we got home that I allowed myself to cry. To really, really cry. And I could not make anyone understand why I was crying. My answer was still the same, “I am trusting God. And I know He has a plan for him.” And yet all that my support group of friends and family could tell me were things like, “This is a great opportunity!” “Don’t be sad, he has made a decision about his future.” “Marleea, he can’t live with you forever. It is time he decided to do something.”
“How does mom feel about this decision?” Well friends and family- I KNOW THAT IT IS THE RIGHT DECISION. I was not sad because he joined the Navy. I wasn’t even sad because he was moving across the country. I was sad because he is no longer here. He is no longer local and readily available. Family lunches and gatherings will be missing him. His dad will not have anyone to talk to about sports 24/7. He owns a piece of my heart and it moved away.
That was part of it.
The other part was he was going to bootcamp. Boot.Camp. And then he would be in the Navy. America’s Navy. What mom really wants her kid to experience either?
I mean first of all- Bootcamp…Don’t we generally protect our kids from that type of bullying? Discipline? Rigorous training?
And then he will be a Sailor? I don’t care if it isn’t “war time” right now. “War time” is right around the corner. No one can say we are going to be at peace with the world for next six years.
“How does momma feel about this decision?” “I am trusting God and know that He has a plan for David’s life.”
And trust in God I did. There were days at work that I would feel panic creep up in my soul and I would pray. I could not text David. I could not call him. I could only pray. Pray and trust in the plan that God has. And wait. Wait for Thursday’s letter (after the 3rd week). Wait for the random phone calls. Wait for the “I am a Sailor” phone call announcing that he had passed everything and would be participating in the Pass in Review Graduation ceremony. Trust and wait.
And the call came. And I was there as he marched into the hall with his division for his PIR ceremony. I was there to see him march by…and search the stands for familiar faces. I was there to hear the 600 plus Sailor Recruits recite “A Sailor’s Creed” and sing “Anchors Away”. And I was there when the commander said, “Liberty! Liberty!” And I exited the stadium as fast as possible to grab my son and hold him tight. (I had to beat his sister to him) And I looked at him.
And I saw my son. My son who was a better man. My son who had learned to laugh with people he never met. My son who had gained strength from a God that he had not walked close to in months. My son. My baby boy. He stood before me, hugging me and I knew that he was now the man that the Navy had helped shape; but mostly he is becoming the man that God has created.. He was a Sailor. He is happy and excited to fulfill his duty as a Seaman in America’s Navy. Thank you Navy for taking good care of him. “I am trusting God and know that He has a plan for David’s life.” Praise you God for knowing that your plan is so much greater than mine.
During this weekend, I was reading a book by JoJo Moyes. In an excerpt from it she writes, “It’s just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that the grown man—the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated offspring—you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and complicated love life. You see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one. I looked at Will and I saw the baby I held in my arms, dewily besotted, unable to believe that I had created another human being. I saw the toddler, reaching for my hand, the schoolboy wheeping tears of fury after being bullied by some other child. I saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history…”
When I looked at David, all dressed in his Navy Whites, and later dressed in his tan and blacks (Peanut Butter they call it)- that is what I saw. I saw the dark haired baby boy I was scared would never be born. I saw the toddler who sucked his thumb and insisted on sitting by the air vent in the mini van because he liked the way it made his blanket smell. I saw the elementary and middle school strong willed boy who started a business selling his “stuff” in a way I can’t even describe. The boy who talked and told stories all of the time. The one I thought would never grow up. The boy who played with pencils and made an entire universe with them in his mind. The boy with the imagination and dreams. I saw the teenager who played sports with all of his heart. The one who was robbed at gun point and his life took an immediate change. I saw the boy who loved the Lord with all of his strength and all of his might- but had his faith rocked and challenged… and I saw the man. The man who is my son. The man who is seeing that the God he followed does have a plan for his life. And it is good.
On Saturday night, as we were checking Dave onto his “ship” (aka- back onto base) I walked by a mom. She had the same look on her face… “what are we doing and where do we fit in?”
“So mom, how do you feel about this decision?” I am trusting in God and know that He has a plan for David. And today, right now, in this moment… I can see that God’s plan is greater than my own.
Thank you God and thank you Navy. Thank you God for America’s Navy… please bless all of our armed forces…