Updated: May 1, 2018
When my son left for bootcamp, I thought I'd die from missing him. Guess what? I didn't. This is his journey from civilian... to a Marine.
My middle, my baby Tristan... decided during his senior year in high school that he wanted to be a Marine. I won't lie and say that I wasn't scared. Because I was. I still am. But I am oh-so-proud, too. It's an interesting combination of fear/pride/joy/love, that I think only a military parent feels.
For the entire year before he left for bootcamp, he got up at 4am to prepare. He worked out every morning before school... he enjoyed his long surfer hair, and he bulked up on all of his favorite foods.
All year, I tried to ignore the ticking clock... the knowledge that when he graduated, he was leaving. I hated the idea that while he was at bootcamp, they would "break him down". In every mother's heart, that is a worst nightmare. But... the day came.
I cried and cried after he left. I joined every #MarineMom Facebook group on the planet, and together, we bonded like a tribe of fierce Amazonians over our kids. We waited together, cried together, shared our joys and letters together. We lived for mail days. I wrote him a letter each day, and I would suggest, if you have a child going to bootcamp, that you do the same. They LIVE for mail call. Know this: Generally, their mail is delayed for the first 2-3 weeks. You might get letters from them... asking why you aren't writing. It will all catch up to them. They will get all of your letters in a giant packet. :)
I counted down the 13-weeks. When he graduated, I would become a #MarineMom-- where the motto is: "My son has many brothers, therefore I have many sons."
When the day came to depart for Parris Island, we got up at 4am, painted our car, and left. We got so many honks and waves on the way to South Carolina. This land of ours is very patriotic! When we pulled onto the base in the wee hours of the next morning, we saw the WE MAKE MARINES banner, and my heart started skipping beats. We saw the iconic yellow footprints, where he stepped onto when he first arrived. Then we waited... and waited... for the motivational run to start. The new Marines would all run through the base, and they weren't supposed to show any emotion when they saw us.
My kid, however... his face was captured by the photographer... in the exact moment that he saw us. His expression was priceless.
We were able to spend that whole afternoon with him, then that night, we returned to the condo and waited for Graduation the next day. I tell you truly, it was one of the proudest days of my life. I don't think there was a dry eye in the place.
These recruits had gone through so much throughout the past 13-weeks... and now... they were finally Marines.
Later, we got to see photos taken throughout bootcamp by the photographer, and every time I see them, my heart swells even more.
My kid signed up for one of the hardest jobs in the military-- and trust me when I tell you-- you couldn't be in better hands.
I'm a proud #marinemom.