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Yesterday I got the call from my son telling me his aptitude scores were high enough he could pick any program and he wanted to be an Aircraft Powertrain Repairer for the Army and what did I think. What does a mom say? You’ll be great but I’m a little worried about boot camp. He agreed, then he picked up the paperwork, brought it home, filled it out, and went back to enlist.

This decision by my son has opened a wave of emotions. I remembered how in first grade he protested what he was learning in school because when was he ever going to need to know how to add? Then in third grade when he told me elementary school was run like a prison. When high school came around and he decided to go to a charter school and took the train and bus to get there because I couldn’t drive him. He did it. When a month before graduation he still hadn’t made up his two F’s and I didn’t know if he’d really graduate. He got all the work done. It’s like his life flashes before my eyes and I wonder, can he handle the complete obedience to his Drill Sargent? Can he keep from questioning all the seemingly dumb things they will make him do when I can’t even get him to clean his room? The thing his, he always rises to the occasion.

Will it be hard, yes. Will it be good for him, yes. I am proud of the man he is becoming. I am proud he knows what he wants and has found the path to do the things he wants. He loves building and fixing things. He loves helicopters. He wants to travel. He wants to be independent and do things on his own. He wants to be a man. I am proud of him.

I am sad. There are no in between steps. One day he will be here and the next he will be gone. No cell phones or emails. I’ll have to trust in the process the army uses. I’ll be the outsider. He’ll be on the other side of the country. When he’s done there, he’ll go somewhere else, but nowhere near me. I have to say goodbye, over and over and over again.

I am suddenly enlisted in the ranks of Army Moms. I am already feeling a swell of pride in my son I’ve never felt before. I’m already paying more attention to the threats of war around the world. I am already seeking answers and reassurance from those moms that have gone before me. I feel the strength that I can do it intermixed with the pain of watching my first child, my quiet second born son, not just leave the nest, but fly far away.