Sunday, April 22, 2012

Goodbye Wayward Son, Hello Airman!

Airman Son & Sisters
Remember Wayward Son?  No effort from him.  Lots of frustration from me (and his dad).  His high school years were a struggle for all of us. Even the animals got sick of all the yelling in the house.

Well, he is now a graduate of Air Force Basic Training!

I actually didn’t believe it when people told me we would see a remarkable difference after Basic Training.  My thoughts ranged from, “I wonder if you can actually die from video game withdrawal” to “what can they do in eight weeks that we couldn’t do in several years” to “please, take him.  Help!”

Our family flew to San Antonio, Texas for the graduation event.  I made the flight reservations early and told Wayward Son that he better graduate because I didn’t want to waste a flight and was going to San Antonio to visit Sea World whether he graduated or not.  (I know – I’m such a mean mommy!).

Happily for us, we saw him graduate and, (bonus!), I still got to visit Sea World. 

During one of the graduation ceremonies yet before we were actually able to see our Airman Son, one of the speakers apparently read my mind because he said, “Parents, when you see your child you will wonder how we were able to transform them in eight short weeks when you couldn’t do it in several years.”

They were not kidding.

This boy who, just a couple of months ago, had no inkling of what it was like to think of anyone but himself and argued with us about anything and everything just for sport, held doors open for us, spoke to us with respect, told us he loved us and carried himself like a man. 

He even seemed a little taller.

He had a group of peers who showed him respect (he’s showing leadership skills!) and he talked about one or two people in the flight who were “recycled” because they weren’t team players and would just sit around while everyone else did chores and worked. (Hmm, sounds vaguely familiar).

He excitedly told us about his new job (a mechanic on the B-52) and how proud of himself he was that he had to undergo a more extensive background check in order to be accepted into the program (and I was quietly grateful his wayward ways hadn’t led to anything more major than costly traffic tickets). 

Even though I am not this boy’s “real” mom, concerns about the choices he was making before enlisting clouded my vision of his future.  I am the step-mom, the one who has no problem stepping aside to let his mom and dad hug him and love on him first upon seeing him at his graduation but I do feel like his mom and have helped raise him, have worried about him and did my best to teach him to be polite and loving and compassionate. 

Many times, it felt as if these lessons were going into a black hole.

The mom in me has to fully admit that I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of sending this boy into the military, particularly during a time of conflict.  I know I was supposed to be proud and pleased that he was going to serve our country but as a self-described pacifist, I had difficulty mustering up a supportive “HOORAH!” 

The mom in me wanted him to choose another path which didn’t involve putting himself in harm’s way but somehow kick started him to a productive and happy future.

Now that I’ve seen him though, and who he has become, I am (for once) happy he didn’t listen to me. 

I am proud of my Airman Son and proud to call myself an Air Force Mom. My eyes well up when he recites the Airman’s Creed with passion and honor and shouts the last line of the Airman’s Creed, in unison with his fellow Airman: I WILL NOT FAIL!

No, you won’t Airman Son.  I believe that now. 

You will not fail.

4 comments:

Sandy Spurlock said...

What a special and moving portrait you just painted of this young man. I really enjoyed and was moved by your writing!!

robert's sister said...

The change in him was quite remarkable and I was happy to share it with everyone. I'm happy this touched you and appreciate you reading!

bill austin howe said...

Well. Amazing how we each approach our destiny. I am proud of your wayward young man.

robert's sister said...

Bill, You are so right. Everyone gets their in their own way. It's so tough to see our kids make some of the choices they do, though! I'm pretty proud of him, too. :-)