Category Archives: Raising Boys

Counting Down the Days

I’ve spent the last few hours going through old photos.

How did the time go by so quickly? I ask myself as I cry a little bit.

Or a lot.

It’s not the end of the world, just the end of this phase in his life, our lives.

It’s going to be okay. He’s going to be okay. We’re all going to be okay.

I just hope he knows how much I’ve enjoyed being his mama. I hope he knows how much joy his sweet little face and wonderful personality has given me over the past nineteen years. I hope he knows how damn proud I am of this brave choice he’s made.

I worry for him and the experience that lies ahead for him. I can see that he’s nervous, but not afraid. He’s determined, he’s strong, he’s brave. I hope that the love and care I’ve given to him helps to get him through the tough times in boot camp.

A dear friend left a comment on my last post that will stay with me during the weeks he’s gone.

If it’s any help, my husband (who is a Marine) said that at his most difficult moments in boot camp, he thought about his mom. You’ll be with him there and he’ll still be Andrew when he gets back.

It helps more than you know, sweet friend. Thank you.


Me and Andrew just after his junior high school graduation.

Seventeen Days

I need to write this post to help me work through all of the emotions that I’m feeling. I probably won’t go back to proofread. Not right away, anyway. Please excuse any mistakes I’ve made. I’ll come back to edit things later.

Last night I was at Ethan’s basketball practice watching my son run suicide after suicide. I picked up my phone to play a game of Draw Something when I noticed I had missed a call from Andrew. I was about to call him back when a text message from him came through.

“Mom, can you please call me right away.”

I didn’t panic, but I was definitely concerned. My mind started to race a bit. Was he in a car accident? Did he get pulled over? Did he run out of gas? I hope everything’s okay…

He answered the phone.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yes.” He said. “Mom, a few people were discharged last night and so they’ve moved my ship date up. I’m leaving for boot camp on May 1st.”

I was stunned into silence.

“Mom?”

I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.

“Mom?”

“Are you joking, Andrew?”

“No, Mom. I’m serious. I’m leaving on May 1st. I have to go to L.A. tomorrow for testing. Can you take me to the recruiting center at 5am tomorrow?”

He was supposed to leave on June 4th. We were supposed to have a going away party for him that weekend. I was supposed to have seven weeks left to spend with my son before he was shipped off to become a United States Marine. I had so many plans for the next seven weeks. Those plans have been changed. Now, there are only seventeen days left with our son.

On the drive home from practice, I told Ethan.

“Your brother leaves on May 1st.”

“Are you joking?” He said.

“I wish it was a joke. Are you going to miss him?”

“Not really. Well, I’m going to miss joking around with him about Troy Murphy. Actually, yeah, I’m going to miss him.”

I started to cry.

He asked me why I was crying. “It’s not like he died! He’s just going to boot camp! He’ll be back!”

“I know he’s not dying. But for me? This symbolizes the death of his childhood and it’s difficult for me to handle emotionally.”

Silence.

Tears.

All night, tears.

Still today, tears.

Tears of sadness. My little boy is all grown up. For the next six weeks, he will be stripped down to nothing physically and mentally only to be built back up. He will leave here an innocent, kind, loving, joyful kid and return a strong, proud, disciplined United States Marine.

Unless you’ve gone through this with your own child, you can not understand the emotional roller coaster me and my husband are experiencing right now. I know I should be proud of the brave young man that I’ve raised. And believe me, I am. But there is also a sadness that I can not explain. There is a fear that gnaws at me– fear of what I know will happen to him, fear of what I do not know is going to happen to him.

I’ve spent the last nineteen years of my life making sure that boy is safe, healthy, happy. I’ve laid on his bedroom floor when he’s been sick just to make sure he’s breathing. I’ve held him in my arms when he’s been scared, I’ve wiped tears from him eyes when he was hurt or sad. I’ve told him hundreds of times that I would do whatever I had to do to be sure he was safe always.

It’s a new chapter in his life and also in mine. While I’m still his mother, I will always be his mother, it is no longer my job to keep him safe from harm. I must now let go of the idea that he is a little boy that needs to be sheltered and protected.

Every person that I talked to who has been through this with their child tells me the same thing “He will come back a completely different person. You won’t even recognize him.” This is both exciting and also terrifying. I like my son exactly as he his. He’s kind, gentle, loving, considerate and funnier than you can imagine. I have to believe that when they say “different” they mean is an “improved version of the wonderful person you’ve raised.”

I am going to need a lot of hugs and possibly lots of chocolate/wine/bean dip to get through these next few days.

My Son, The Future Marine

When your kids are little, one thing you can’t help but wonder is what are they going to be when they grow up?
A teacher? A fireman? A veterinarian?
When my first born was little, I would ask him what he wanted to be when he would grow up and he always had a different answer. He never had a passion for a specific career. “He’s little. He’ll figure it out as he lives his life.” I’d tell myself.
When he was a junior in high school, he had to make up credits for failing a class. He enrolled in a criminal justice course. After week two of the class, he decided he wanted to be a police officer. Of course, that made me both proud and also kind of sick to my stomach. Such a courageous choice– to protect and serve– but one that comes with great risks. But, I was happy that my son finally had decided on a path for life after high school.
He had a plan.
And then, one day after graduation he went with a friend to the Marine Corp’s recruiting office.
The next day, he informed me that his plans had changed.
“I want to join the Marines.”
My heart sank. I tried not to panic. I told myself once he researched and talked to people who had been through boot camp, he’d change his mind!
He started going to physical training at the recruiting office every day with his friend.
One thing I’ve learned is that when you tell people that your kid wants to join the military, they tell you that you should be proud! How brave! SUPPORT THAT BRAVE SON OF YOURS! The truth is that was not my first reaction. My first reaction was “No. Not my son. Never my son.”
Over time, it became clear to me that my son wasn’t going to change his mind. In fact, he became more sure with each passing day. We had many conversations about why he wanted this for his life. He articulated “why” in a thoughtful, intelligent manner. After one particularly intense conversation, I decided that I would stop saying “not my son!” and support the hell out of him.
Earlier this month, he went to LA for two days to go to MEPS. He passed his test and the physical. He was sworn in as a Marine Reserves recruit. He’s just waiting for an official ship out date for boot camp. Yesterday, he was told it’s very likely that date will be March 19th. (But possibly as late as August.)
So, how am I feeling about his decision at this very moment?
I’m a mixed bag of emotions. I feel proud– My son is courageous and brave. I feel nervous– My son will be away for 13 weeks at boot camp where he will be challenged physically, mentally and emotionally in ways that I can’t even begin to comprehend. I know he is strong and that he is smart, but I can’t help but worry about what he will go through during those 13 week. I feel sad, I feel excited, I feel unsure, I feel SO MANY THINGS.
The other night I was sitting on the couch with my husband watching TV. During a commercial, my husband turned to me and said “can you believe our son is going to be a Marine?” I could see that he had tears in his eyes. “STOP IT.” I said. “JUST STOP IT.” We both just sort of lost it. We started to cry and talk about how quickly our first little baby grew up and remember how we used to just hold him and look at him and be in awe of him and kiss his fat little cheeks and sing to him and rock him and just LOVE OUR SWEET LITTLE BABY?
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That baby is all grown up now and in a few weeks, he will be a changed man. I am looking forward to the day I can say that I am The Proud Mom of a Marine.
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Making Me Proud Since 1993

When your kids are little, one thing you can’t help but wonder is what are they going to be when they grow up?
A teacher? A fireman? A veterinarian?
When my first born was little, I would ask him what he wanted to be when he would grow up and he always had a different answer. He never had a passion for a specific career. “He’s little. He’ll figure it out as he lives his life.” I’d tell myself.
When he was a junior in high school, he had to make up credits for failing a class. He enrolled in a criminal justice course. After week two of the class, he decided he wanted to be a police officer. Of course, that made me both proud and also kind of sick to my stomach. Such a courageous choice– to protect and serve– but one that comes with great risks. But, I was happy that my son finally had decided on a path for life after high school.
He had a plan.
And then, one day after graduation he went with a friend to the Marine Corp’s recruiting office.
The next day, he informed me that his plans had changed.
“I want to join the Marines.”
My heart sank. I tried not to panic. I told myself once he researched and talked to people who had been through boot camp, he’d change his mind!
He started going to physical training at the recruiting office every day with his friend.
One thing I’ve learned is that when you tell people that your kid wants to join the military, they tell you that you should be proud! How brave! SUPPORT THAT BRAVE SON OF YOURS! The truth is that was not my first reaction. My first reaction was “No. Not my son. Never my son.”
Over time, it became clear to me that my son wasn’t going to change his mind. In fact, he became more sure with each passing day. We had many conversations about why he wanted this for his life. He articulated “why” in a thoughtful, intelligent manner. After one particularly intense conversation, I decided that I would stop saying “not my son!” and support the hell out of him.
Earlier this month, he went to LA for two days to go to MEPS. He passed his test and the physical. He was sworn in as a Marine Reserves recruit. He’s just waiting for an official ship out date for boot camp. Yesterday, he was told it’s very likely that date will be March 19th. (But possibly as late as August.)
So, how am I feeling about his decision at this very moment?
I’m a mixed bag of emotions. I feel proud– My son is courageous and brave. I feel nervous– My son will be away for 13 weeks at boot camp where he will be challenged physically, mentally and emotionally in ways that I can’t even begin to comprehend. I know he is strong and that he is smart, but I can’t help but worry about what he will go through during those 13 week. I feel sad, I feel excited, I feel unsure, I feel SO MANY THINGS.
The other night I was sitting on the couch with my husband watching TV. During a commercial, my husband turned to me and said “can you believe our son is going to be a Marine?” I could see that he had tears in his eyes. “STOP IT.” I said. “JUST STOP IT.” We both just sort of lost it. We started to cry and talk about how quickly our first little baby grew up and remember how we used to just hold him and look at him and be in awe of him and kiss his fat little cheeks and sing to him and rock him and just LOVE OUR SWEET LITTLE BABY?
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33650_480896426102_625381102_6585967_5420050_n.jpg
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That baby is all grown up now and in a few weeks, he will be a changed man. I am looking forward to the day I can say that I am The Proud Mom of a Marine.
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Sex and Blankets and Awkward Conversations With Teenagers.

As I began making my bed, my son Ethan walked into the room.
“Need some help, Mom?” He asked.
“Sure.” I responded.
He walked over to the other side of my bed and began to help me make the bed.
(Confession: I’ve had the same blanket on my bed for twenty years. I’ve purchased other blankets, but this particular blanket is amazing. My husband bought it in Tijuana just before we got married. It is ugly– it’s brown and has an image of a giant tiger on it (I KNOW, I KNOW. )–but it is soft, it’s warm, it’s basically the best blanket ever made.)
“I love this blanket, Mom!” Ethan said, as we straightened it out.
I then went on to tell the story about how old it is and how much I love it and how I’ve tried to part with it many times, but can’t seem to let it go.
“I plan on getting a new comforter soon and when I do, I will let you have it. Do you want it?”
“Yes!” He said, all excitedly.
Then he paused, his facial expression went from Pure Joy to Kind of Disgusted.
“Oh, maybe not. This is the blanket you and Dad have made love on for twenty years.”
“ETHAN MICHAEL!” I proclaimed, while not making eye contact.
“It’s true, Mom!” He said, as he laughed at my discomfort with the words he was saying.
In my mind, I was all “flip it around on him! Make HIM uncomfortable! Say something like ‘damn right! lots of Jesus Approved Sex has happened all up on that blanket!” But I just couldn’t do it.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about! You guys were all adopted!”
He laughed, rolled his eyes and walked out of the room to tell his brother about our conversation.
Talking about sex in general with my kids? Easy.
Admitting, discussing that I have sex with their dad? Not so much.

Graduation Night.

Last night was an amazing experience.
I expected to cry a lot. I expected to be an emotional wreck. And sure enough, as soon as we pulled into the stadium parking lot, I began to cry. “I can’t believe this is happening.” I said. “Are you crying already, Mom?” My Ethan asked, in a Very Annoyed Tone.
We got out of the car and grabbed our things while Andrew adjusted his tie and put on his cap and gown. I watched him as he made sure everything looked just right. I hugged him before we left to get in line. “Enjoy yourself, Son. Cherish this moment.”
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When we entered the stadium, I grabbed a bunch of tissue and stuffed it in my purse. I wanted to be properly prepared for The Ugly Cry.
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The proud parents, patiently waiting for the ceremony to start.
The ceremony started. I waited to see my son walking to his seat. “There he is!” I shouted. We all started screaming his name. “Andrew! ANDREW!” We waved and waited for him to look our way. (He never looked our way.)
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I didn’t cry.
I asked my mother in law if I could borrow her binoculars so I could watch him as we waited for everyone to be seated. I wanted to see his face. I found him in the crowd. He had the biggest smile on his face which was exactly what I was hoping to see. I felt overwhelmed with pride.
I didn’t cry.
The ceremony started. The principal spoke. The kids cheered. One of the students gave her speech. The kids cheered. Then, they said they were going to begin announcing the names of the graduates. Everyone cheered.
I didn’t cry.
I waited patiently while they called names. When it was time for my son’s row to stand up, I ran downstairs to get a better view for a photo. I saw him in line. I screamed his name, jumped up and down and waved. He saw me, smiled as big as he ever has and waved back.
I didn’t cry.
The women with the microphone in her hand announced his name. I zoomed in and took a shot of his sweet face. I screamed his name. “Andrew! ANDREW! ANNNNDREW!” I wanted him to look my way, I wanted him to wave so I could get a shot of how proud he was. I screamed some more. He never did look my way.
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I didn’t cry.
The kids turned their tassels, threw their hats in the air while we clapped and cheered wildly for our boy. I watched and laughed as the graduates went crazy on the field. I thought back to the day I graduated– it was the most thrilling moment in my life. I felt so blessed to be there watching my son experiencing that milestone in his life.
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I didn’t cry.
Today, as I reflect on last night, I feel incredibly proud of my son. He had some struggles during his high school journey and there were times I didn’t think he was going to make it. But he pulled through in a big way and HE DID IT.
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This morning, I asked him how he felt the day after graduation.
“I feel good.”
“Are you proud of yourself?”
“Yeah, I am, Mom.” He smiled.
“You should be, son. You worked hard and I’m proud of you.” I replied.
“Thanks, Mom.”
I walked out of his room. Closed the door, went into the bathroom, took a deep breath.
And then, I cried.

This is Happening Today

I opened his closet, looking for his cap and gown. That’s where he told me he had put it.
It wasn’t there.
I searched through each piece of clothing hanging up. It wasn’t there.
I looked through the clothes piled on the closet floor.
It wasn’t there.
My heart started to pound. I started to panic.
I sent him a text message.
“Where is your cap and gown? It’s not in your closet!”
He replied right away.
“No, it’s hanging up on my guitar hook.”
In my panic, I hadn’t even noticed it hanging on his wall, right next to his bed.
I looked at it, hanging there, imagining him wearing it.
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Tears started flowing and they have yet to cease falling from my eyes.
I will get through this. It will be exciting and I will be so proud.
I am so proud.

The Senior

In just nineteen days, my first born son will graduate from high school.
(If he passes English, but that’s another story for another day OH MY GOD THE STRESS.)
I am in awe of how quickly the years have passed and how quickly the day is drawing near. I have nineteen days to create a scrapbook that will tell the story of eighteen of the most wonderful years of my life with that boy, that young man.. Nineteen more days to prepare myself both emotionally and mentally for the moment when they call my son’s name and he walks across that stage to receive his high school diploma. I imagine I’ll stand up and scream something like “SO PROUD OF YOU, ANDREW!”. And then I’ll sit down and burst into tears of joy. Tears of Sadness. Tears of relief.
Nineteen more days.
When people tell you to cherish each moment with your children because “they grow up so fast!”
Believe them.
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