Letting go is hard for parents. It’s especially challenging when your child leaves for military service.
Since his birth, I saw or talked to my son daily. I cared for his needs, protected him, and guided him through life’s ups and downs. When I learned that he joined the Army, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t expect it and I wasn’t ready to let go. The start of our journey had a few rough spots, mostly because of me.
I tried to prepare as he left for Basic Combat Training. I’m sure I was annoying at times. I treated him like a baby as he trained to become a warrior and defender of freedom.
I worked on wrapping my mind around his new role. I failed to realize that I had a new role too. When he departed for his first duty station in Germany, the idea of “letting go” was much easier said than done.
In retrospect, I resisted letting go. Think about it: one day our children are a huge part of our daily lives and the next, they’re off on their own.
The secret to letting go
Kindergarten was the first milestone towards independence. I felt the pang of loss the moment he crossed the classroom threshold. My mind was a flurry of worry, always playing out that worst-case scenario.
We experience many “letting go” milestones as our children grow towards adulthood. As my child transformed from civilian to soldier, I needed to experience my own transformation. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by stress, I focused on the fact that I have a life and I needed to live it to the fullest.
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Letting go had everything to do with my changing role as a parent and the internal dialog I had with myself. Our children need to learn and thrive in their military life. We help them do that by embracing and moving through these changes.
Faith over fear
My internal dialog was full of fear. Playing out all the “what if” scenarios exhausted me. Trusting my child to make the right decisions in dangerous situations was my first hurdle.
Through lessons learned, my faith helped me overcome my fears. Faith comes in many forms. It can be faith in God and faith in my child’s abilities.
During my son’s first deployment, I held on tight, too terrified to let go. There was nothing I could do to take care of or protect my son. Nor could I spend each day in an emotional heap. What’s a military mom to do?
Let go and let God.
As you both begin this new season of life, learn to place your child in God’s loving hands. Raise your inner strength and resilience to better manage your daily emotions.
Replace fears with God’s peace.
Have faith in your child’s abilities. Over time, I realized that our service members make up the best trained military in the world. My confidence and trust in them gave me strength to stop hanging on so tight.
More faith — and less fear — can help lift the weight of worry.
You have a life
Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is YOU have a life. As your child works diligently on their future with the military, you need to work on yours. There will be many emotional ups and downs along the way, but always remember that you can forge your own life path. You are the only one that can do that for yourself.
It’s not easy when your child is deployed. But, take a breath and let joy into your heart. Let those sad moments be moments and then carry on with all the love and peace you deserve.
I did this for myself and my son. It wasn’t fair for me to burden him with my sadness because he was deployed. I needed to lift myself higher with strength and resilience. You can too!
Create and focus on realistic goals for your life. Every day, do something that is a step towards accomplishing your goals. Progress on things you can achieve will help you move forward.
Letting go is a good thing
Embrace your changing relationship with your child. Life is full of delightful surprises and you can experience an incredible, fulfilling journey. Give yourself permission to be angry or cry but keep moving forward. Set your sights on becoming the best version of yourself. You control your thoughts and emotions. You decide what type of military mom journey you’ll have.
The more you work on flowing through the changes, the easier it becomes to let go of your child to military service. As for me, my military mom journey has been an incredible experience. Even amid the ups and downs, I would do it all over again.
Read more from Sandboxx News:
- Military moms: America’s all too often forgotten heroes
- Defining your identity as a Military Spouse
- What I’ve learned from (two) military marriages that can help you with yours
- Women’s History Month 2021: A Look at Incredible Military Women
- Army Acronyms for Moms: Everything you need to know
Feature image: Army 1st Armored Divison Facebook.