I Dedicate This To

All Mothers Who Have Children in the Armed Forces

Whether you realize it or not you are serving your country in
the most significant manner any human can.

You are offering up your child. There is no greater sacrifice. 

I have never had to do that but I wanted to tell you a personal story which, although certainly not on the same level as your sacrifice, is nevertheless  something which you may help you deal with this.
I was a single mother of one son. Like most lionesses I did every thing in my power to make sure he was always out of harms way. I was the mother they tell jokes about. You know, the one that hid behind bushes to make sure her child made it to school safely. Nothing and no one would ever hurt my son in any way and God help anyone who even thought about it. Somehow I would know. My mothers instinct would set off alarms and I would hunt you down like prey for a starving tiger. You get the picture.
The time came of course  when despite all my plans for him, he defied me and started growing up.  My days of hiding behind bushes pretty much came to an end.  He started high school and would have killed me if he ever saw me within 100 feet of the school unless it was on Parents Night.
One day he came running in all excited, jumping up and down, his face flushed.  He proudly announced that he was going to play football for his high school.  I have never seen him so ecstatic.  He wasn't a big kid. As a matter of fact next to some of the monsters in that high school he would be considered small.  He played hockey for a number of years but he was definitely not a jock like some of the kids on the team. I suspected the only reason he tried out for football was to get to know the cheer leaders. He had a small frame but he was wiry and fast so maybe the coach thought his speed would make up for his size.  I wish he had asked my opinion but he didn't.  Trying not to show the extent of my concern I calmly asked if he considered that he might get hurt.

"Nah, it will be o.k. except for my fingers. Boy that hurts when you hit the ground! Lots of the guys break their fingers I heard"  

Terrific, that was one injury I hadn't even thought of
Laying in bed that night I couldn't sleep. I kept picturing my son being tackled on a hard cold field and carried off on a stretcher or coming home with both hands in casts up to his elbows. I  had been  through enough heart stopping games when he played hockey and now this.  For some unknown reason I had in my mind that he could be more seriously injured playing football than he could playing hockey. Mind you when hockey season started I am sure I would reverse that conclusion in my mind.  I kept my concerns to myself but I can tell you it bothered me. Football games usually took place in the afternoon and since I worked full time I would never be there to watch him. That was probably best for me anyway. I don't think I could have stood silently watching him get crushed by 2000 pounds of teenagers falling on top of him.
A couple weeks after his announcement he brought his uniform home to show me.  He was so proud. He went into the bedroom, got changed and came bouncing out wearing this big oversized grass stained shirt and skimpy looking pants.  He thought since I couldn't be there to watch I would enjoy seeing how he looked decked in his football duds. 

Great, so now when I pictured him being carried out on a stretcher or his hands in casts I would have a more accurate vision of him in his uniform.

Since the uniforms were the property of the school, they were passed along from one kid to another. It needed a good cleaning. I told him to leave it out and I would wash it.  I wanted him to at least look clean when he was carted off. 

After he went to bed I took a closer look at this uniform.  Boy that material wasn't very thick. How in the world is he going to escape being skinned alive. I know they wear equipment but still you would think they could make the material heavier for some added protection when they slide and bounce all over. Didn't anyone know about grass burns? 

I washed it that night and as I removed it from the dryer I happened to notice the seams on the pants. They were doubled over. I guess that was done for strength. That meant there was a little channel along each seam which was about 1/2 inch wide.

I went into my jewellery box and rummaged around for a little silver
St. Christopher medal I found on the front lawn a couple of weeks before. I am not Catholic but I thought I remembered hearing St. Christopher helped keep people safe so I cleaned it up and put it away. 

I picked up the uniform pants and carefully sliced a tiny hole in one of the inside seams, slipped the St. Christopher medal inside and sewed it shut.  When I was finished I gave it a little kiss. There's a kiss to take with you and keep you safe I thought. At least if I can't be there you will have something to help protect you.

I folded the pants up and put them in my sons gym bag to take to school the next day. I never told him about my safety precaution.

For the first few weeks, on the days I knew there had been a game, on the way back from work I held my breath until I saw that he was at home in one piece and without casts.

I listened for the next little while to detailed descriptions of how the football games went.  According to my son, he was always instrumental in the winning games but the games lost by his school were ones he had been sitting out for.  

I started to relax.  After while I knew beyond a doubt that he was going to be o.k.  I knew that kiss from Mom was keeping him safe one way or the other.

Football season ended with nothing broken or sprained and hockey season started. It worked so well the first time I went and bought another St. Christopher medal and sewed it into his hockey shirt. He never knew.

It gave me such a feeling of security that although I was always concerned, I was never sick with worry as I had been in the beginning.

He grew out of hockey and football and his interests changed but he had never suffered any injury while he played contact sports.

That little St. Christopher medal remained in those football pants and I've often wondered if it continued circulating season after season carrying some other mothers kiss.
It doesn't matter whether our kids are playing outside when they are little or soldiers in a war, mothers worry about their children. We never totally escape the feeling that we are their protectors.

It just goes with the territory.

You are facing one of the greatest challenges in the life of a mother. You are going to be sending your child away from your protection.  Think about sending them off with your own special kiss to keep them safe. Mine just happened to be a little medal but it doesn't have to be. It can be anything that is close to your heart or significant to you in some way. No matter where they are, it will help you to know, they still have their mothers protection.

I guarantee it will give you some peace of mind until they are back home again.

God Bless all mothers of soldiers.
Lynn Perrier
© 2008

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