Our youngest son, Steven, left on Monday for Marine Corps boot camp. His recruiter picked him up at 3am and then proceeded to pick up all the other guys before heading to Los Angeles for “processing.” My parents, my sister, Sandi, and Steven’s girlfriend, Kelsey, all were present for the swearing in and to say a final goodbye to him. I wish more than anything that I could have been there. however, my sister took some photos for me.
Am I a crying mess? Well, I think I would be if I was not in Africa. However, if there’s one thing i’ve learned living in a house full of boys, it’s that they are uncomfortable with tears. So, I do my best to contain them til I have a private moment. Even then, I find myself analyzing my tears, trying to make sure that they are not selfish tears but truly tears of sadness or grief or a valid emotion that doesn’t include even a tiny bit of self-pity. So far my tears have been proud tears as I believe Steven has an uncommon valor in making this choice in these uncertain days of war and rumors of war. My tears have been tears of love & affection as I reminisce about the past 19 years of steven’s life and the time that God allowed us to raise him, nurture him, watch him mature and become a man after God’s own heart, a leader, a compassionate, kind-hearted, driven, lovable, verbally gifted, masterful communicator who can make me laugh just about any time he tries to! My tears have been sad tears as I recognize that Steven will most likely not ever live in our home again except as a guest. I will miss him a lot. My tears have been mostly unshed because, truly, they would accomplish no good and, well, tears in Burundi are extra-salty when mixed with the gallons of sweat pouring off your face, stinging your eyes!
Am I surprised that he has joined the Marines? Well, somewhat. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned living in a house full of boys, it’s that they love to play tough. They are competitive. They all jockey for alpha male. They are competitive. They fight and wrestle and have wars of words and they punch each other and she-doink each other and pester each other to death. So, I shouldn’t be surprised that Steven would be attracted to an all-male, boisterous, goal-focused, leadership-oriented environment. I guess I am surprised that it happened so quickly after he moved to California. I’m surprised that he began boot camp in May while we are in Africa. I am surprised at the depth of emotion that his decision has evoked not only from me but from family and friends.
Am I just counting the days 'til his 6 yr commitment is up? Well, I'm tempted to. However, there’s one thing I’ve learned living in a house of boys, it’s that they need their mom around but they don’t want to be hovered over, babied, controlled, pitied, patronized, held too close or kissed after I’ve just put on lipstick or told to be sure and wear sunblock at boot camp (“uh, yeah mom, I’m sure that request will go over really big with the boot camp instructors”). I am counting the days 'til I can see him again after boot camp. Then I will count the days 'til I see him again after weapons training. Then I will count the days 'til I see him after his job-training. By then it will be Christmas and hopefully we will all be together to celebrate and to cherish the time we have together. Six years is way off in the distance. So much will happen between now and then. We've got a lot of living to cram in to the next 6 years. It is always best to live in the present, trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness for the future, and press on with faith and hope, courage and anticipation, love and peace for the days ahead.