The perspective of a mother is often much different from that of a dad, even after children are wonderfully capable adults. Dad looks at his son and sees a grown man who deserves his respect and it often ends there. But a mother sees more when she looks at her children. Simultaneously she sees all the stages of her adult childrens' lives when she looks at them. It flashes like a storyboard across her memory with vivid snippets, sweet memories and challenges that have led to the current moment. The mother of a solder comes to the same conclusion as the dad's. Her son or daughter deserves her respect and honor.
The recent news on the war front had not been good and we had been waiting for more than a week for word from our son. And finally, the phone rang and it was the voice I longed to hear. As usual, his first words were, "Hey Mom. What's up?" We talked for over 30 minutes with me leaning into the phone reaching out to hold on to every breath, word, pause or inflection that comes from him. The static is frustrating and the connection weak, and I push the phone harder into my ear as if that will somehow keep me from missing something precious.
I know better than to ask the questions I so desperately want to ask. I measure my words when we talk, so fearful of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I find myself repeating, "I love you. I'm praying. We are all praying. You are brave and you are wise. I'm ready for you to come home." His dad isn't home and he's going to regret he missed this call. Our son talks and I mostly listen. Then I hear the back door open and familiar steps come my way. Our son needs his dad too and the connection is too weak for us to use two phones. They talk for another 30 minutes and then it is time for him to go
I look at his dad who smiles weakly and says, "I'm so glad he called. It is such a relief to hear his voice." I lean my body into his and the tears run freely in warm familiar arms but my heart is stuck right now...on the muddy and dangerous roads of Afghanistan. The warrior child is a soldier... well trained, wise beyond his years, physically fit and alert. The fat baby legs that went from crawling to running in a split second 25 years ago ... those toddler legs that rolled his mother down an embankment in a public park, head over heels dressed in a skirt ... those strong legs now wear the boots of a man with men of his own to train and protect.
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pictures and text copyright Janice E. Gray 2013