By Elaine Brye
I never thought I’d be a Marine mom. I expected our son to follow in our Air Force footsteps, but he had a different idea. Now 12 years and five deployments later, I can say with pride that I am an official Devil Dog momma. Whether your son or daughter surprised you or they had been planning this from birth, the prospect of watching your child become a Marine can be daunting.
You know that boot camp is going to be tough because that is what it takes to make a Marine. Oorah, Leathernecks, First to Fight, Jarhead, and most importantly Semper Fi–these terms are going to be part of your world… once your recruit has earned the right to wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor of the United States Marine Corps. But they–and you–must get through recruit training and the Crucible first.
There are lots of great resources that explain the weeks of training. Some of the it sounds downright scary, and contemplating what happens after boot camp (Marine Recruit Training, to be exact) is almost too much to bear.
Your son or daughter has followed a call to serve. They want to be their best and serve our nation. You should be very proud of that. But what now? How will you manage? Don’t worry about them. Their drill instructors will get them ready. I want to help you get ready with some emotional armor to prepare you to be a Marine Corps mom.
Let’s look at some principles of the Corps as you try to understand the process of turning civilians into Marines. I know they may still seem like your babies, but that all ends when they stand on the yellow footprints and start one of the most grueling challenges of their young lives.
Point of the spear
Your child is being trained to be a warfighter. Marines are the point of the spear. Since their inception, they have carried out over 300 landings on foreign shores. Every part of boot camp is designed to give them the skills to do their job and do it well.
While your role has been to protect them, and raise them to adulthood, now the Marines will take over. This can be a very difficult transition for a mom. You may find yourself questioning why it must be so hard. It all has a purpose.
Boot camp is going to challenge them in every way. They may be completely miserable. Keep reminding them that they can do it and why they chose to become a Marine. That drill instructor is not the enemy. He or she is teaching them so they can overcome our real enemies. You want them to be tested and tried so they learn to protect themselves and each other. Don’t get in the way by questioning or telling your son or daughter that boot camp is just too hard. You want it to be tough so they will be prepared. We do not know where or when they will be sent, but I can guarantee you they will be deployed somewhere. Having confidence in their training makes all the difference.
The few, the proud
The Marine Corps prides itself on a high caliber of Marines. They seek excellence. Your child chose this path because he or she wants to be one of the best. Honor that. Encourage them and don’t hold them back by telling them how sad you are that they are gone.
Of course, you miss them. Those first weeks of boot camp will feel like a black hole. But you need to learn to get by without communication for extended periods of time because that is what the future will hold for you and your child.
Support their training by following the rules. Your recruit is being taught discipline and integrity and to follow orders. You need to do the same by not sending contraband or criticizing their training. Look at this as an opportunity for the Marines to finish what you started by raising a young person of value.
This motto represents the dedication Marines have to the Corps, the country, and to their Marines. They are not only being taught skills, but they are learning the value of integrity, honor, and being a team. Nothing demonstrates this process better than the Crucible, something that can give moms nightmares.
Recruits are tested, physically, mentally, and morally over a 54-hour period. They experience sleep and food deprivation while overcoming multiple challenges. It is the culmination of all their efforts. But it will be a long couple of days for you as you wait to hear from them.
How do you cope? The same way your recruits do–through teamwork with other parents. As the weeks of boot camp drag on, you will connect with other parents. Your fellow Marine mom battle buddies will get you through this and bigger obstacles ahead.
The time will come when their skills may be tested on a real battlefield. You all will be ready. You have learned to have confidence in their abilities, can handle lack of communication, and to be proud of their service. That pride will get you through the difficult times because you raised a Unites States Marine. Oorah!