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This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
Son leaving for Army bootcamp
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naggingwife74 posted:
This isn't really a couples problem although there are a few relationship issues that will be mentioned so I am posting here. Also, cuz I like you guys!

My son leaves in a little over a week for Army bootcamp. He is moving to the other side of the U.S. This is his first time being away from home or on his own and I am terrified. There has been this feeling of emptyness and almost desperation on my part for the last month or so. It hit me really hard last week at his highschool graduation.

I can't even begin to tell you all of the things that I worry about but they aren't the things you might think, like war or death. It is more like, I hate thinking of him being lonely or scared. What if he gets dehydrated while running in the summer (he would get dehydrated playing baseball) I hate thinking of my 4 year old missing him, you know, motherly things.

It's also hard because he is not excited about this. He is nervous and scared but there is no excitement. He says he is doing this because he does not want to go to college and he doesn't want a min. wage job, he wants more. A part of me feels like I am sending him off to jail because he seems to have very little interest in where he is going. Maybe the fear has taken over for him and the excitement will come once he is there and settled, I hope??!!

It's hard to watch your son turn 18, a month later graduate high school then a couple weeks later leave for the Army. He still seems like my baby to me, there is no way he is old enough for this! Where did the time go????

So with all of this emotion that I am feeling I am having a hard time coping with my day to day activities. I cry at work, at night, in the morning, pretty much anytime I have a few minutes to think, I cry. I do know all of the positives that this will bring into his life. I am very proud of him and think this will be a great experience in his life but it is hard to focus on those things sometimes. I know there is someone on this board that was dealing with the first year of her son being gone in the military last year. So how do you cope? Anyone have any words of wisdom?



As far as my relationship, my dbf has been great through this depression of mine. He is very supportive and understanding, partly because he is also very sad about him leaving. But, this has affected our sex life. I have a really hard time feeling anything sexual because my mind is on my son constantly. It is hard to engage in sex when you are thinking about your kids! My sex drive is pretty much dead right now and I can't quite figure out why. The only thing I can think of is the stress and emotions I am dealing with.

Thank you for reading this. I had to get some of this emotion off of my chest because I was having a hard time breathing! So, if anyone has any tips or ideas on how to stop dwelling on the sadness and make this an exciting time, that would be so helpful and appriciated!
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3point14 responded:
((hug)) I have no real advice. But I think your son's doing a great thing, and his reason would (to me) be almost more admirable than some bright-eyed thoughts of changing the world. He'll probably have an easier time adjusting to the army because he sees it for what it is, a job, and not as some Personal Mission. I think once he gets there and acclimates to the changes, he'll probably really enjoy the freedom.

Could it be that he's picking up on your depression over it and doesn't want to seem too excited? Not to be a jerk, but maybe if you were able to be more sincerely excited for him he'd be able to be a little bit more excited and not feel bad that his choices are making his Mom cry all the time.

In terms of the sex aspects between you and the dbf,you know it's the stress that's killing you. Maybe see a counselor to discuss your (extremely normal and very sweet) worries for your son. Having someone to vent to might help, and while it wouldn't totally alleviate your concern, get it down to a more manageable level. Do you know any other Moms of Army guys? Do you know any Moms whose kids are going away to college? One of my friends Moms started a "support group" a few years back for the neighborhood Moms as we kids all grew up. Maybe do something like that so your fears seem less overwhelming.

I don't know, I don't have any kids so I have really no idea what you're going through. I think it's great that you're concerned, but there's nothing you can do about the path he's taking in life but encourage him and love him. You're a good Mama, Nagging. Try not to get too overwhelmed.
 
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naggingwife74 replied to 3point14's response:
Thank you for your sweetness! I think you might have a good point. He does see how sad I am and I do think it affects him, I actually think it has made him sad about leaving home when a month ago he was ready to leave home. I keep asking him if he is sure this is what he wants to do. I do that because before he gets sworn in, I want to make sure he is doing this for him, not because I made the suggestion. (yes, I suggested military when he said no to college. Stupid, stupid mother) Maybe by me doing that I am making him think it is the wrong choice. I am going to have to talk to him tonight and let him know how proud of him I am and how I think this is the greatest thing he could be doing. Even with all the crying, I really do think this is the right path for him, I think he made a great choice for his future.

I do agree that once he gets there he will enjoy the freedom that he has, once he gets out of bootcamp. I feel that I have prepared him for the life of an Army man because I have never been one to sit back and let him do whatever he wanted. So, in some ways, he has lived with a drill instructor for a long time!

I like the idea of starting or finding some kind of support group. I would like to do that but will probably wait until after he leaves, right now I am just way too emotional. Someone might cry about what they are feeling or scared of then I will take that fear on too!

You don't have to have kids to understand the pain of letting go. I don't think there is any love greater then the love for your kids but that's because I have kids. Just think of one person you love more then yourself, then think of them moving away and you having limited contact with them. But that person is someone that you want to have in the center of your life for the rest of your life. That is what it feels like to send your son to bootcamp! Yep, I am a little emotional!
 
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cjh1203 replied to naggingwife74's response:
Nagging, I don't really have anything to add to Pi's excellent post, but wanted to let you know I'm sorry you're facing this sort of wrenching separation from your son.

This is a big transition for both of you, but getting used to it may not take as long as you might think -- for both of you. I'm sure you'll always miss him, but once you know he's settled in and doing OK, it will become a normal part of your lives and your anxiety will probably lessen. When that happens, the sex aspect of your relationship should resolve itself.

Best wishes to both of you. I'm sure it's going to be a rough couple of weeks.
 
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Foreverinyoureyes2 responded:
Nagging,

I read your post and then I had to walk away, because I can SO relate because I know myself well enough to know that I would feel the exact same way. But I had to at least offer my support, for that exact same reason.

My 14 y/o went on his 8th grade trip to Washington D.C 2 weeks ago, and I had some very similar emotions. (I do not want to compare the 2 things like they are apples to apples, because he was gone for 3 days.) But none of his 'real' friends were going on the trip, so I was so worried that he would be lonely, or uncomfortable and I would not be there to 'fix' it.

I knew it was extremely important for his strength of character to go on this trip, somewhat outside of his comfort zone so that he would see that he had the ability to be 'ok', but when I left him at the airport I was sweating it big time. There was a part of me that wished he would just say, "Forget it Mom, I changed my mind, take me home." If he had, I fear I would have been like, "Screw the $1500 bucks I paid for this trip." And would have taken him home with me!

It ended up being good for both of us. He was FINE. He was better than fine. He ended up getting a lot more out of the trip because he wasn't with his posse, and he made new friends.

But I feel ya on wanting to protect them from everything. But putting them in a bubble might appeal to us on one level, but If I did that, then I would not have gotten to experience the pride that I felt in him for doing what he did.

Your son is doing a wonderful thing. This experience will give you lots of opportunities to be proud of him, and more importantly, lots to be proud of himself.

With all of that said, please just know that mommy to mommy, my heart breaks for you because even if it is a good thing, it still has to be one of the hardest changes you will ever face, and I wish I could just give you a big hug and let your laugh, cry or both on my shoulder.

In regards to the sexual strain I get that too. Whenever anything is going on with one of my kids it is such a quandry because I crave the intimacy and connection of sex because it makes me feel good and can relax me, but I have a terrible time shutting my brain down, so we have been gearing up for some passion and all it takes is for me to think one of the kids names if I am worried about them, and its akin to the proverbial cold shower. I shut down. Not intentionally, it just happens.

Be patient with yourself, as it appears that your dbf is. Those lovin' feelings will come back when your son gets settled and you hear his voice and figure out that he really and truly is ok.

Keep us posted my friend. I will be thinking of you and sending all of my good karma to your son and wishing him the very best as he starts his journey.
 
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BalconyBelle replied to Foreverinyoureyes2's response:
Something else to consider---you can still send snail mail. After their initial week in basic, things start to settle down, become routine, and you can get mail to him. Depending on the base he's being trained at, email & internet usage are very hotly contested and rare commodities, but snail mail will get through just fine.

Make sure you remind him to send you his barracks assignment & address as soon as he knows what it is. It will be a pretty long address, but the military's really good at making sure mail gets to the intended recipent. My sister sent tons of letters to her husband when he went to basic, and even more when he was deployed--not one of them was ever lost.
 
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stephs_3_kidz replied to BalconyBelle's response:
I agree with BalconyBelle. I have ALL the letters my brother sent to me during his BCT, Airborne school, and all his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. We did lose some letters when the war first started in 2003 but after that things were back to normal re:mail.

I do completely understand your fears about him leaving. My brother joined the Army in 2001 after 9/11. He DID have those "bright-eyed thoughts of changing the world" and he DID have a Personal Mission--come on Pi, really??? and he was NO less admirable for that. He was very brave to join when he did, and he's fought through 4 deployments and been injured in combat TWICE so please don't cheapen that.

But I digress.

He joined about 16 months after my dad died and it was just so hard. We didn't see him from January to the middle of May. Then he got transferred to Ft Bragg and in Feb 2003 he was deployed to Kuwait/Iraq.

I don't think I've ever in my life felt that kind of fear. He is my only brother, I babysat him from the time I was 10, so I always felt more like a mother to him. When he first joined I was angry, then just scared and worried about what his future might hold.

That was 9 years ago, and he's halfway to retirement. Things will be ok. BCT is not easy, they have drill sergeants up their craws 24/7. They will be yelled at, screamed at, and put through pure physical hell but above all the Army protects its own. Any time my brother was sick or injured even in BCT they took care of him and didn't let him go back out until he was cleared to do so.
 
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3point14 replied to stephs_3_kidz's response:
Uh, yes really. In the context of this dialogue, someone going into the military because of tangible reasons, seeing it in a more realistic way, is going to have an easier time of getting used to it.

Factually, those that are less invested in the "mission" aspect of any kind of warzone are less likely to suffer PTSD, and are more likely to sign up for future deployments. Those that see the military as a job are more likely to continue their job than to be mentally or emotionally crushed, and because of the way I am, any kind of mental self defense someone can give themselves in a warzone is something I find admirable. As a pacifist, I find it appalling that the killing of other people is seen as a personal mission to anyone, and I guess I don't understand how anyone could look forward to it as a fulfilment of a life goal.

I'm not trying to cheapen what anyone does, and I'm aware that the way the world is set up, war is necessary. I'm also aware of losing a friend of mine in the Army, he also signed up because of September 11th, and I'd never want to cheapen that. I just don't think the desire to kill other people is very admirable.
 
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naggingwife74 responded:
Thank you, each of you, for your replies.

Forever, you made such a good point about letting him go without me (like going with me was a choice! It's not, I checked!) so he can see what he is capable of. He will have something so huge that he can be proud of in his life. I want that for him, I want him to be able to know that he changed his life on his own and he is strong enough to do that.

He is going into the Army as an EOD specialist, that stands for Explosive Oordinance Disposal. His job may contribute to my panic. But, for this job he had to pass FBI clearance and he is really excited that. Once he gets through basic and his training he will have the clearance to stand next to the President of the U.S., that was pretty exciting for him. He will be trained on building and disarming bombs, hence my fear and emotions. I was hoping for some kind of computer programmer or something a little less exciting.

But, you are all right, I will get use to the idea of where he is and what he is doing. I will send lots of letters and pictures so he can watch his sister and brother grow. When his 4 years are up he will come home (if that's what he chooses) the same year his brother will start kindergarden! I will be packing care packages and spending millions in postage I am sure.

All I have to do is figure out how to not walk by his bedroom for a few months and how to not let that empty chair at the dinner table make my heart sink.
 
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stephs_3_kidz replied to 3point14's response:
If you think joining the Army because of wanting to serve and protect your country is because someone has a flat-out desire to KILL other people, you are so dead wrong. My brother saw it as a way to stand up and say, "I'll risk my life to protect yours."

Now, if and until any of us here make that sacrifie, I say we keep our lips shut and respect those who are brave enough to do what we'd never do. Just because you don't understand it, doesn't mean it's not necessary or admirable.
 
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3point14 replied to stephs_3_kidz's response:
Aren't they fighting so I have the right not to shut my lips?

I wasn't referring to your brother when I typed what I did. And I really don't think this is the appropriate venue to debate this subject. I meant merely to show Nagging that what her son is doing is no less admirable than those that go in for reasons more like your brothers. People who join the military because it's a job tend to get less respect because for them it's not some idealized experience, and I was intending to merely show my personal opinion and support.
 
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stephs_3_kidz replied to 3point14's response:
yeah, they are fighting so you have the right not to shut your lips, and so I have the right not to shut mine as well.

I am not particularly interested in how appropriate you think it is to debate the subject here, as I feel you already opened that door when you chose to let everyone know how you feel about war and the military.

FTR, I have never heard my brother or any of his many friends in the Army say that they can't wait to deploy and shoot/kill people. They see the Army as their job, and protecting their country as their mission.

Maybe you'd feel differently if we didn't have a military to defend our freedoms. Maybe you'd wish there WAS somebody willing to go kill the people who choose to come after our nation.
 
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naggingwife74 responded:
Just want to say thanks again for the SUPPORT that has been offered to my post. I debated posting this because I do know there are different feelings and views about military and war but I am glad that I did post. I got a lot of great support from people that I really have come to respect.

The last thing I want this to turn into is a discussion about shooting and killing people. That is the last thought that I want to put in my mind that is already full of fear and sadness.

Maybe we can just agree to desagree about this particular subject?

Again, the support and intent of the support posts was received and appriciated!
 
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3point14 replied to stephs_3_kidz's response:
I'm not asking you to shut up. I'm sorry my opinion offended you so much, I meant no disrespect to you nor your family.
 
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stephs_3_kidz replied to 3point14's response:
If I took what you said the wrong way, I apologize as well.

I guess I am overly sensitive to the subject, as my brother (and a lot of his friends) have received a lot of criticism for being in the military and being at war.

nagging, I apologize for running off with your thread. Just know that there are many, many Americans who realize just exactly what our military sacrifices on a daily basis to protect us. They have to go where they're told, do what they're told, and think what they're told to think. That's something that many people (including myself) just couldn't commit to, and it takes a special kind of person to commit themselves to a military life.


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