Peacemonger Mom

My son just enlisted in the military. I'm a peace activist. Why couldn't he have rebelled in some other way, like being republican?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Clutching

Funny how we think that the worst thing that could possibly happen is “X” and then when X happens, well, it’s actually a little easier than we thought. I have spent the better part of The Boy’s training in training myself, training to live with the thought that he might actually be in Iraq, doing terrible things to stay alive, and possibly failing. Training is a good thing - good for me, good for him. Now that we know (or to rephrase, now that I know) for sure that he’s going to go overseas, I feel, oddly enough, a lot better. Not happier, really, but at least a little more settled. Now I know (even though others continue to repeat, at every opportunity, that this isn’t for sure, no one knows what will happen between now and his deployment date, all of which I reply with a “yes, yes you’re right, no telling, things can change” I know in my heart that he is going, and he will be gone for a year, and I will have to live with this) now I know this and can stop hoping (hope is wonderful, but it is dangerous too) that he will stay here, stay nearby, stay where I can enjoy him and he can be safe—now that I know this for sure, I feel more settled. Now I know what I’m up against, I understand it for what it is, and know that it can get worse, it can always get worse, but while I still hope that he stays safe, and does well, I no longer have to listen to that twittering voice of hope that he will stay here. That was a lie, a false hope, and even though seeing myself become more cynical (a task I truly thought was impossible) is disappointing to me, it is also something that is helpful. I sit in my Feminist Activism class and listen to the other students with their platitudes of change, and bridging, and hope, and I smile to myself, because it’s good to be hopeful, when you are young and haven’t had the hope slapped out of your hands, but there are some things that I just know better now than to hope for. Hope is nice, and hope is sweet, but hope is misplaced at times.

When I was married to The Boy’s father, ExH, I spent a lot of time being told of my failures, failings, and lacks. The prayer I prayed most often was that God make me a good wife and a good mother - something that I clearly could have saved my breath in praying, as there were much more complex issues at play than whether or not I was a good wife or mother. My hope was that I would become all the things that ExH wanted me to be, and of course, I failed (do we doubt that was the intended outcome all along? No, we do not. We are entirely too smart and too far through life to think that now). I remember reaching a point, though, where I decided that fighting him was simply no longer worthwhile. He wanted me to be thinner? I’d do everything I needed to do to lose weight. He wanted me to stop being so much smarter than he was? I’d keep my smarty ideas to myself. He wanted me to cook better, be a better wife, take care of things better? Okay. No problem. Tell me what you want, and I’ll do it. I wasn’t really a Stepford Wife, per se, but more a hopeless wife. All desire for self went out the window, and I threw in the towel.

Sound depressing? Yeah, I guess in a way it was pretty sad. That was likely one of the darker periods of my life. But how liberating it is to look down at your hands, clutching something as tightly as you can, clutching it within an inch of your life and its own, and see that no matter what you do, it’s going to slip through your fingers, like trying to hold on to an egg that has slipped from its shell . . . and then just let it go. I looked at my life, and saw that there was no point in continuing my clutch, and I let go. I saw what I perceived as hopelessness and I let all of the energy I had been devoting to fighting for what I wanted go - I just gave in and gave up. I came to understand that it was less hopelessness and more pragmatism, and although that was a time in which I was in pain, lonely and lost, I found that by letting it all go, I was suddenly much less tethered to the bad parts of my life. Letting it all go became one of the more liberating things I have done.

I can do nothing - NOTHING - about what happens to The Boy. When his plane touches down on foreign soil, it will be no different, really, than when he turned 18. I am his mom, and I love him, but the control I have over his life now is nil. (Honestly, it has been that way for some time, and I wish I had done things differently, but this is neither the time nor place for that, because hello, I am in a Starbucks, and no one wants to see weeping women drinking soy lattes on a sunny Saturday) It is impossible not to hope for a good outcome for him, and impossible not to hope that he stays right here in the states, but I am being a pragmatist, and I am not going to clutch that slippery egg so hard.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ballpoint Wren said...

My heart is with you! How hard it is to let go, especially when they're in harm's way.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I think "letting go" is the hardest thing in this life. My thoughts are with you, too.

5:39 AM  

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