I thought that having three boys age 5 and younger at the same time would be the toughest parenting could possibly get.
I was wrong.
I lived through colic, a broken arm, a broken leg, broken toes, broken hearts, falls from treehouses, slides down the stairs and command performances with irrate teachers. Shouldn’t I get some sort of combat pay just for cleaning an all-boy bathroom?
I think we might have single-handedly paid for a vacation home for our insurance agent once the boys started driving.
And still, that wasn’t the toughest part.
When your children are small, you can swoop in and save them -- or do your best. You can cheer them up after a rough day, give them a pep talk and a good-night kiss, find out about their day over dinner. When they are teens, you can look at them and tell if they’re down or happy, ducking their homework or last-minute cramming, falling in love or scrambling for a prom date.
But after they leave home, headed to college, new apartments or jobs in other states, you don’t have that daily contact with them. You can’t tell how they’re doing as well over the phone. You can’t swoop in and make it better. (You also don’t know what time -- and what condition -- they come home at night, which can be a blessing.)
And that’s the way it’s supposed to be, I guess. Kids grow up, go off on their own and make new -- and hopefully -- happy, productive lives.
When your son or daughter is in the military, though, there’s an extra worry. Just because they complete basic training and the government gives them a gun and teaches them how to survive in a war zone doesn’t mean that they stop being your child, the little boy or girl that you rocked to sleep and wiped their tears when they took a tumble.
Being a military parent is different from when you child goes to college or moves to take a job, I have learned. The military can ship your child to another part of the world at any time, and they might not be coming home for a year or two. When a child is in basic training, they don’t get to call home for Mother’s Day or even Christmas. When they are deployed, they might not even be able to contact you via Facebook or a text for days, weeks or months.
And there’s the possibility that they could be hurt. Or worse.
Sara Medina got to call her mom on Mother’s Day this year. Days later, the 23-year-old combat photographer died along with five other Marines in a helicopter crash in Nepal.
Military parents know that there are worse things than cleaning up the remains of a food fight, changing dirty diapers and staying up all night with a procastinating kid with a overdue project.
On Monday, take a minute to remember all the members of the military who won’t be home this year, their moms, dads, wives and children, and all of those who won’t ever come home.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451