Anyone remember this post? If you've been here long enough, you may. If you don't remember it, you can read it now. Go ahead. I'll wait. But you may want a tissue.
We have children, most of us, for noble purpose. Or by accident. Or maybe a little of both. Or even none of the above.
I had mine, both of them, by a direct act of God. I know this because I had been labeled infertile at a fairly early age - long before I was really ready to have children, actually. I married young and my (then) husband and I were waiting to adopt. Never mind that I was 18 and he was 23. I knew I wanted babies. In fact, I wanted a whole farm house stuffed full of them. Millions. Or at least a dozen. And since having them on my own wasn't likely, adopting was the way we were going.
The week before Christmas 1985 I sat crying over ceramic ornaments I had painted by hand, ornaments I knew I'd never hang with a baby born of my own womb. I tried to make peace with that. When my cousins announced that they were pregnant, all I could do was cry. I cried a lot. In fact, I cried constantly. And sometimes I felt pretty nauseous. Really nauseous. And I almost passed out at work once. Or maybe twice. But it was hot in there. And then...well, and then in the normal manner of womanhood it came upon me that I might be, just might be, pregnant. And I was. And I was joyful. I quit smoking. I drank milk. I hate milk.
It wasn't easy, but then nothing worth having ever is. The baby made a few early attempts at departure. I spent a lot of time trying to lie down and trying not to do things like move refrigerators (I saved that for my second pregnancy - and almost lost that baby in the process - but if you know me, you know that sitting still and waiting for help is not on the menu). By December 1986 I was proudly carting around this beautiful, amazing, shining baby boy. You'll have to either read that post I linked to up there or take my word for it, because I am not in a place where I can get baby pictures right now. Trust me. I make amazing babies. The kind that go right to your heart the first time you look at them. And they stay there.
I am not at home today. In fact, I am a few hundred miles from home, spending my first ever holiday away from my (now) husband, waiting patiently for tomorrow.
Tomorrow the indigestion I had on a warm and stormy August night in 1986, the stomach ache I have carried since 1986, the one that wormed it's way into every thread of my life is going to graduate from basic training. Army basic training. He's giving 8 years of his life. For me, and for his daughter and his fiancee and for us all. He's one of thousands. Tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands. All of them nothing like each other in most ways, but all alike in one. They're willing to put their lives on the line - not an imaginary line, but a real one.
I don't know how, and he keeps saying it was me that did it (and I swear I am not paying him), but somehow I reared a soldier. For now this is what I have of him:
That is my son. Goofy weird grin, chowing down on government-issue turkey. Tomorrow when he graduates I'll have more. And for 24 hours I'll take all the pictures I can, but it won't ever be enough. I don't know where he goes from here (Ok, fine, I do. AIT in Virginia. But then, well, then I really don't know, and neither does he), but here's what I do know.
Somewhere today a soldier died. Maybe of old age or maybe of a gunshot or maybe s/he got blown up by a bad guy. And sometime before today that soldier had a mother, and that mother is now me. And if you think the first 24 years of indigestion were rough, try that on for size.
So what am I thankful for? On this day, and the next day, and the day after that, ad infinitum? I am thankful for indigestion. And the tens of thousands of indigestions that came before him, and the tens of thousands that will come after.
I don't get political here. It's a matter of conscience. How you or I vote, what we believe, how we feel about war or peace or anything in between. I don't go there.
But right now, right this minute, I am going to tell you something. I am going to go so far as to tell you what to think. And here goes.
You damn well better be thankful too. And if you aren't? You might not want to say it in front of me. Because while you debate your politics, and your yes or no to war and yes or no to troops here, there or anywhere, my kid - MY kid - and tens of thousands of other woman's kids - are standing by someplace willing to take a bullet because their nation and their president tell them they need them to. Get off your horse, high or otherwise, and the next time you see someone in uniform you remember this post. You remember that for every American in uniform there's a mother.
Now do what your mother said you should, and say thank you.