A Momma’s Goodbye ~ Air Force Version

The morning sun glinted through the window shades announcing a new day. This was no ordinary day, however. This was the day I was to say goodbye to my middle son, as he was leaving for Air Force boot camp.

Photo by Mandy Ford Photography

Photo by Mandy Ford Photography

I have been in this situation before. (Read about that here.) I am an expert at saying goodbye so this should have been just another one in a long line of goodbyes. Goodbyes to my husband for deployments, goodbyes to him geo-baching 2,000 miles away from us, goodbyes to my oldest leaving for boot camp and goodbye to him heading to his first duty station an ocean away. It should have been easy, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Saying goodbye to my adult children is one of the most confusing feelings I’ve had as a parent. There is a strong combination of sadness that your baby is leaving mixed with tremendous pride in their decisions and happy expectations for their future. I’m so excited for him, but that doesn’t make me miss him any less.

Brock was always my buddy. I have many memories of him as excited as I was to hop on our horses and go team roping together. The countless hours I spent watching him play football, baseball and wrestle. This last summer he played softball with my husband and I. He invited me to go running with him many early summer mornings and we just hung out. I always knew if I wasn’t seeing him enough, I just needed to make dinner or invite him to go out to eat because he never turned down a meal.  He is a happy-go-lucky guy most of the time with a big smile on his face and always a twinkle of mischief in his gorgeous green eyes. (I can get away saying that since I’m mom haha.)

Photo by Mandy Ford Photography

Photo by Mandy Ford Photography

The anticipation of him leaving was probably one of the most difficult parts of this summer. This time around, I knew what to expect so it wasn’t a new experience. I knew saying goodbye to your child is a different sadness than saying goodbye to a spouse for deployment. When a spouse is leaving, it’s goodbye for a while, but there is finality to saying goodbye to your child. It’s not just a physical goodbye but also an end to their childhood and that constant feeling of being needed.

Brock was the first of his group to leave so the night before many of his friends gathered around our house for a farewell barbecue (and to help shave Brock’s head for boot camp). It was an honor to get to witness their excitement with each other, sitting around the fire pit reliving their many adventures from the high school years and their own anticipation of the future. They are a great group of now young adults, and ones I will miss walking through my front door on a daily basis.

The morning of also happened to be the first day of school. Being a teacher, there was no way I could miss school to drop Brock off. We had a long hug goodbye as I tried unsuccessfully to keep the tears in check and then I had to go to school. My husband had the equally difficult job of dropping Brock off at the recruiter’s. I spent the day with my new class, trying not to think of my son’s departure and keep the tears in check. It was a tough week, that unwelcome sting in my eyes appearing when least invited, but it gets a little easier each day.

He’s been gone two weeks already, but we still haven’t been able to talk to him. I’m sure he’s doing an amazing job at this, as he has with everything he’s set his mind to. My phone is glued to me, just as it was during every deployment and when his brother left, as anyone with military experience understands. I can’t wait for that first phone call in his new position of a grown ass man.

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