Thursday, April 19, 2012

From Baby Booties to Yellow Footprints

Monday was a big day. Krystyne decided that she would enlist in the United States Marine Corps. To say we couldn't be more proud of her doesn't seem like enough.
She took her ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) last month and got her scores back a couple of weeks ago. She did pretty well. I've always talked to the girls about joining the military. I am not a big believer in parents paying for college. It's great if you can, but I think a higher education is a privilege.  If you want to go to college you're going to have to work for it. I've always stressed to my girls that if they want to go to college their best option was to join the military. If they join they go to school for "free". Yes, they have to work. Yes, they could potentially be put in some less than safe/ideal situations. But, the military will pay for your education as long as you are enlisted. I've explained that I would not be able or willing to pay for their college education. So, better to put on a uniform they can be proud of, go to work, and get your school paid for. It's either that or put on a McDonald's uniform, go to work, and hope you can pay for school. Even if they don't want to go to college join anyway. No one else is going to provide you with a job and  food and a place to live. It's a good option kid, and unless you can come up with something better ...
So after taking her ASVAB and getting the scores back we took a trip to the recruiters' office. We had talked about it for a long time and there really wasn't any preference from one branch to the other. Monday the Army guys had PT (physical training); we talked to the Navy who said that they couldn't do anything until she was officially a senior. That left the Marine Corps. We went in and talked to the nice Staff Sargent there. She laid it all out for Krystyne. She basically explained all that she would be getting out of her service. Not only money for school, but pride in herself and personal accomplishment. She showed her the money - which isn't much - but when you're looking at that or minimum wage at McDonald's and living at home it seems like the damn lotto!  I was impressed with the questions Krystyne asked and the answers she gave to questions asked of her. She had real reasons that at some point she had been thinking about. Her "future" was not just some magical-mystical thing that we we always bothering her about, it had become something she was actively thinking about and really figuring out what that was going to look like.
When the recruiter asked her if she was willing to make the commitment to the Marine Corps I held my breath. I wasn't expecting a solid answer. She's 17. But when she said "Yes, I do" I had to contain myself and not cry (and I didn't - yay me!). That was one of those defining life moments. The ones you can point at and say "My Life Changed In" kind of moments. That was the most adult decision she has ever made. And I am PROUD! The best part is she is proud of herself.
In two weeks she leaves for her medical processing. Two days spent seeing every kind of doctor there is to make sure she is fit for military service. I'm scared to death. I think this will be my normal state from here on out - the new hum in the background. Your children growing up and moving out is always going to happen. You know it. You live with it and sometimes look forward to it. But now there is a looming date; or there will be soon.
In just over a year I will be putting my little girl on a plane and I will get back a Marine. She will stand on the yellow footprints of Parris Island, SC and finish the transition from child to adult - she will begin the transition from civilian to Marine.
I have started my research. It's what I do when faced with any unknown. I read. I look up. I read some more. I look at books, and blogs, and chats, and message boards. I talk to everyone I can think of or find. This is the most unknown for me. When I send her off I will not be able to go with her. I will not be there to help her and offer her strength that she will need more than any time in her life. So from now until then I have to give her all that I can. I have to arm her with the most information I can cram in her pretty little head. I have to help strengthen her body. I have to tell her, show her and remind her every day that no matter what I will be there in her heart. I have to stop friggin' crying every time I think about this. I downloaded the Family Guide to Parris Island. It's an 11 page PDF that is a very basic walk through of what they should expect and what we, as parents, should and should not do. I cried through the whole thing. I looked up the books they suggest and will be ordering them. And I cried sitting on Amazon thinking of the books about Marine life that I will be ordering for my daughter. I sit here writing this and I have had to stop to wipe tears at least a dozen times.
I will keep this updated with what's going on in this amazing journey as I see it and work through it.
One day soon I will be able to stand proud and say "I raised a United States Marine". Today I stand proud and say I am raising Krystyne.

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