Mother's Day is Sunday and I know that many of you are anticipating the time with your kids. Some will get cards and drawings that will forever be treasured in scrapbooks or special drawers, perhaps even on walls and refrigerators. Some may be without their children due to a painful loss. Some may have a son or daughter in a war zone.
Then there are those who are in a different situation like me. While two are pursuing their dreams with college, I honestly don't know whether I will have any communication with my oldest. It depends on what kind of day it is for him. Things that seemed perfectly normal just a few years ago are now rare moments in time. Family holidays, Super Bowl parties with their favorite appetizer, family movie and game nights: these are almost as rare as the Super Moon we experienced a couple of nights ago.
PTSD, brain injuries, epilepsy and memory loss have taken those every day natural times and made them treasured memories, not only because I love my kids but because one of them will never be the same again and it is not his fault.
That is what I cling to: my son's personality changes are NOT his fault. They are his wounds from serving in combat, defending his country, protecting his loved ones. Seriously, I deal with people telling me I cut him too much slack. Really? Well, maybe so. But if had been someone with problems as a juvenile, someone who always had a bad temper or didn't care about being around his family or kept himself locked up in a room, I could see their point. But he wasn't. He was a young man so proud of his hometown that he brought his Army buddies home whenever he could. They would tell me about how he would go on about being from the greatest place in the world. When Hurricane Katrina hit and I thought of going with a church to help, my son called and told me not to because his unit was going to be helping and he didn't want to have to worry about me being there with some of the “not-so-good” stuff going on with people taking advantage of a disaster and hurting others.
Mother's Day is nothing like what it used to be. If I get a moment with him, I will definitely be thanking God. If I don't, I will probably go through old pictures, old letters, old memories and still be thankful to God.
If you are about to experience your first or yet another Mother's Day in a world filled with PTSD, please remember that you are not alone. There are other moms out there who understand what you are going through. If you need help finding a support group, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or reach out to Family of a Vet here and someone will be happy to assist you in getting the right resources. We care because we understand. We understand because we have been through and live with a lot of the same things you do.
Also, remember this: we as moms are a lot stronger than we realize. I didn't know how strong I could be until I became my son's combat buddy here at home, a name his own commander gave to me. We are your combat buddies, also. Let's smile and enjoy our Mother's Day and not let the “enemy” take it over. We can spend it with our children if we are able to or we can take comfort in the wonderful memories of how it once was. Either way, we are the lucky ones for having those brave young men and women in our lives. No one can take that away from us, not even PTSD.
Happy Mother's Day. :)