The Countdown Begins – 13 weeks to go
This will be a crazy time for you Mom, it is ok. Acknowledge that your feelings are all over the place, this is what we call, normal. It is impossible to explain to someone that hasn’t gone through this experience, how you are feeling. If you need help, guidance or just an ear to listen, comment below or reach out here. There is comfort in knowing you are not alone.
13 weeks of little to no communication with your child of 18, 19 or whatever their age, will allow your imagination to run through wild scenerios of epic proportion. I call this, your mind acting like a 2 year old with a chain saw. You are truly your own worst nightmare. I can say for almost certain, however, that if you don’t hear anything, it is all going fine. The old adage, no news is good news could not be more true than during bootcamp.
This silence is hard, however, there is a means to the Marines method and I assure you, it works. The Marine that will hug you on the parade deck on Graduation Day will be a transformed and more mature version of the child you sent off 13 weeks ago. It is nothing short of amazing.
So…for the next 13 weeks, this is your role……
1. Write letters and a lot of them. This is the highlight of your recruits day. Have your family, friends, mentors, teachers, clergy, whoever, write to your child. Your recruit will be so grateful for the warm hug from home and your family and friends will be thankful to have a way to support your recruit.
**Caveat – I saw write letters, but you will have to wait until they pass the PT (Physical Test) and get put into a company. This is a very long series of days, largely because your mind is racing wondering how they are, have they passed the test and what they are doing. Stay calm and know this is normal and so are the thoughts racing through your head.
You will receive a letter from the Drill Sergeant in about 10 days or so. The letter is direct, factual and I found it a bit disturbing. The letter tells you not to be upset if your child’s letters are sad, miserable, they want to come home, etc. I am sure it is an importing thing to warn people, but it was alarming to say the least. I wish I had had this blog post so I would have know what to expect! You are so desperate for information at this point, so do not look to this letter to soothe your thoughts. You have to learn to manage your thoughts with that increasingly important mindset work.
Truth bomb…I called the recruiting office on day 10 to see if they had results. The recruiters don’t know much more than you, so save yourself the phone call. My sons letter came that same day.
With any luck, your child will write to you very soon after you receive the Drill Instructors letter. DO NOT ASK THEM TO WRITE YOU BACK. Give them an out. Tell them you know how busy they are and not to worry if they can’t write often.
The recruits have a very small amount of time for letter writing, as this is when they clean weapons, get a moment of extra rest, read or study for tests. Let them off the hook, but you ARE NOT off the hook . Write even if you never receive a letter. They will remember those letters long after bootcamp is over.
2. “How do I write so many letters, not much changes in a day or 5”. Here is a helpful tip. I got into the habit of sending a letter every day. Some days I sent an inspirations quote or one of the “recruit cards” from a loved one. If you don’t know what those are, see my blog about 10 tips to Prepare to Become a Marine Corp Mom. My son liked getting the “recruit cards” as they were from all different people in his life. He has saved every card and letter he received.
3. Tip….send a plastic baggie in one of your early letters so they will have a neat place to keep them. Their footlockers will get dumped so having the letters in one baggie will help them easily retrieve them.
4. DO NOT send packages. The Drill Instructors will likely take whatever you send away. If your child specifically asks you to send something, just send exactly what they requested and the quantity they asked for. Remember, if the Marines want them to have it, they will “issue” it.
5. Get a Recruit Calendar from your Recruiters office. Keep the calendar posted somewhere you can follow along. You will be able to ask your recruit “did you pass swim week?” or “how was the gas chamber”. Yes, they will get gassed.
Most recruits describe this as one of their least favorite experience. They only do it once and they will tell you it is just uncomfortable, but necessary. They will tell you all about it on Graduation Day if you ask them. Everything your recruit does is closely monitored and done for a reason. The Drill Instructors are building Marines at bootcamp no matter how much we as moms, struggle with the details.
6. If your recruit has their wisdom teeth, they will likely get them removed in the first few days. That was a shock for me. I needed to truly do some mindset work around my son being in pain and having to push through after just a day to recover. My thoughts were about me not knowing and how I could have removed them while he was home and let him recover before he went to bootcamp. None of those thought served me or my son, and they did not help me feel any better either. This is where Life Coaching is amazing.
7. There is a Facebook page called Parris Island Pictures, there is one for San Diego as well. I spent hours scouring over these trying to find my son. Ultimately, I did catch one or two, but it was a ton of time spent zooming in and out. With heads shaved and all in camo, it is very hard to pick your child out of the not so great sneaked pictures.
These pictures are taken by parents who go to their Marines graduation and Kindly steal a picture or two while on base. The Drill Instructors will not be happy with you if they catch you snapping a picture. They will absolutely tell you to cease and desist from picture taking so be aware.
The time spent looking through all of the pictures will yield little if any reward, but if it makes you feel connected, sift away!
8. Here is a tip….for the first few weeks, recruits will have rolled pants, not bloused tucked in to their boots. It is a privilege to blouse your pants. That small detail will help you edit out hundreds of pictures right off the bat. Sooooo wish I had had this tip back then!
Keep strong, keep positive in your letters and your mind and know you will see the most amazing transformation happen to your new Marine in 13 weeks. Connect with me here if you would like some mindset coaching, comment below for support or click here to join my mailing list for new blog posts.
Look for my next blog post on the Crucible and Graduation information that you won’t want to miss out on!