Just stick it out this first semester…
Looking back upon this year as a FISH mom, I realized the phrase “Just Stick it out this First Semester… It will get better, didn’t just apply to my Freshman. As a mom with a son in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, I had to heed my own advice.
It never occurred to me at 25, while I was working in Student Affairs, the curt phrases I said to parents- such as “Don’t worry, they will do just fine.” “We will help them with anything they need.” or the favorite “This will be a year of transition.” I would have to tell my 50-year-old self, as my son left for Texas A&M.
The words to myself were more gracious but similar:
“You raised him well, let him move forward. You aren’t letting go, you’re just stepping alongside. Help him push through both the the good/bad experiences that will challenge him and grow him. Give him as much or as little space as he needs and never forget to say I LOVE YOU.
Marc is the middle child. He is quiet, gentle spirited and mature. From the out-side looking in, at 6’3” he appears very confident and contemplative. He would like you to think that he is tough as steel and handle anything that comes his way.
Marc is also my protective son. If there was a stereotypical military candidate, it would be him. In the evening, he is the first to do family roll call and check the doors to make sure they are locked. He even calls when someone is out too late (Including his parents). So, I never would have guessed, Marc of all my children, questioned his college choice.
Marc loves to serve others and dreams to fly. So, when the Navy offered him a way to incorporate those aspirations, he decided to accept their offer by way of Texas A&M and the Corps of Cadets. He chose a military lifestyle in a one of the largest state universities in Texas.
So, he left for Texas A&M bound with only one box of personal items (civilian clothes) and a backpack. Now to most parents this would be a relief, but, for us, one box told a different story. One box was the new reality that personal possessions were small and few. Choices would not be their own, but directed by the upper class students and the Corps Commanders in their unit. Standard issue uniforms would be the new norm and wearing civilian clothes would be a priveledge. That one box meant that any conveniences of home would be minimal and having snacks in the room, meant establishing an outside covert operation. Each student would have exactly the same allowances; all the items on the designated list and nothing to differentiate one freshman from another.
It only took the first 10 days of the grueling transition of the military lifestyle, square meals, and rigorous training, for Marc to feel defeated and ready to quit. He really didn’t think he could step back onto campus and add another thing; specifically, his engineering classes.
Welcome to FISH year!
Now, let me tell you as his mom, I needed to be reminded of what my education classes taught me in graduate school. I needed to remember the he was going to survive and the worst thing I could do was let him come home. So, while I was encouraging him to just stick it out this first semester, I had to stick it out as well. I had to believe in the Corps of Cadets mission.
So, after that first weekend break, we took him back to school and told him to get out of the car. WOW-it was the hardest weekend of my life and the hardest thing I think I had to do as a parent.
Fast forward to April; finishing up his first year as part of the Corps of Cadets. I never doubted but often questioned how this year would end. Let’s just say-the Corps will take your son or daughter to a level of humility, respect, and reliance, that looks incredibly tough, unfair and crazy. But as promised, those same young men and women who doubted themselves in August have now accomplished a nine month journey that has set them on this incredible course of honor, courage, integrity, discipline and selfless service.
“The Corps trains these young men and women into well-educated leaders of character who embody the values of HONOR, COURAGE, INTEGRITY, DISCIPLINE and SELFLESS SERVICE. They are academically successful, highly sought-after, and prepared for the global leadership challenges of the 21st Century.” TAMU Corps of Cadets.
And, I can honestly say that Marc is now confidently heading in that direction. And about adding those engineering classes, he did awesome!
Oh and did I say that I am proud to be an Aggie Mom. Whoop! Whoop! Thank you Texas A&M Corps of Cadets.