Mothers are not the only “mothers” in life

May 12, 2007

by Josh

I think I made a huge mistake in asking HP for the Saturday slot because of all of these great posts to follow, from people who are closer to the issue than I. What can I contribute to the topic of motherhood? Well, I have a mom. But I am not going to talk about her too much. I love her and I honestly could not write anything that would do justice to what a blessing she’s been in my life. HP wrote, “I am of the belief that there is no other act that so closely approximates the act of the Atonement than the act of childbirth.” Likewise, I say, “there is no other earthly role that so closely approximates the mercy and wrath of God than a Mother.” I’ll just leave it at that.

When I went to Iraq as a U.S. Marine in 2003, it was the second farthest distance I had been from home in my nineteen years of life. Of course, I had spent one year on base in Okinawa, Japan. The haphazard journey from Kuwait to Iraq wore out tires, broke down vehicles, and changed the lives of all who I knew from the conflict. People matured, although they did not necessarily become mature. Sunny dispositions darkened and were overshadowed by worries, fears, and aggression at everything that could go wrong and did go wrong. The average age of the soldier in Vietnam was nineteen. I was nineteen in Iraq. It is such a young age to go to war and not to have your mother with you. I remember sometime after the war started I called my mom by satellite phone. She sounded so happy and glad to hear my voice. I missed home a lot during the war. I was so far away from my family.

But I had another family with me. I had my Marine family. I had guys who, while not exactly friends, cared for me if only for the fact that they were my superiors and were obligated to care for me. But is this not what a family is at its basic core? I had mothers, fathers, and brothers in Iraq. The brotherhood of war cannot be overstated at all. I think any mother who sends her son to the military can rest easy in knowing that her son will be surrounded by people who care for him.

When I was seventeen, I enlisted in the Marine Corps and left home for the first time. Snap, went the umbilical cord. When I enlisted in the Marines and was sent into the Middle East, my mother might as well have been on Pluto. There was no internet access and mail took weeks to get to me. We were on the move all the time and we were trying to get to Baghdad to pay Saddam a visit. God was on everyone’s minds I think. Family was also very much on people’s minds. It was an unspoken faith and hope, family. Hope that we would see them again. Even though we were all far from our mothers we had each other. We believed in each other. We worshipped in a sense, each other. We worshipped the unit. We shared food, we shared stories. We shared hardships, together. We mourned together. Yes, we bitched together. From the food, to our commanders, to our mission, we complained about everything. More importantly, we cared for one another, hated one another, but needed one another, much in the same way nuclear families do.



  1. Good post! Nothing else to add, really.

  2. Leaving your family and going into the Marines sounds like leaving the comfort of Heaven and coming to Earth. Interesting analogy. I hope you will elaborate when we discuss the topic of families.

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