Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mother, You Had Me, But I Never Had You

The NY Times continues its years-long project to catalogue the wages of sin in a fallen world: Women At Arms: Wartime Soldier, Conflicted Mom
When Specialist Jaymie Holschlag returned home after 12 months in Iraq, a new set of children awaited her.

Her son, Seth, 10, who had moved in with his grandfather, switching towns and schools, was angry and depressed. His grades had plummeted and his weight had ballooned by 60 pounds. Her 4-year-old daughter, Celeste, scarcely knew her. And in Specialist Holschlag’s absence, new rules had taken hold — chocolate syrup on waffles, Mountain Dew with dinner. Any hint of a return to the old order met with tirades and tantrums.

Specialist Holschlag, a single mother and a combat medic, had changed profoundly, too. The violence in Ramadi had staked a claim on her patience, her tenderness and her resilience. She snapped at her children routinely, at times harshly.

Last month, on the eve of her second tour in Iraq, Specialist Holschlag decided she could not put her children through another deployment, and she requested a transfer. “They are my kids, and they deserve a mom that is wanting to hug them,” she said.

No word yet, on whether Mom has taken to sitting in a darkened playroom, muttering "The Horror...The Horror."

It's Bush's fault, of course. Never mind that paleo-con women like Phyllis Schlafely opposed the use of women in the armed services precisely because the tours of duty required of any uniformed personnel would interfere with the mother-child relationship in every way up to and including the death of the mother.

I am agnostic on the issue of "women in the military," especially as (1) it works well in the Israels Defense Force, without compromising Israeli pulchritude and (2) it's too well established. However, I think sending the mothers of young children into combat, especially when they are single mothers such as Specialist Holschlag, is too much. I don't know how this works in the IDF, but it seems to me that a woman becoming pregnant while in uniform, or presenting herself to a recruiter with babes in tow, is grounds for a state-side desk job, at the very least. But, sending a young mother into a combat zone, and leaving her kids with Grandpa Chocolate Syrup, strikes me as unspeakably and unnecessarily cruel.

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