Technology’s Child

For the last 60 years, tens of thousands of mothers in Israel (and around the world), did what I did today. They sent their sons off to join the army of their nation. Twenty-something years ago, my sister-in-law was rocking my infant daughter who slept sweetly on her shoulder. She was only a few weeks old and my sister-in-law asked if she was doing it correctly.

“Does it hurt right here?” I said as I pointed to a location in the middle of my back.

“Yes,” she answered.

“Then you are doing it right,” I responded.

If you can think of what it feels like to send a son to the army, if you can just imagine the feeling…your stomach hurts just a bit, the lump in your throat seems greater today and your sense of time that much stronger…then you are doing it right and understanding. Your brain just doesn’t quite function as it should…you are a bit distracted and you keep looking at the clock. Where is he now? What is he doing? Where will he go?

Shmulik called me about two hours ago – he’s on his way to his base “somewhere” in Israel. I asked him as many questions as my mind could process. Did they give you all your supplies? Yes, he said – two towels, the socks, undershirts, the bag…and more.

How are the boots? “Not as comfortable as I thought they would be,” he answered…and I remembered Elie answering that it was more comfortable than he expected. I doubt the boots have changed, but I guess the expectations of the person are different. I mentioned this to Elie and he explained – before he went into the army, he favored hi-top heavy hiking boots and so the combat boots were in some ways lighter and softer…more comfortable. Shmulik is a sneakers and sandals kid and so the boots are more restrictive.

He told me that he was dressed in uniform, with two of his friends…and then I thought of all the mothers who for generations couldn’t ask what I was about to ask.

“Can you take a picture and send it to me by phone?”

He did – of him sitting there on the bus, staring at the camera. You can tell he is thinking…wondering if he knows how to attach the picture he just took. It isn’t his phone – we sent his younger brother’s phone because it is more durable and so Shmulik has to learn the menu options all over again.

A few minutes after I asked, my phone beeped with an incoming message…I have seen my second son in the uniform of Israel. It is real. The uniform is brand new, almost shiny. He doesn’t wear it naturally yet; it’s just too starched and formal. He was so busy concentrating on taking the picture and wondering if he’d figure out how to send it…he forgot to smile. When I got it, I sent him back a note, “Great. Now take another and smile this time,” I wrote.

A generation and two and three ago, mothers sent their sons off and didn’t know when they’d be back, didn’t hear about that first day until the first time they came home. Today, mere hours after he left, I was able to talk to him, know where he is and where he is going…and even see a picture of him.

By now, he is on base…his life as a soldier has begun.

9 Comments on Technology’s Child

  1. Paula- I am so sorry, you were there (on the day we met) for me just a few short months ago- I wish I was there for you… my heart is breaking for you….

    Jered is finally preparing to go back – and of course I am nervous all over again. Did his ankle heal enough, will he re-injure it, will they listen to him… it is as if he is starting all over again, and I am starting the worry again, just like you!
    And I agree with your comment about the phones, what would we have done without them?
    You are in my thoughts…

  2. When I read what you write about your sons, I often feel it in my gut. This post is no different. In fact, it’s more so. Thanks for making me feel something when I read. That’s a rare gift.

  3. Thank you both – Shelley…you are here with me…and he’s good. Spoke to him a few minutes ago – he’s already scheduled to come home tomorrow. Not so bad really…he left on Tuesday, home for the first time on Thursday. Next week will be the start of a much bigger interval away from home…but he sounds good and I have to let the boy go. I think that’s the hard part. I didn’t realize until now how much I was holding on to him remaining a boy…he’s very different in personality that Elie.

    Anyway – the one thing that is clear is that this is another phase of this journey…I’ll deal. Thanks to you both (Shelley and Bataliyah and others who have written to me directly).


  4. Will you be taking down Elie’s picture when he leaves the army and replacing it with Shmulik’s?

  5. Hi Findalis 🙂

    No, I won’t be taking Elie’s picture down. He remains a soldier – just part of the Reserves. I’ll continue to post about what he chooses to do in the months to come. I’ll add Shmulik’s picture and Chaim’s picture and if Yaakov allows it, I’ll put his picture up as well and eventually…several years down the line, if I’m still maintaining this blog…I’ll add Davidi’s picture too. Just as I haven’t stopped being a soldier’s mother, Elie hasn’t really stopped being a soldier…and won’t…until he reaches the age of 40 or so and is officially discharged. He has simply been released from the standing army to the Reserves.

  6. Yoni's mother // March 11, 2010 at 10:27 am // Reply

    My son Yoni was also inducted on Tuesday. Same time, same place. Yoni is my first to become a soldier in the IDF. When it was confirmed that he would go to Kfir, I googled Kfir in every possible variation and your blog came up. I would like you to know that it has been a source of comfort and strength to me. Thank you!!
    Perhaps our son’s will even meet, become friends and help each other. Schmulik, sounds like a great kid, as do all your sons from your description of them .

    My Yoni, being the eldest is the caretaker. “How are you Mom” he asks on his first phone call. Second phone call, when I asked him about how his base is, went… Mom you can never come here, its not safe for you to drive.

    Yoni will only be home on Friday, he wants to try out for Oketz, so this bunch had to stay another day.
    Me, well, Im cooking for shabbos, cleaning his room and wondering how I won’t collapse in tears when I see him for the first time in uniform.
    I am now a soldier’s mother.
    Hashems blessings to you and yours.
    shabat shalom.

  7. My heart tugs as I read your post and the comments from these other mothers. I am in awe of your collective strength and how you are able to find comfort from one another.

    Chazak v’amatz.

  8. Aaaaah, and so a new phase of your journey begins. .

    You know my heart is with you all…and my prayers.

    Thank YOU!

  9. An old trick we used when we got new boots was to wear them in the shower, dry them in the sun with newspaper inside and they fit like a glove.

    This trick should also be done with the new IDF berets. And thye can be shaved too!@ Just tell the boys, they’ll understand.

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