Logan’s Mom is in Afghanistan

Logan and his mother. 

COURTESY OF LOGAN MIELDS

About 10 percent of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are women. One of them is Logan’s mother.

By Logan Mields, as told to John DiConsiglio

We were talking trash all practice. Me and one of my teammates from the Raiders, my middle school football team. It was one of those hot days they have here in North Carolina. I had just moved from Washington State, and I still wasn’t used to the sticky weather. Football practice dragged on. I was already in a bad mood. All it took was one push to send me over the edge.

That’s exactly what happened. I jumped on my teammate and wrestled him to the ground. The other kids had to pull us apart. My coach was blowing his whistle. The other kid screamed at me: “What’s wrong with you, man?”

What’s wrong with me? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with me. I just moved 3,000 miles. I left my dad, my girlfriend, my home. Now I’m in a new school. I don’t know anyone. And the Army just sent my mom to Afghanistan. By the way, there’s a war going on over there.

So, yeah, that’s what’s wrong with me.

I’m not always this angry. It’s been a tough couple of months. I should be used to it by now. I’m a military kid. My mom is a sergeant in the Army. She’s moved from base to base. My parents are divorced, and I was living with my dad in Washington. But last summer, I moved to North Carolina to live with my mom. I wanted to spend more time with her. Plus, I have grandparents and cousins here. It sounded like an adventure.

I hadn’t even unpacked when my mom sat me down. She choked back tears, but I knew what was coming.

She said, “How would you feel if the Army sent me to Afghanistan?”

I answered, “I don’t want you to go.”

But I know the drill. The Army tells you where to go—and you can’t say no.

My mom tried to explain: She’s serving her country. It’s her chosen profession. It would only be for a few months. We have to stay strong. We’re a team.

I’m never going to join the Army. If I’m going to be part of a team, it’ll be in the NFL.

I’m Always Thinking about My Mom

I’ve seen videos of Afghanistan on TV. It looks like a big desert where people shoot at each other all the time. My mom says it’s not like that. She works at a desk, gathering intelligence about where the enemy might attack. She’s not in combat. She doesn’t shoot a gun. But it’s a dangerous country, so I worry.

Also, she’s 8,000 miles from me. And it’s like an eight-and-a-half-hour time difference. Sometimes we talk on the phone or over Skype. She calls when it’s three in the morning Afghanistan time. That’s 7 p.m. here. She says she’s OK, but she looks tired.

When I close my eyes at night, I think about bombs and gunfire. Sometimes it keeps me up. I put on my headphones, but even my music brings back memories. I’ll be listening to Drake, and I’ll suddenly remember how much Mom hates hip-hop. She’d switch off Drake in the car and remind me that she has a strict no-profanity rule. Then I’d turn him back on, and we’d laugh about it.

I guess I never stop thinking about her.

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. We were supposed to have fun. Before she left, we tried to cram in all sorts of activities: go-carts, laser tag, movies. Still, it felt like we were under pressure to have fun. I missed her even before she left.

Trying to Hold On

I lost my cool when I got into it with that kid at football practice. But my coach understood. He knows I’m under a lot of stress. He said I have to stay in control if I want to play for the team. I thought about quitting. But I need football too much. The games and practices keep me busy. There’s no time to wonder if Mom is safe. My mom came to one of my football games before she left. I’m a linebacker, and I was all over the quarterback. After one sack, I spotted her in the stands. I tried not to think about the games she was going to miss. Games, birthdays, Christmas. Instead, I smiled and posed for her in my Raiders jersey. She took that picture with her to Afghanistan. She said she was going to look at it every day she was over there. So now I focus on the days too. One day down. One day closer to her coming home.

 

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