Ethan Houston had been deployed in Germany and hadn't visited home in nearly two years until he surprised his mom.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 30, 2021. It has since been updated.
It's a proud feeling for every parent to see their child join the army to serve their nation, but it can also be a harrowing experience for them, as they wait in anxiety for their return. Parents often live with the fear of losing their child in battle, and spend much of their time yearning for their safe return. Ethan Houston's mom was no different. The anxiety, relief, and joy spilled over when her son surprised her when she was out grocery shopping. Ethan Houston had been stationed in Germany and hadn't seen his mother for two years, reported Goodnews Movement.
In the video, Ethan Houston can be seen waiting behind an aisle as his mother goes about her shopping. He can be seen holding a bouquet of flowers for his mother. As he walks out to surprise his mother, she lets out a visceral scream of joy. She is stunned to see her son stand before her. Overcome with emotion at seeing her son, she falls on her knees and hugs him at his midriff. He helps her up before they embrace each other. The relief of his mother is palpable in the video. She breaks down in tears as she holds him tighter. Onlookers and close family members, applaud and celebrate the moment with them.
Instagram users also got choked up watching the video. "You can FEEL every ounce of what she’s feeling in that scream. I damn near screamed with her," wrote one person. Another commented, "There’s nothing like the love a mother has for her child. This is so beautiful." It was the mother's scream that really stuck with everyone. "Okay, but please outside next time. I thought someone was being murdered. She’s got some pipes on her." One Instagrammer wrote, "Omggg these reunions make my eyes water every time. Another added, "Her scream of joy is EVERYTHING."
Homecomings can be highly emotional
It's hard to watch the homecoming video without tearing up as emotions run high. Every family is different and every member of the family has different expectations of such charged-up moments but a new study has shown that soldier homecomings may not be good for their children. It can be too overwhelming for them, say, mental health experts, reported The Washington Post. Research has shown that children with deployed military parents suffer higher levels of anxiety and emotional problems than their peers raised in nonmilitary families. A study in 2010 study showed that the anxiety of spouses’ returned to normal after soldiers returned home, but children’s remained high. It also revealed that one-third of them experience "clinically significant" anxiety, that warranted attention from a mental health professional.
“Surprises, even when positive, can be challenging and really emotionally laden for them,” said Catherine Mogil, a clinical psychologist with UCLA’s FOCUS project. Being deployed can also change the behavior of the soldier. “Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse,” said Stephen Xenakis, a Washington child, and adolescent psychiatrist. “But there’s no way that you can go through such a significant event in your life . . . and not come back as a very different person.” There have also been TV episodes on soldiers' homecoming including "Coming Home” on Lifetime and “Surprise Homecoming” on TLC. While the parents said they didn't mind filming the events, some mental health professionals said it may not be good for the children. “I would, from a policy standpoint and as a senior Army doctor, say that I would discourage families, and I would discourage the Army, from in any way agreeing to this kind of filming and programming,” said Xenakis.