Chief Mom has been in the Army for 15 years. With the support of her family, she survived 4 deployments to the Middle East and trips away.
The Two Most Common Questions Asked When I Tell People That I'm in the Military
When I tell people that I am in the military, and they know I am also a mom and wife, the two questions I am always asked are:
- Is it hard?
- How do you do it?
This article will tell you what it is like to be a military mom.
Missing the special little things is the hardest part.
Is it hard being a military mom?
Being a military mom is really tough. You miss so many holidays, birthdays and special occasions, but it's missing the little special things that is the hardest part of being away. Going on deployment is not the only thing that keeps me away. I can't tell you how many times I've had to go on a trip to another state for some kind of training, conference, or workshop, and the countless days I have spent working over 12-16 hours while at my home station.
Last Monday was the first day of school. My daughter learned how to ride her bicycle over the summer and was so excited that she could ride her bike to school for the first time. I told her I would ride my bike with her on her first day because she was a little nervous. Unfortunately, we had some things come up at work, and I was unable to ride my bike with her because I had to go into work early.
My kids learned at an early age to "adjust fire," as we call it in the Army, with last minute things that come up, like me going into work when I was supposed to be off. Last month, in July, I had some time off from work scheduled and had plans with my family to go on a road trip. The day before the scheduled road trip, the equipment I was trying to get moved was still not moving. I ended up going into work the next day to make sure the trucks came in to move the equipment. My kids were sad because they were looking forward to the road trip but they were understanding.
As hard as it is being a military mom, it is also rewarding. It breaks my heart every time I see their faces drop when I tell them I have to change our plans or when I tell them I am going back to the Middle East for a year. But they also know the true value of family time and that it is not the holiday or birthday or the special occasion that makes it wonderful, but the fact that we can be together when we celebrate it.
Without your family's support, nothing is possible.
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How do you do it?
One question I am asked a lot is how do you do it? How do you go away so much? My answer is simple: my husband and modern-day technology. My husband is very supportive of my military career. Without his support, there is no way I could do what I do. He is understanding when the Army calls me away and when the Army tells me I need to work when I was supposed to be off. He also lets me know when I have been putting too much time into the Army and when it is time to put in some family time.
When I am away from home, we get by with lots of pictures and FaceTime. In the middle of my third deployment, our apartment lease ended. The rent was going to increase and we thought we would be able to find a house to rent for the same price. When my husband found some places to look at, he would schedule the house showing in the evening time. I was in Afghanistan so that made it early morning time for me. We would FaceTime while he was taking a tour of the house. It was nice to be able to be involved with something like this even though I was thousands of miles away.
The internet is terrible when you are in Afghanistan. It is even worse when you are in Afghanistan on Christmas Day. Everyone is trying to get onto the internet at the same time to FaceTime their family and watch them open presents. In our family, we have a tradition where we wake up the kids at midnight to open their presents. This tradition ended up being a great thing when I was in Afghanistan on my deployments. When it is midnight at home, it is 9:30 am in Afghanistan. No one is on the internet because their family members are still sleeping, so I am able to FaceTime and watch my family open their presents without any interruption.
"Go hard or go home"—I think I will just go home! :)
Coming home from a deployment is a process and a lot of mixed emotions. You have anxiety, excitement, and wonderment. You don't know what to do, how to react, or how your family will react. I think not knowing how your family will react is the most stressful part of coming home. You hear the horror stories of kids being mad at their parents and not showing their happiness when they see their military parents again. You hear of younger kids not even knowing or remembering their parents when they return.
On my second deployment, my kids were 2 and 3 years old when I left and 3 and 4 when I came home. During that deployment, I was so afraid they wouldn't know me when they saw me. I was so nervous, but when I saw them, they not only remembered me but were so happy to see me again! That was probably one of my happiest memories.
After my third deployment, I surprised them at school by showing up at their school. Jaden was sitting in his classroom with his back to me. When I walked in, his teacher called his name. He answered her and turned around at the same time. When he turned around he saw me and just made a mad dash to me. He had gotten so big over that year that he almost knocked me over when he gave me a hug. :) My daughter was at the playground so we walked over to the playground to see her. She was at the top of the play equipment and saw my husband first. She was happy to see him and as she started walking to the slide she saw me. She screamed "MOMMY!!" and slid down and ran to give me a big hug. :)
After my fourth deployment, I surprised them at their karate school. I arrived at the school right when their karate class was starting. My husband went in to let them know we were there and they said to give the kids about 10 minutes so that they would be a bit into their class and it would be easier to surprise them. When I walked in, my son was doing cartwheels to the other side of the room. My daughter had just finished her cartwheels and she was looking around to see who else had finished. She came to me and gave me a big hug and everyone started clapping. When my son was at the other side of the room he heard everyone clapping and looked around to see what was going on, which is when he saw me and ran to give me a hug. This time I was more prepared for his running hugs and was able to brace myself for the big hit. :) The owners of the school also had a surprise of signs and flowers for me.
At the End of the Day, I Wouldn't Change a Thing in my Life
Although being a military mom is hard, there isn't a thing in my life that I would change. I think being in the military teaches my kids how to deal with things and move on. Because of the military, I have been able to travel with my family and my kids have seen so many places other kids their age have never seen. My only hope is that when my kids grow up and look back on their childhood they think I did a good job balancing being a mom and being a chief in the Army.
© 2017 Chief Mom