Inevitably when Mother’s Day comes around each year, I reflect on motherhood and my decision to join the Army National Guard. The day I became a mother was the day my life was no longer my own. My children are at the forefront of every decision I make. What I do, I do for them, to give them every opportunity that I can possibly give them. Joining the military was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has provided me the opportunity to enhance my children’s lives in more ways than we all realize.
Being a Soldier and a mother has its challenges, but it also has its rewards. A thought that reoccurs in my mind is that I’m not giving 100 percent to my kids or 100 percent to my job. I would struggle with that reality and contemplate how I could get there. I realized that at any given moment I am robbing one area of my life to give to another. I had to change my mindset and understand it’s all about balance and moderation – giving my best at all times to everything in my life. I often run a gamut of emotions, from guilt for leaving my children and missing important life events, and guilt for not staying at work longer or doing more. I use that guilt to drive me to become better, to make events more memorable for my kids and to do a little extra at work when time allows.
I am a firm believer in communication and keeping an open dialogue with my two kids, Olivia and Gabe. I cannot expect them to understand if I don’t share this part of my life with them. When I do this, they comprehend what my military life is like, and it gives them a snapshot of all that I have going on as a mother and also as a Soldier. They are included in every decision I have to make concerning the military. I want them to know that their opinion is important to me, and I value what they think. They often have some surprising feedback and are more understanding than what I give them credit for. They never cease to amaze me!
Thankfully my kids understand the sacrifices that have been made on my part, but more importantly on theirs. They have given up a lot due to my career choice, but they also know the rewards that have we have benefitted from, both tangible and non tangible. In reality, the military is our second family – a diverse community of like-minded individuals that have similar goals and desires in life. The support we receive from our military family is unlike any other. This network of selfless individuals has truly been there for my children and I. I can honestly say they have helped us out tremendously during sticky situations. I’m not surprised; we are all going through the same thing and can relate to the military lifestyle.
No other role I could have would ever compare to the one as being a mother. There is no argument that it is the best thing in the entire universe! I have learned so much about life and myself by parenting my children. I often use the same principles when it comes to leading Soldiers. They just happen to be a little older. The military is such a diverse community it allows me to bring home teaching points to my kids. I am often amazed how the two roles complement each other. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t happen on a daily basis, but it happens enough that I take notice of the parallels.
The military has done so many things for me personally and professionally that I could not articulate them all to you. I am a Soldier and a mother. Both worlds collide at moments, but it always dissipates. Something I have found that helps keep me centered is perspective. Perspective is a must to walk the lines of both roles and maintain harmony. A positive outlook can change many things in our lives. We need to take time to reflect on the “why”, and remind ourselves why we joined the military and why we had children. In doing so, we remember there are things that are bigger than us, and to have played a role and serve a purpose is such an honor. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers that sacrifice daily!