The life of a military spouse/parent is often compared to
that of a single parent. In each scenario there are long hours alone, an impossible
juggle between self and child, and challenges that are unique to this specific situation. My husband
deployed to Afghanistan in March 2012 when I was about four months pregnant and
returned home a couple of days after our daughter turned three months old. Many
people not in the military hear that and are shocked. "He couldn't come home for the birth?!" was the most frequent question I heard when he was deployed.
While military spouses share some similar experiences with
single parents, there is a whole other layer of complexity involved. It is fairly obvious: Your spouse is working
in a war zone, possibly experiencing enemy contact. As the wife of an
infantryman, this often unspoken reality is something that people outside the
military will never understand. In many ways we were lucky through this
deployment. Communication was frequent and for most of it, there was no little
one to manage. As another brigade from our post is preparing to deploy, many
friends with young children are having the tough conversations with their
little ones about where daddy (or mommy) is headed.
I can hardly call myself an expert on anything deployment
related, but in the few months I juggled a little one alone, I've learned a few
1. Find a
Even if you have a great network of friends outside the military,
find someone that you can talk to that understands what you are experiencing.
Obviously someone from your unit/brigade/company/ has a great understanding
of what you are currently experiencing, but not all spouse groups have positive
or frequent interactions. Stick your
hand out and introduce yourself, or leave a note for that new neighbor.
yourself to wallow, but only for a few minutes
You will have hard days.
There will be days that you do not want to get out of bed or off the couch.
Give yourself the moment, but then get up and get moving. Go for a walk or run,
spend 30 minutes at the gym or do some yoga or light stretching. Getting your
blood moving helps your mood, and is a helpful distraction.
3. Find a
hobby or an activity
I took up crafting, but there is a reason there are
no fruits of my labor. I am a horrible crafter. Regardless, I spent countless
hours working on projects to keep busy. While drinking red wine doesn't count
as a hobby, feel free to do it while you're crafting. Although maybe that's why my
projects never turned out well.
Even though our little lady was too young to understand, we made sure that she
and my husband could spend time on video chat. I'm sure it is more valuable for
older kids, but making sure my husband had plenty of "daughter time" helped
strengthen their bond, particularly as he hadn't yet met her. Seeing someone is
infinitely more valuable than hearing about his or her activities. If you can't
video chat, take photos with the kids, or draw and paint cards or photos to send
in a care package.
5. Know your
About to lose it? Take advantage of the many resources for military
families and get the kids to a day care or after-school program and go pamper
yourself for a couple of hours. No one can do it all, all the time, and you aren't
expected to juggle everything. Even if it is to only take a silent shower and
nap for an hour, you will feel rested and rejuvenated.
Are you a military mom or a single mom? Leave your tips in the comments!