When I see friends that are not military complain or vent
about the difficulties they face in “the juggle” I can’t help but judge, just a
bit. Especially when I see people who took the type of jobs I moved away from
(for the best reasons, of course), I think, "What if?"
Who wouldn’t? I know it’s
not fair—trust me—I feel a lot of guilt about it, because every family is
just trying to find a way to make it work. As a military family, though, that balance and the decisions that affect it have a whole new meaning and weight.
As easy as it is to look at others’
lives with rose-colored glasses, I make myself think about the experiences and
benefits that we get from this crazy military life.
Every experience in the military is different. My
husband, for example, is in the infantry, and his entire career is gearing
up for, going through and recovering from deployments. When we decided to
start a family, we had a serious discussion about the importance of stability
in our children’s lives, and the result was that I would be the primary caregiver—staying home (and working from home) and being a constant and available
Our daughter does go to day care a few days a week so I can juggle
conference calls and major projects, but for the most part I juggle my business
and projects with her schedule. I turned down a variety of opportunities after
graduate school that, while great, would have put me in a position to travel,
work late and not have the flexibility to take on the double parent roles that
occasionally occur when my husband has field exercises or is deployed.
I chose to make my consulting business a full-time endeavor,
but without the support of my husband—and without a take-no-prisoners attitude about
getting things done—the successes I’ve experienced would be nearly impossible.
With my business and every other project I launch, I am reminded of the financial security and awesome health care that the
military provides (current sequester aside). I have the opportunity to build a
business on my terms.
Not everyone—military or otherwise—is so lucky
As my husband’s career develops and we grow our family, the
dynamic will surely evolve. I am lucky enough to have a partner who supports
my career and supports the choice to put our daughter in day care part- or full-time. Not everyone—military or otherwise—is so lucky, but finding a balance
is still possible, especially as little ones start going to school full time.
One of the most important things for our family is to ensure stability, so we
focus on spending the evenings we are all together, in fact, together. When my
husband gets home from work, we play with the dog outside, go on walks around
the neighborhood, play with those awful high-pitched musical toys and have
dinner as a family. My work finds a way to squeeze into naptime, the time
before she wakes up, after dinner and as many moments in between that aren’t
spent playing with or feeding the little lady. Even though it is hard seeing
the files and deadlines looming—literally as my office is visible from the
living room—I love being able to divide my work hours up throughout the day while still building an exciting career and getting to absorb every
moment of cuteness while she is growing.
Throughout the next few weeks I’ll be sharing tips, stories
and experiences that help other military spouses (and moms) find a way to
balance motherhood and still have a career that exceeds their expectations.
Have specific questions or comments you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.
There is no perfect way to create the life you dream of, but by having these
conversations and sharing experiences, it might be a little easier than before.