As Mother’s Day approaches, I would like to take the opportunity to shine a light on military moms. You are all truly amazing, and here are some reasons why.
1. You’re Physically and Emotionally Strong
Many military moms are virtually single moms for a significant part of their parenting career. Being “two parents at once” means having to do everything to keep the household going. You are the ones doing the time outs, the kissing of boo boos, the soccer practice cheering, the lawn mowing, the couch moving, the homework helping, the diaper changing, the night time reading, the money managing, the grocery shopping … I could go on and on.
I’ve worked with military moms who have moved homes while their spouse was deployed. I’ve worked with military moms who have given birth while their spouse was deployed, most of whom lived far from their family. And I’ve worked with countless women who parent multiple children and have a full-time job while their spouse is deployed. I work with military moms every day and every day I am in admiration of their emotional and physical strength.
2. You’re Generous
I often talk with military moms about the importance of self-care and I hear over and over, “Where is the time for that?” When we get in the weeds about the barriers to their self-care, I’m often in awe of everything that these moms are doing for others.
Being a military family often means putting your service member’s career first. If a military spouse has a career, it is not uncommon that it’s put on hold or their professional growth is sacrificed because it can be unfeasible to grow professionally when you can’t guarantee where you will be and how long you will be there. On top of that, military spouses tend to take on the majority of the parenting tasks due to the frequent separations and long duty hours of military service members. So, when do military moms have time for themselves? I regularly have to remind the military moms I work with that we are best able to give to others when we are also caring for ourselves. But I get it. Their giving nature is so strong.
3. You’re Resilient
Military families are faced with many stressors. Frequent relocations and prolonged separations from each other are piled on top of the stressors of parenthood. Because military families don’t have control over where they live and how long they live there, it can also mean having less social support or living a long way from the support of family. That’s not to mention the higher risk of physical injury or mental health difficulties in the family, depending on the nature of your service member’s job. I’ve just been amazed with the resiliency of so many military moms that I’ve worked with. I’ve heard stories of postpartum depression, children’s illness and injuries, death of family members, and house break-ins, all while their spouse is deployed or just returning from deployment (which is stressful on its own!).
Despite what is thrown their way, military moms make it through. When talking to a military mom about a tough time from their past, I find myself frequently asking, “How did you make it through?” and a common answer is “I had no choice.” But here’s the thing. They did have a choice; and these resilient women chose to keep going, to use whatever resources they had, and to trust there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Part of being resilient is to choose to move forward one step at a time, using any and all of the help available to you, even when you feel like giving up. These moms embody that.
4. You’re Brave
How many people do you know who willingly move to a new place every few years. A place that they don’t choose and is typically far from their home and family? How many people do you know who willingly separate from their spouse for 6-12 months at a time, often knowing their spouse could be doing things that place them in danger? I know lots of them, and they are all military spouses.
This builds off of both resiliency and generosity. We only know that military moms are so resilient because they are so brave. Because they choose to encounter what they know will be difficult, what they know will be stressful. And the purpose of this is often not for themselves, but for their family or for their country. We all know that military service members are brave and deserve the highest recognition. And we all need to remember to also honor the military moms (and all military spouses) who bravely and generously serve our country too.
Are you a military spouse? Download our free Military Parent’s Guide to Children’s Mental Health. It can help you better understand your children’s behavior, identify possible stressors and warning signs of mental health issues, and navigate through the world of getting help and treatment.
Vanessa Jacoby, Ph.D.
Vanessa Jacoby, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a child specialization in the Division of Behavioral Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center. She is member of the STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary Research Consortium and the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD, whose mission is to alleviate and prevent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other deployment related problems in active duty service members and their families. In her work at STRONG STAR, Dr. Jacoby conducts prevention and supportive programs with military families with young children experiencing deployment.
The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of One in Five Minds or Clarity Child Guidance Center. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. One in Five Minds and Clarity Child Guidance Center accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.