Wednesday, November 30, 2011

World Travel and Alone Time

One of the big upsides of Navy life is the opportunity it presents to travel around the world and the United States. I know, without doubt, that if I wasn't in the Navy, I never would have visited some of the places that I have.

Over Thanksgiving, I had one such opportunity. J's ship was pulling into Marseilles, France and it happened to align with a 4 day break I had for school. So, we discussed our options and we went for it. I flew to France (sans kids) and enjoyed 2 days alone with the husband. AND IT WAS WONDERFUL. I know there are many parents who couldn't imagine leaving their children and going to another country, even for such a short time, but I am so unbelievably happy I did. Not only did I get to spend some much needed one on one time with a husband I hardly even get to see (9 days until he is home for deployment!), but I also got to spend some much needed time by myself while I was on the 15+ hours of flights.

I think it is sooooo easy for military parents (or really any parent) to give up time for themselves to spend it with the kids. There's always a million reasons not to step away, money, guilt, babysitters, etc. But, I really believe this time away is critical. I knew one mom who hadn't been away from her baby for more than 2 hours its whole first year of life. 2 hours!

I'm not saying that I want to spend all my time away from my kids, I actually love spending time with them (despite what gets said on this blog on occasion), but at the same time, I think is crucial that we as parents maintain our adulthoods and our sense of self. I know that I will look back at this time when my kids are young and wonder where the time went, I don't want to look back and wonder where I went.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moms and the Military

I just read an article on CNN about a family that lost a mother at war. Against my better judgement, I scrolled down to the comments section and read and read and read. And while there was the normal claptrap about the war and such (I won't get into my opinion here either way), I was shocked at the significant number of comments by women and mothers that stated that this woman was a bad parent for being in the military with small children. A significant number of these women seemed to suggest that this woman was actually a bad mother for continuing to serve after she had children. As if to say she didn't love her children as much as her military career. That somehow the decision to stay in the military was merely a selfish one and actually at the expense of her child's happiness.

I will be honest, since I have had children, I have greatly struggled with my military service. I work long hours, I am away from my children much, much more than I would like to be. But at the same time, I enjoy my job. There is an inherent difference in being a Naval Officer that I know I will never find in another career. I know that no other job will provide me with the mental challenge and satisfaction that this one has. Also, no other job will provide me with the opportunities that I have received. I have a college and master's degree with no incurred debt, I have seen the world twice over, I have grown as a person and as a leader. And, not for nothing, I met my husband through my service. So, I have to say that I am torn. I am thrilled with my career in some regards and others are keeping me from the things that I care about most.

But, no matter what my feelings are, I will never believe that I am damaging my sons in anyway. They are loved. They know they are loved. Sure, they would like mommy to be there every night, but they understand she can't be. I am providing them not only with the things that they need (food, medical care, shelter), but I also present to them an example of what a woman can do. And, I know that if I wasn't challenged in the way that I am at work, I wouldn't be the same mother that I am. You see all that growing that I have done as a naval officer also shaped me into the parent that I am. My confidence, patience, level headness and countless other qualities that I gained from military service will be passed onto my boys through my example.

So, for all the people that believe it to be irresponsible for a mother to go to war, I disagree. We all have our challenges in life. Mine take a different spin. Whether I continue my military service or not after this obligation, I know that staying in after their birth was absolutely the right decision. And I know without a doubt that my sons will be better men because their mommy was a sailor.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Bad Mammajammas (or however that's spelled)

Well folks, we are officially 5 weeks into our 10 week stay in hotel hell and we are surviving, not thriving. Honestly, it hasn't been THAT bad, just bad. We have had our runs of colds, coughs, snots and eye gunk that has me on the edge about whether or not the kids should go to daycare and I have to say that I feel sorry for the poor souls that are in the rooms next to us. Yes, I am that lady who has the kids who wake up crying at 0445 (but hey it's a military town, everyone is up anyway right?).

So my biggest challenge so far has been how to enforce good parenting practices in a completely impossible setting. For example, the rule is you sit at the table until everyone is done no matter how much or how little you choose to eat for dinner. No table here, so trying to get the 2 year to stay in one place is just not happening. Also, generally when a fit occurs, I ignore it until the kids realize that it isn't working and then we talk about it. Well, I don't think allowing screeching for 15 minutes at 0530 is particularly neighborly, so I have been giving in a lot more easily than I normally would.

So what's a mom to do? Throw out the rules, survive the next 5 weeks and hope for the best when Dad takes over (mwhahaha!) or try and maintain some semblence of order and discipline in a wackadoo setting? I think ultimately survival will dictate a mixture of both, but this is truly a tough nut to crack. I fear that we will walk back into our house with two horribly behaved children that will take weeks of re-programming just in time for Christmas visiting so everyone will see what monsters we have raised. The pressure!