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.