Being An Army Mom

What does it take to be an Army Mom?  Some of us are worriers, some are brave, some may  be in denial, others are planners,  and then there are those that decorate their homes in yellow ribbons surrounded by the Red, White and Blue, and most, I think you will agree, are a little bit of all of the above, like me!  We even had a 3 foot banner to welcome our son home from his second deployment. He said he liked it but it would not surprise me if he filed it away in his mind as one of those things that parents do.   He is preparing to leave for his third deployment, and now the contest is on to see if we can top that last deployment’s homecoming. Maybe, instead of a banner, we will strive for a marching band!  Now the funny thing is, as I plan for his third homecoming, is to understand he doesn’t even have his orders yet.  All they are preparing for now is what our newspaper called “readiness training”.   Since he is in the PA National Guard, you would think all of their training would be for readiness. But that is just my opinion and as, I think about it, and I am not sure I want to know what they do all year-long when they are not in “readiness training”. 
If I had to pick one peculiarity of an Army mom, a planner would be mine.   Now all of you active duty spouses and parents out there, stop laughing.  I know that planning in the Army is the same as thinking in the Army, you just don’t do it.  That is what the Army does, they do our planning and thinking for us, and I have a feeling the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard are the same.  But I am a chronic planner so over the years as I have planned, I have learned to have a plan B, and sometimes even a plan C.  I am ready for any scenario the Army throws at us, and I must admit I have never run out of plans yet!
So as I sit here planning for my sons return from his deployment, I can’t help but prepare my heart as the day gets closer and closer when we have to say good-bye to him yet again.  With being raised in the military, I thought I would be prepared for the long separations, but I learned all too well when my husband re-enlisted shortly after my son was born that being an Army wife is different from being an Army daughter.  Becoming what my friends and I called part- time single moms would be the hardest challenge I would ever go through.  So I thought, I was 22 yrs old and a new Army wife, what did I know?  But I will be honest; nothing, and I mean nothing, prepared me for my son enlisting.  When he enlisted in the summer of 2001 with the PA National Guard, I planned my little heart out.  I planned our trip to see his graduation from Ft Benning, I was planning his first meal home, and I was even planning his college graduation 4 years down the road.  Now keep in mind he enlisted in the summer and did not have to report to Ft Benning till the end of October, but that did not stop me – I was planning and I was going to be prepared, no crying and being over emotional for me, no sir, not me, I am an Army brat born and raised, I can handle this.  At this time I just turned 40 so you would think I would have known better, dried eyed I was not!   This time it was not the military that changed everything but the morning of Sept 11, 2001 which changed America forever.  The reality of his enlisting had entered into my life, and I was faced with a new challenge in my life. It seems to me as soon as we get over one challenge another comes swiftly to take its place. 
Now the military comes in to change my plans. Our son was not home but a few weeks from Basic Training and AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) at Ft Benning, GA when he received orders to Bosnia.  When we returned home from our son’s Basic Training and AIT graduation ceremony, it is then my husband informed us that he had orders for Germany.  Part of my plans was to have my husband with me as we both dealt with our son’s first deployment.  In a blink of an eye, half of my family will be half way around the world.  So my daughter then 16 and I planned and prepared for a very long and lonely year.  While they were gone I not only took care of the house, the bills, the repairs, and the decisions by myself, but I also worked full-time.  But it was not all work and worry.  My daughter and I developed a wonderful close relationship; I learned new crafts, got involved with volunteering with the church and deepened my relationship with God.  I found myself changing into a seasoned Army wife and mother.  A rare breed we are, we are as tough as lions and as gentle as a lamb.  We are hard-working, wise, courageous, faithful, strong, and compassionate. We are the backbone of the military.  All of us moms, dads and spouses keep the heart and hearth of America beating. 
As we prepare again for another deployment, I will muster up the all the courage, strength, wisdom, and all the love that is within me once again.  My husband is now retired and he found out during our sons’ second deployment that watching our son leave is one of the hardest challenges he has faced.  He did not realize how difficult it was to stay behind. 
And yes, I am planning.  My plans are how to decorate my house in yellow ribbons inside and out.  Not to mention the red, white and blue that will surround us the year he is overseas.  I am planning on seeing him off where he will receive his final training before he deploys. Naturally I do not even know where that will be yet, but I will be there. And I am planning for when he comes home on leave, making my list for what to send him while he is deployed, and planning for the day when he comes marching home again. 
This was first published on 4/17/2011 at

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