I always feel torn.
I’m the mom of two great kids, wife to a man who seriously should be canonized, owner of two small businesses, and a military Reservist. That’s right. Sometimes the civilian hat comes off and the Air Force hat goes on. When that happens, I travel away from my wonderful suburban life to go do something completely different.
First, let me describe things here at home. Our kids are 10 and 12. They attend a wonderful private school near our home. My husband is a defense contractor who works a fairly standard 45-55 hour week, but he’s often in a secure facility, which means he can be hard to reach during the day. I run two curriculum publishing businesses out of my home, and I have one employee: Miss Mary. She not only takes care of inventory and shipping, but she also cleans the house, does the laundry, and watches the kids after school when I’m not able to. I’m totally spoiled.
Now, let me describe the military side of my life. I entered the Air Force in 1998 and spent four years active duty. I’ve been a Reservist ever since and work as a public affairs officer. For the last 18 months I’ve been assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill AFB, Fla., and I’m the public affairs officer and narrator for the SOCOM Para-Commandos, a parachute demonstration team and the only joint military performance team in the United States. My Reserve duty time is spent attending air shows and large sporting events where my team is skydiving. I arrange their media interactions and narrate the show. The team is made up of special operators (Rangers, Green Berets, SEALs, etc.) who are not only fascinating to be around, but they’re really wonderful guys. They’re heroes.
I LOVE my Reserve job. REALLY love it. I joke that it’s my mental health break. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not torn every time I pack my uniforms and leave my family. Here are things that go through my head:
- Is it wrong to leave them to go have fun at a Reserve job I love?
- Would I not feel as torn if I didn’t enjoy Reserve duty so much?
- The kids were sad when I left. Is this the right thing for me to do?
However, here’s the real deal. My husband is awesome with the kids. When I’m gone, they get really quality one-on-one time with him. Mary makes sure he doesn’t have to leave work early, the family is fed, and the house stays picked up. While the kids express sadness when I leave and gladness when I return, I know from Mary and my husband that they’re fine when I’m gone — happy and healthy. So, here is what else goes through my head:
- The kids are learning to be independent in small chunks when I’m away.
- My husband and kids are proud that I serve my country and are truly happy for my successful military career.
- It’s okay for me to enjoy what I do when I’m not with them.
I’ll always feel torn, I think, but I tend to act more on realistic reasons than emotional ones. As moms it’s easy to fall into the trap of completely subjugating our wants, our goals, and our well-being for our families. My reserve duty forces me to take some time (roughly 45-50 days per year in four-to-six day chunks) and focus on what I enjoy, work to attain my goals, and maintain my happiness with fulfilling work outside the home. I’m eternally grateful for both the opportunity to serve and the opportunity to truly enjoy every minute of it.