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What I’ve learned after 18 years of being an Army mom

Over 18 years ago, my son told me he was joining the Army. He had …


Over 18 years ago, my son told me he was joining the Army. He had big dreams of serving our great nation and becoming a helicopter pilot. 

When I heard his news, my mind filled with fears and other imagined thoughts. Where would I find the courage to see my child leave to serve our nation?

I did find the courage. As my child started his journey from civilian to soldier, I started my own journey. It was one I didn’t plan for. I wasn’t sure how to transition through my overwhelming emotions. 

I had too many moments of dealing with feelings I never had before. As my son went through the various phases of his career—basic training, AIT, overseas duty stations, and combat deployments—I resolved to build my strength and resilience. I wanted to be the best version of myself.

Over the years, I’ve learned to find joy in my Army mom journey through some valuable lessons.

Army mom life doesn’t get easier

You may think that as time passes, things automatically get easier. They don’t on their own. Your response to these events is what makes the difference.

We can choose to become stronger when we defeat the challenges in life.

The first time I sent my soldier into harm’s way, I was an emotional wreck. I didn’t know what to expect and my fears got the best of me.

As you navigate the rollercoaster of emotions, give yourself permission to be angry, cry, or be sad. The key is this: let those moments be moments and then carry on with your life.

You cannot change your soldier’s career path, military orders, deployments, or locations. You can change how you react to these events by setting your sights on becoming the best version of you.

army mom lessons
Photo by Maj. Michelle Lunato

Find like-minded Military Moms

If you’ve ever felt like your friends don’t understand how you feel, you are not alone. One of the most important steps I took was to find a local group of military moms. They would be my safe-place for years to come.

These are women who will understand and share your heart’s deepest fears. They are the women who will help lift you up when you feel impossibly down.

I cherish the friendships I’ve developed through military mom groups. They’ve helped me navigate the dark times and celebrate the good ones.

Stay active

One powerful tool to feel your best and boost your mood is regular exercise. Exercise may sound like a scary word if you’ve not included it in your life before. It doesn’t have to be. 

Getting out and moving your body can be as simple as walking for 20 minutes a few times a week. If you are up for a challenge, you can run a 5K and train for it ahead of time, do Yoga, or perform strength exercises at a gym. 

Whichever you choose, make it purposeful and do it to the best of your ability. 

Exercise is a great stress reliever. 

When my son deployed to Afghanistan, I was worried beyond any worry I experienced before. The tears and fears I experienced were not helping me in life. I didn’t know what to do, so I began a disciplined exercise routine. 

My body and mind felt better. I ran two 5K races and focused on my daily training which helped break the cycle of intense stress and anxiety. In turn, other aspects of my life started to improve. By the end of that year-long deployment, I experienced a real change in my emotional and mental strength.

Just get moving.

Learn something new

The military was foreign to me. I realized that I had little knowledge about military careers, deployments, or military life in general.

I set a goal to educate myself on many aspects of the military. The more I learned, the less I feared. My self-education combined learning from an academic standpoint and understanding my soldier’s experiences through his eyes. 

I started out simply: Army acronyms and military time. I moved on to understanding the makeup of Army battalions and the real deal about deployments.

Every bit of information helped me to release my fears. 

Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

Focus on personal growth

I like to look at life as a constant process of exploration and development. Being able to recognize those things that don’t serve my mental toughness was a good lesson.

I remember one day my Dad and I were shopping for care package items during my soldier’s combat deployment. We talked about wanting the year-long deployment time to pass quickly. 

At that moment, I realized that wishing the year away was not the answer. The time would pass anyway and how I lived each moment would make all the difference for me and my family. 

The answer for me was to savor and live each moment of life to the fullest, regardless of what was going on.

We have no control over their military orders but we can choose how we will respond. I chose to respond by living life to the fullest no matter what. 

Focusing on the little things that make me smile helped me live a more intentional life.

Turn to God for Prayer and Peace

More faith and less fear was one way that helped to lift the weight of worry from my mind. My son’s chosen military career was a difficult transition for me that often drained my energy and motivation. 

God’s truth became more real to me when I found myself alone and confused on this military mom journey. I turned to prayer and praise to the Lord to renew my strength and help protect my son.

As we both journeyed through this new season of life, I learned to place my child in God’s loving hands.

God is on the journey with you, holding your hand if you let Him.

Photo by Senior Airman Gracie Lee

It’s an Honor to be an Army Mom

Being the mom of an Army service member is an honor. In the early years, I was so wrapped up in overwhelming emotions it was a challenge to find joy in my soldier’s dedication to serving our great nation. 

Over the years, I’ve learned to find joy in this journey and share my heart with others. 

Do I still worry? Yes. Do I still deal with fears that roam my thoughts during deployments? Absolutely. 

The difference lies in purposeful efforts to renew my strength and find new ways to deal with and react to challenging situations.

I wish you much joy and peace as you navigate your Army mom life!

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