Military life is full of unique challenges, from deployments and separations, to a deep sense of patriotism. As a military mom, a single day can take you through a full range of emotions.
You experience it all, including friends who don’t quite understand and military moms who share your heart.
Everything in life can take on new meaning when your child joins the military. You may start seeing things a little different.
You Know You’re a Military Mom When:
1 . You smile if the phone rings and wakes you from a deep sleep.
I can’t tell you how many nights I prayed for the phone to ring in hopes that my soldier would be on the other end. That’s a far cry from the days where I cherished a good night of sleep and turned off my phone ringer. When that call finally came, waking me out of deep slumber, I wore a smile from ear to ear.
If you keep your phone close by with the ringer on high at bedtime, know that you aren’t alone!
2 . You know and speak in Military Time.
When my son started his military career, military time became his standard. It’s based on the 24-hour clock and takes some getting used to! That was over 15 years ago. After much memorization and charts, I started thinking and speaking in military time. It actually makes more sense to me!
Keep a military time conversion chart handy and you’ll be fluent in no time!
3 . You always say, “See you later!” because goodbye is too final.
I’ve lost count of how many times I hugged my son before a deployment or a PCS to another country. The thought of saying “goodbye” felt so final, like a conclusion at the end of a story. We settled on saying “see you later,” which implied “until next time.” Each parting never gets easier but I always look forward to seeing him again.
When parting with your child, be mindful of the moment and how blessed you are in each other’s lives.
4. You get tears in your eyes when you hear the National Anthem.
One July 4 in a beautiful coastal city, I attended a parade celebrating our Independence. With smiles on their faces, people celebrated as a colorful, patriotic parade made their way through Main Street. To honor our military, hundreds of veterans and active duty military members took their places. As they passed by, the National Anthem played on, and unstoppable tears streamed down my face.
If you find yourself at a sports or patriotic event, don’t forget your tissues.
5. Holidays happen whenever your children are home and not according to the calendar.
One early November, a small Christmas tree sat in the corner of the room. It’s colored lights and decorative ornaments sparked delight for all. You could not mistake that our family was celebrating Christmas, with presents under the tree and a turkey dinner. Our celebration was just as meaningful although it wasn’t on the official day. What mattered most was that we were all together as a family, sharing love and cheer.
If your military child’s schedule doesn’t align with holidays (and they won’t), find unique ways to celebrate with new holiday traditions.
6. When a minute long phone call from your child makes your entire week better.
When my son went off to boot camp, I longed to hear from him. Worry and stress crept into my life as the days went by. One day, I went to a small town known for their fine apples and pie. As I strolled about with a friend, my phone rang. It was the call I’d been waiting for! Although it only lasted about 1 to 2 minutes, my smile lasted for days!
Every phone call from your child can give way to cherished moments and big smiles that last all week long!
7. You see men and women in military uniform and tears stream down your face.
Whenever I’m in an airport, I notice men and women in military uniforms. I want so much to thank them for their service to our country. I’ve learned to say it as a quiet prayer because the tears start streaming down my face. I get so choked up I can hardly speak a word.
Don’t forget your kit: sunglasses and tissues for the next time you find yourself somewhere with service members in uniform!
8. You leave your phone at home and turn right around to get it.
Having my phone on my person at all times became a new normal for me. I couldn’t imagine leaving home without it and missing a call from my soldier son. That’s exactly what I did on a run one beautiful Spring day. The moment I realized the phone wasn’t on my person, I ran all the way home to grab it and start my run again.
Repeat your new phone mantra: don’t leave home without it!
9. You know you raised one of America’s best.
Amid the worry and missing out on time spent together, I know in my heart that my son is one of the strong and brave who proudly serve to maintain our freedom. My heart overflows with pride, knowing that I raised one of America’s best!
Stand in solidarity with other military moms. We share the same deep seated pride, knowing our children are part of the greatest military in the world.
10. Two simple words—I’m OK—bring you joy.
Whenever my son deployed to a combat zone, I would create all types of crazy scenarios in my mind. I needed one thing, that is, to know that he was OK. We didn’t need to have a big conversation and I didn’t need details. I wanted to know that he was OK. Every few days I would receive the best message a military mom can hear: I’m OK.
Embrace the joy you’ll feel from those two little words that have a big meaning!
No matter where you are on your journey, being a military mom takes a special love, strength, courage, and a lot of patience. You’ll know and feel like a military mom as you traverse your unique journey.