My husband proudly served our country for eight years, and I still count those as the toughest years of my life. From the separation to the crippling fear to the just straight up loneliness, those years transformed my world. While I was only a mom for three of those eight years, I can say with confidence that once being a parent came into the picture, military life got even harder. Not only was I upset, lonely, and afraid sometimes, but now had to help my daughter with her emotions and feelings when daddy had to leave.
Military life is hard, and it’s hard to describe until you’ve really experienced it. It can be hard to relate to a military mom and sometimes you can feel like you just don’t know how to support her. In honor of National Military Appreciation Month, here are just a few ways to help a military mom in her time of need:
5. Speak positivity over her. Military life can come with a whole host of worries. I know how days of not talking to your spouse, wondering where they are, and hoping they are safe can quickly cause a downward mental spiral. Positivity can make a world of difference! Help ease her nerves, offer to talk to her on the phone, or even come over for a visit to help her focus on the good things. Take her mind off the situation by perhaps going out to do something fun or engage in a new activity. Find new ways to entertain her children too. These things can help her to have a mental break during an otherwise stressful time.
4. Find ways to be her person. It can be so challenging to not have a spouse around. Special days like their birthday, anniversaries, and other milestones can be very tough. Doing daily tasks where her spouse would normally be present like a child’s school program, church, parties, even going to a movie can become very difficult and can fuel loneliness. Offer to go with her to these events. Sit by her, buy a ticket to go as her “plus one” to a show, or even offer to spend a night with her if you are able. Sometimes a little companionship can go a long way for someone who may be feeling lonely. Your children can provide the same companionship to her children as well.
3. Care for her children. Whether you have five minutes or five hours, offer to care for her children. Most likely a military mom has been single parenting for a while and needs a bit of reprieve. If you are unable to provide the care, perhaps help find her a babysitter than can help.
2. Be understanding. Things will most likely look different for a military mom when it comes to many things. Schedules can be crazy with deployments, trainings, and drill weekends. Be sensitive to the fact that the times her spouse is home that family time will become the ultimate priority. Emotions can also be out of control from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. Ask her how she’s really doing and let her cry or celebrate with her depending on the circumstance. Her children may not seem like themselves or she may be struggling with parenting them she is probably weary from doing it alone for a season. Just give her your utmost understanding even when it can be hard to do so.
1. Actively love her in big and small ways. Buy her little gifts. Show up unexpectedly with dinner. Take her on a surprise night out. Give her a hug and let her know she’s doing a great job. Demonstrating your love for her through these acts will make all the difference to her through this challenging time of her life.
Hats off to you, fellow military moms! Thank you so much for your family’s tremendous sacrifice. May your village surround you during this time and may you know just how admired you are!