by Amanda, Guest Contributor
When I was tagged with my deployment to Afghanistan one of the first things someone suggested to me was to try and find a way to get out of it.
Get pregnant or say I was hurt or something, anything to not have to go, but in my mind I had signed up to serve my country. I had signed the dotted line saying whatever you ask I will do. I could not and would not go against my integrity and try to get out of the deployment tagged for me. Even when I was given an opportunity to back out and have someone take my place, I chose to go.
My deployment was not what I had expected to be tasked with when joining the Air Force. This was an Army augmented deployment and when I Googled Provincial Reconstruction Team, one of the first articles I found was about an engineer out on a mission getting shot in the arm. My excitement was dissuaded. Shall we say…good feeling gone.
Before I left, people had told me deploying was just like being on a business trip. I think they were down playing the emotional strain that deployments take. My yearlong deployment changed everything about my future and the choices I made. Deployment changes you, often for the better, but it is still a change you have to deal with. You likely won’t be the same person when you return.
So when I got pregnant with my son and knew my deployment window would pop back green about 6 months after his arrival, the only question was when was I leaving my Air Force career. Not if, when.
I knew staying in the military was saying yes to whatever the Air Force asked of me and that would likely be more than I would want to give. So for me the choice to leave the Air Force was an easy one. Well it was an easy decision, it was not easy to leave behind who I had become and the identity I would leave behind. That is why it was harder to choose to stay home with my son than it was to actually leave the military.
I did not fully understand or appreciate the role of a military spouse and mom.
The hard days…The only thing I saw was play dates and boredom to accompany my days. And leaving behind the person who was so much more, a contributor to society, a leader, engineer, with accolades and all.
I fought my choice to stay home after deciding to leaving the Air Force by going to one career fair after another, with each one bringing me understanding of the sacrifice working moms require.
Flexibility of schedules would be gone and commuting and traveling would be required. So after realizing the transition would work better if I decided to spend some time at home after my little ones’ arrival, I made the choice to stay home. My plan was to start looking for a job again in January 3 months after leaving active duty.
But then you know how life goes when you have a husband who is in the military. Plans change.
The first big blow was the 8 weeks of training 8 weeks after my son arrived. Parenting an infant alone seriously almost killed me and at the least definitely humbled me. The books were not helpful and were probably causing more anxiety and stress. The child was not sleeping and each day felt like I was climbing a mountain only to fall back down each night and start all over again. Somehow we made it through.
The thought of having to work full time and manage an infant with my husband far way seemed like more than a Herculean task.
Let’s push that job hunt back a few months more. And then as I started to find my footing the Air Force threw us another unexpected curve ball, a move to a new city and town. We weighed the pros and cons of working or staying at home and no matter how we racked and stacked everything, the choice to continue to stay home always won in the end.
Now I am neck deep in laundry, chores and fun. I would not change anything, well except maybe his sleep habits. I am learning more each day and growing and changing.
Being a stay-at-home mother isn’t really where I expected to end up and definitely not what I thought it would be, but it the best choice for our family now so it is the best choice for me.
Did you trade military service for motherhood? What factors did you take into considerations when making this decision?
Hi I’m Amanda! I am a former Air Force member who has transitioned to being a stay at home mom and Air Force wife. My husband and I met in college in our military training program. Since then, we have lived in New Mexico and Ohio and now California. Our son joined our family in the summer of 2013. I blog at Airman2Mom with stories incorporating life experience from motherhood and daily life while occasionally throwing in my past letters home from my Afghanistan deployment. My goal is to inspire others on their life journey and hopeful find some encouragement along the way. I love making new friends and would be honored if you followed my blog, liked my Facebook page and followed me on Twitter.