Mommy Monday is a special tribute to our local Minnesota Moms. Pregnant in Minnesota likes to recognize the amazing women of our mom communities by showcasing them and their families. This month for our blog we have chosen a mother who is an active military member who recently returned home from serving overseas.
I met Emma while I was working at a local chiropractic office almost two years ago. She would come in with her daughter for adjustments after a long shift working as an LPN. Over time talking with her I found out she was a single mother who was also in the Army. She had mentioned drill on the occasional weekend but I didn’t think much more of that. I also learned that Emma had her daughter with her then boyfriend who was also a military member from out of state. When she told me she was going to be deployed overseas I was a little shocked. I didn’t fully grasp that she was an active member. My heart sunk for her. Mother to mother I knew this meant being away from her daughter.
Emma P. grew up in Cambridge, Minnesota and is a class graduate of 2011, which is the same year she enlisted in the United States Army. She has worked various local jobs and has stayed fairly close to home. When she was 23 years old, Emma gave birth to her daughter Luella who is now two years old. The best thing that Emma finds about being a mom is "having a mini me and all the laughs I get to share with her". The hardest thing she deals with as a mom is "wanting to spend every minute with [Luella]. I am getting better at this and realizing that because she is being raised in two homes doesn't make me any less of a mom".
As far as being a military mom, this past year is when Emma faced her biggest challenge. Her first deployment serving overseas for 12 months.
Here is my Interview with Emma:
Tell us about when and why you enlisted in the military?
I enlisted in the army in November of 2011. I enlisted because I always wanted to be a nurse and had always thought I wanted to be in the army. At the time I figured I was young enough to give it a try and if I didn't like it then it wasn't too long of a commitment and I wouldn't be missing out on too much.
How has being an active military member impacted you as a mother?
Up until July of 2018 it didn't impact me too much. I have actually made some of my best mom friends through the military. During my pregnancy 3 of my battle buddies were also pregnant. We all became close and surprisingly all had GIRLS. Drilling one weekend a month and 2 weeks in the summer wasn't too big of a deal. Many times I looked at my drill weekends as a little mom's get away weekend to catch up with my girlfriends. Fast forward to July of 2018 when I left for my first deployment. Man has this impacted Luella and I. We went from it being just us day in and day out to communicating only through the phone. We have had about an 8 hour difference in time zones. This has made it so we only get to talk every couple days to every couple weeks depending on what we have going on, on either end. Luella went to spend this time with her father who lives in Georgia. She has had so many changes and has done so well. I had a mother who was a stay at home mom and did everything for my siblings and I while my dad worked and was our biggest cheerleader. So my opinion on what a mom does and her role in the family has always been the care giver. With that being said this experience has taught me how to let go of a lot of things with Luella. I can say I have struggled with not feeling like "a good Mom" while being here. Mainly because I went from doing EVERYTHING for Luella to missing out on "the big things". I have missed multiple attempts with potty training, Santa visits, her first Easter egg hunt, her learning her colors, her creating her own opinions, to her creating full sentences and being able to hold a conversation. I have missed both my daughter's first birthday and her second. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to celebrate her 3rd birthday with her as it will be the first one I get to spend with her instead of the military! Thankfully we have a great support system and technology so my battle buddies and I have been able to sing to her both years. Her first birthday was the hardest I remember one of the Captains surprised me with a cake and candle for when we sang to her and I cried. It's amazing the feeling of family we have for each other while being away from our families. I love being a part of something bigger than myself. I hope that Luella one day sees and feels the same thing. Being in the military has also given me a greater appreciation for family. I would never be able to do what I do without the help, love, and support of my parents. They have sacrificed many days, nights, and money to help me with my daughter and or to go and visit her in my absence all while helping hold everything down for me stateside.
How many tours have you done serving the USA?
I am finishing up my first enlisted contract of 8 years in the Army Reserve this November and I will be reenlisting here sometime in the near future . My plan is to do the full 20 years.
How many of those have you spent away from your family/daughter?
This is my first deployment which has caused me to spend the most time away from my daughter. By the time I get home I will have been away for 10 plus months. Before this the most time we spent away from each other was 3 weeks at a single time for the train up to deployment.
Would you do it all over again?
I wouldn't change anything about being in the military. While it is difficult being away from my child it is single handedly the best thing helping me create a better life for her. It's actually the reason I am a mom at all. I met Luella's dad while drilling in the army reserve. So we share an actually pretty common situation with both parents serving. While he is active duty and stationed in Georgia with his family and I am in the reserves serving in Minnesota each has their own set of challenges.
What is it like (not only a woman but) as a mother serving overseas?
Challenging. However, I would be lying if I said it was all bad. While it hasn't been easy to be away from her it has taught me a lot about myself and what I can handle both physically and mentally. Let me be a little transparent here. I have over come many obstacles since being here. Things that should have been simple in most people's eyes because they are just basic soldiering tasks. When I left for deployment I was losing the battle with my weight and passing my PT test as many women do after having a child. I was also suffering with major anxiety related to my daughter moving so far away from my parents for the deployment to stay with her dad who is stationed in Georgia. Since being gone I have passed both of these events and come to peace with my daughter being in Georgia. Just because dad's do things different then us moms doesn't mean they love our babies any less just means they are men. Hahaha. I have enrolled in school to continue my education to become a BSN something I have been putting off for the fear of failure. I try to lead by example and watch out for anyone I can. Simply wanting the best for everyone around me. I think this is the mom in me that comes out while being a soldier. While being in Kuwait I spent my time in the clinic getting to know many soldiers and other service members building relationships and networking. Always trying to make people laugh because what else helps pass the time while being away from the people we love. I have found that being a mom has given me a great thing to relate to many other soldiers about. It has also given me the opportunity to talk to soldiers about their health and life choices. Then about halfway through I was switched to working in the hospital and was placed in the ICU/ICW. During this time we took care of one very bad car accident where 2 soldiers passed away and one was placed in a critical statues. One of the soldiers that passed away was a mother of 4. This was one of days that reminded me why we do what we do. At the same time it made me think a lot about all of the babies that we have back home and how sometimes as mothers we lose our patience too quickly with the little ones in our life or take the time we have with them for granted. One goal for myself as a mother when I get home is to put my phone down more and do more of what Luella wants.
When did you leave/return from your current tour? And where were you serving?
I left for Kuwait in July of 2018 and we will be back sometime around June of 2019.
Anything else you wish we should know or would like to share with us?
YES! I believe as mothers sometimes we forget how important our happiness or taking care of ourselves is. We simply can not give our children our all if we aren't whole. Everything is about balance. I would like to remind everyone reading this that parenting is a marathon not a sprint and our only goal should be to raise fully functional adults for society.
What jobs have you held outside of the active duty while home?
I serve in the united states army reserve so my full time job back home is working at the Ramsey VA Clinic as an LPN.
What do you like to do when home?
I am huge on friends and family. I enjoy spending my time with them. We love to do anything outdoors and to travel.
Note from the Author:
As a mother myself, I cannot imagine what is is like to be away from my child like that. I commend any and all parents, as well as their families, who sacrifice time away from home to serve their country.
I am very excited to hear back from Emma on how her reunion with her daughter is going to be like. What a wonderful time to return home (over Memorial Weekend).
From the deepest parts of our hearts we will always remember those who have served, thank those who are currently serving and are proud of those who will serve in the future.
Please remember what Memorial Day is really about. Thank a military member and their families for their devoted service.
Happy Memorial Day.