Maryland Women's Heritage Center

How to Adapt to Being a Military Mom by Julia Dye

Being a military mom is tough. You’re probably not wealthy and you’re probably alone a lot. It is not for the small of heart. You will have to say a lot of goodbyes—but you will also have the best hellos ever.

Learn to be flexible. Semper Gumby! There is no guarantee of anything in the future, except change. When you really absorb that, you will be able to plan for change, rather than planning for a specific outcome. The best gift you can give your kids is the ability to cope with change—because if they choose a military life or not, change will be in their future.

Accept that you will need to live with ambiguity. It's hard! We don't like the ambiguous, and are in fact happier to have a bad outcome that's certain then a maybe with unknown results. It can be very uncomfortable, and add anxiety to an already stressful life. You will have to make decisions without having all the information you might think you need. Make the decision anyway! You can change your mind and your direction later, because you have learned to be flexible. Action is empowering.

Know that you are not alone, no matter how you feel. The beauty of the military life is that there are so many resources available to you. Get to know a chaplain that feels comfortable to you. And there are over a million military moms in this country. You are a part of an amazing tribe of women, and they want to know you.

You've got to be practical and you've got to handle all the adult stuff. Have a will, and make sure it's current. Understand if you need to have power of attorney for your deployed spouse. Have enough life insurance. You won't want to deal with any of this stuff on the day that you need it.

Cut your spouse, your kids, and yourself some slack. Some days things won't work right. Take care of yourself. You know about the oxygen mask on the airplane, right? Put your mask on first. Eat right, take a bath, do what you need to do so you can be there when your family needs you. And everyone in your family will be overwhelmed at times—let them handle it as they need to without over-reacting.

Bloom where you're planted. You may not live where you expected. You might be far from family. You might be in a different country. Pick one thing that works for you to feel at home. One set of curtains that you love that you take from place to place can ground you there. And then find a way to flower.

Julia Dye
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