I thought I knew what it meant to be in a combat zone. You see I deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and even got shot at on a mission off base. Then I became a mom. I thought this would be easy when compared to my deployment. I mean I had gone to war. But unlike war where there are breaks and in my case relative areas of safety and what I would call a break. At least a mental break. But the mental challenge in motherhood doesn’t allow for breaks.
Especially the first year where you are trying to find your new identity and take care of this new person who relies on you for everything. There is so much joy, exhaustion, and trials it is hard to compare. Unless you have been to war and know the mental strain a war zone causes and realize how many similarities you feel in those first few months. Who knew how hard it would be. Motherhood changed everything.
I always thought deploying to Afghanistan would be the hardest thing I would have to do. Away from my family, my country, all that was familiar and there were people who wanted to kill me just outside the fence line. I was a female, an engineer, and pretty much everything you were not supposed to be.
A Combat Zone?
But deploying was just an experience. An undertaking, not small by any means, but now that it is over and years later. Now I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t so overwhelming after all. Or maybe that is what my mind now tells me to believe right now, I as I dream of sleep-filled nights, a body that is my own, and just a minute to sit and do nothing.
I wonder if these first few years of motherhood will look similar to how I look back to deployment now. It wasn’t so bad. I got through it. Who knows, I might even do it again. I wonder what lessons from the first will guide me through my second child. Because I know this is true, it is already happening. I can’t put my finger on what was so hard about those first few months. Instead, I remember the good things that happened. Not the blow out diapers and hard days full of tears. Instead, I remember the joy when he learned to latch or rollover. The first giggles when Daddy said “Boo!”
A year of so much struggle and change. But with each day comes a new memory and sometimes even more sleep. It makes it easier to remember those happy moments and forget the hard things I struggled through.
The same thing can be said of my memories from my deployment. I remember fun e-mail exchanges, pizza at the Italian store (a Sunday night tradition), a helicopter flight during the day, deep friendships that still carry on.
Who would have thought there was such a deep connection between living in a combat zone and surviving your first year of parenting? Had you told me that the two could be evaluated some months down the road, I would have told you that you were crazy. But now I know. There something so much deeper than being a parent that can not be put into words.
If you are a Mom and think what you are doing isn’t monumental. Know that isn’t true. There is nothing that compares to who you are and what you do.