When I went from military to mom I didn’t know what to expect. I had thought my deployment to Afghanistan had prepared me for anything that life could throw at me. But then I became a mom and life wasn’t anything like what I expected. And the constant self-doubt and continual change to my schedule and life with a baby in the mix had me constantly on my toes. Trying to figure out what was coming next. And although that year was hard it taught me so much. So many things that made me who I am today. I realize if life had been as easy as I expected I would not be where I am today. Just like pre-Amanda was never the same Amanda after deploying to Afghanistan. Pre-Amanda before motherhood molded and shaped her into something new would never be the same. And as hard as that first year was, I am so thankful for it now.
Here is my reflection of Military to Mom written as my first Mother’s Day approached. My oldest was about 11 months old.
My first Mother’s Day is fast approaching. It still amazes me that I have been a Mom for almost a year. Do you ever stop and think how quickly time has passed since you became a mom?
When my son was about 4 months old on a flight home, the passenger sitting next to me said, “the days are long, but the years are short.” You know a little bit about the days being long at that point in your motherhood journey. But do you really know when someone says the years are short? I mean it hasn’t even been a year yet for me, but my son will be one in less than a month. Looking back, I can still remember counting down the days to his arrival. It feels like it was only yesterday.
What have I learned in my short year of being a Mom?
First off, I learned how hard it is. In general, people portray being a Mom as being amazing. Which it is, but rarely are you let in on the secret of how hard it will be. And even when they do try and warn you about how much your life is going to change you just don’t understand. It is a huge life adjustment and after the initial excitement and meals go away. There you are still living life. A new life that you may not truly be ready for or even understand what the change means. It is a new life you are stuck with. You can’t ever go back to the way it was before you had kids. Deep down you are happy about that even if you don’t exactly know why. I struggle with finding understanding in the why, but I do hope one day it will come. Maybe as he grows life won’t be so challenging and I can find a way to enjoy the moments and begin to let go.
Another thing I learned was how your life will completely change.
Change in ways you just can’t understand until your blessing arrives. Even thinking now about how life was and how it is now I can’t put the monumental changes into words. It is more than just not being able to do whatever you want at a moment’s notice. It is something inside you that changes who you are and who you are becoming. And at the time it is really challenging. You wonder will I ever sleep normal again. This is a thought that still plagues me even though I seem to get more sleep than I did a few months before. I thought I was tired when I was deployed. Schedules were crazy, nights were sometimes full of interruptions. But somehow I quickly learned to sleep through most of the noise and find a normal. But you can’t block nightly feedings and the other regular interruptions that make the sleep you crave to come back to your life.
I also have had a hard time finding a way to take care of myself. I constantly feel like I need a break, but then when I get a break I feel this twinge of guilt that I’m not there. It is something I am working on letting go of. But it is a struggle to find the balance I need to take care of me.
Lastly, I learned how much I didn’t know about being a parent.
You can read books. You can get advice from friends. But until you have your child in your arms, you don’t know what kind of parent you will be. I have had a few “ah-ha” moments of understanding. In my reflection of situations, it amazes me how oblivious I was to how much work being a Mom is. In the military, you are taught to have a plan with various courses of action and you adapt the plan based on what you have war-gamed. But just like in war sometimes with parenting you have to throw the whole plan out the window. But somehow I was trained for those experiences in the military. I didn’t know that I would have to throw the plan out the window so often as a new mom. That there would be so much adapting and course correction.
This ends my reflection of Military to Mom
Before my son was born I had many titles, Airman…Captain…Professional Engineer. Things I was so proud of. People were even impressed with my many accolades. But those accomplishments were just things that I did with a little bit of hard work. And while I’m still proud of all the work I did while I served America. I am so thankful for taking off my uniform to be a mom. It was hard to go from military to mom. But now I know it was worth it.