About Rebecca Yarros & her Blog
Rebecca is a winner of Top 25 Military Moms - 2012
What do you love about being a military mom?
I love the sense of pride my kids feel for what their dad does, and watching them grow to accept and conquer the unique challenges of being a military child. We're blessed to experience moving, exploring new places, making new friends, and reconnecting with old ones. Our children are quick to adapt, to grow. They don't waste time before making new friends, and they are stronger than they appear.
The challenges of this lifestyle offer us, as moms, the opportunity to teach our children so much about tradition, and honor, and sacrifice, but also about the amazing compassion and over-all world mission that our military partakes in.
One thing that can be difficult to remember is that we are not "single" parents, even when our husbands deploy. We may be the sole caretakers, but I am blessed to have a husband with whom I can share my worries and my laughter even when he is deployed thousands of miles away. One thing I truly love about being a military mom is the strength of communication I have with their father, which only makes us stronger parents and better role models for our children.
That's not to say it is easy for them. Military children are often uprooted, missing their parents, and are presented with situations that children of civilians are not. But that gives us the opportunity as mothers to raise children of grace, dignity, spontaneity, and incredible strength. While it's hard for me to comfort the tears when their father deploys, I've never seen anything so beautiful as the joy that radiates from them when he returns. My children teach me about love, and patience, and understanding just as much as I try teach them.
What advice would you give to moms on how to build a new support circle after a move?
My best advice would be to first try out your FRG. This is a group of women who will be enduring the same training and deployment schedule as you are, and therefore may be more understanding of the worries and challenges you face. Plus, you'll be sitting side by side at a ton of company functions, so play nice, and you just might make a terrific friend! But, if you're anti-FRG, then there are still plenty of options that don't usually include bake sales.
Another way to build a post-pcs support network is to introduce yourself to neighbors, find a new job, or join a spouses club. As we are often stationed thousands of miles from family, it's very important to form bonds of mutual support, and it doesn't always have to be another military spouse who lends you an ear. Sometimes it does us a world of good to step back from our lifestyle.
However, I would really recommend that you "date" your friends. Give it a few play-dates and lunches, and determine if your interests and attitudes match up. My best friend here at Drum met me twice and said, "Oh, you're the one with all the boys, right?" I nodded, and she replied, "I've decided we're going to be friends." At first, I thought she was packing crazy, but I'm so thankful that I gave her a chance. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, but don't throw yourself into the deep end of the ocean, you might find icebergs.
Another issue is that of supporting our children with new friends. Getting them into school soon after a PCS often helps them find routine, structure, and yes, friends! Boy/Girl scouts, community sports, and library events are also great ways to get your little one out there. And with those new little friends can come some great mommy friends too! Just be sure to "date," because chances are your kids will pick up their kids' habits, so make sure they're ones you'd want around your house.
It can be hard to get out there after a PCS, but the sooner we put down roots at our new duty stations, the taller we grow and are able to support other spouses who are experiencing the same changes.
What's a tip for helping kids cope with a parent's absence?
Keep lines of communication open. We keep a separate box available to our kiddos for instant "letters to dad," where they can send their dad a picture or a letter whenever they want. Always allow them to express their sadness or worry, and validate their feelings. They're little people with big emotions, and it's our role as mothers to help them process those feelings, especially the negative ones. They might lash out, they might be grumpy, they might pretend that they don't care, but they do, and it's important for us to recognize their moods and emotions so we can provide the best support for them.
Daddy dolls are hugely popular in this house. It gives them something to snuggle with at bedtime with their dad's face on them, and a tangible reminder of his face. Plus, they're just super cute.
In our house, we countdown with M&M's. Each child gets one M&M per night in the jar (yes, I count out 365 M&M's times four), and then as they eat their one M&M per night, they have a visual reminder of how long until daddy comes home. It helps them to understand the length of time.
To help them understand feelings, we read a lot of deployment books, and pause for questions. One favorite of our pre-schoolers is "Over There." It really helps them to grasp the concept that daily life continues for their dad even though he's far away.
We also do our best to keep my husband accessible to them. Predictable Skype calls (as best they can, it's the military, after all), letters, phone calls, all let the kids know that he's not "gone," he's just not physically present in the house. He's still available to walk them through pinewood derby cars, or on skype during baseball games, or as much as he can when they need him. We do our best to make sure that it's only distance that separates them, and not emotion.
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