I don’t know if you are aware, but this Saturday it is Armed Forces Day a day dedicated to raising awareness of the work done by British Armed Forces and giving people the opportunity to show their support for the whole Armed Forces community.
A few weeks ago my husband, daughter and I stayed with a family we have known for years, whilst our friend was getting ready for a posting. I was struck by what a job being a forces wife and mother is as my friend had to support her husband, prepare the children for Daddy’s absence and ready herself to be a single mum for the next little while. I wanted to write something for More than a Mum about how in awe I am of forces partners and how the role should come with it’s own job description, and then I came upon an idea. We decided that we should have posts from the Mums themselves explaining the highs and lows of being a wife and mother within the Services.
Our first post guest post comes from Karen and she tells us the challenges of giving up on some of your own dreams in order to support your family.
I was in the Forces and with my husband long before I was a mum so you would think I would be more prepared than most for being a Forces wife and mother – how wrong I was!
There is something very unique about being married to someone in the Armed Forces. What they do is not just a job. It is a vocation, a passion and something which can quickly become all encompassing. You, as a wife and mother, have to take a big step back from the person you were to become the person you have to be. I, for one, was a successful business person with ambition and drive and a passion to carry on being successful. This, however, is very difficult when you are moved every two years to a different base and, often, a different country. Employers are understandably reluctant to take on an employee on whom they would spend time and money on who will move on in less than 18 months. Running your own business is almost impossible.
But, by far, the biggest challenge is being a Force’s mum. There are some jobs in the military when your husband comes home every night at 5.30pm having left at 8am – almost like an ordinary family – but these are few and far between. My husband is a fast jet navigator and has been away from his family on many, many occasions; from training missions in Las Vegas to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a mum you are thrown into the role of single mother without being surrounded by your support network of family and close friends. You have to be there for your child whilst desperately needing support yourself. No-one teaches you how to explain to your child that Daddy is fighting the bad guys and might not come home or, if he does, that it might take a bit of time to get back to being normal Daddy again.
You have to be able to run the house and the finances and everything else but be able to give up some of that power when your husband returns. It is a juggling act that you have to become an expert in very quickly.
When you hear of our brave men and women on the front line in Afghanistan please remember there are also families back in the UK fighting their own battles every day.
Thanks for Karen for providing us with such a powerful opening blog. If you want to find out more about Armed Forces Day, click here. We’ll have more stories of highs and lows from Forces Mums over the course of the week. If you’d like your story to feature, you can either comment here or send us your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to hear from you.