By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2011 - I'd like to welcome guest blogger Navy Lt. Tiffani Walker. In this blog, Walker writes about how she balances being a mother with being a military member, and the pride she feels in both roles. - Elaine Wilson
Guilt and Motherhood
By Tiffani Walker
Definition of tumultuous: riotous, turbulent, disturbed, moving across country with two small children while husband is 3,000 miles away.
Life has been tumultuous for me lately. I changed my career field and got a new job, I transferred from Washington state to Washington, D.C., I just received my household goods into our new home and I commute almost four hours a day, but all of those things are pretty "normal" for me.
What has me really spun up and wrung out is my other job, a mom to two amazing, beautiful germ-filled petri dishes that are my children.
I enlisted in the Navy 12 years ago when life was simpler and I was simpler. I had a sea bag full of things that were given to me and backpack full of things that were mine: a couple of pictures, a toothbrush and enough stuff to write home to mom and dad.
Wherever I went all I had to worry about was a small wallet to hold my brand new ID card and getting myself in to work the next day. Even when I moved, a new roll of toilet paper was provided to me. I can't remember what I did with all of my free time, but I wish I could find some of it now so I could figure out why I'm not hip anymore.
My children have changed my world and my daily calendar. I walk out the door with no less than five bags in the morning and my "free time" is now filled with things like "Cheernastics" and Mommy and Me swim, the smell of laundry and bleach wipes. I can't say that I would want it differently, but I can say that I am exhausted, kept moving through the days and weeks by guilt, my will to be a wonderful mother and diet soda.
Military moms have the regular parental guilt that comes from worrying if our kids have enough: enough interaction, enough activities, enough education, but we have more insidious guilt as well. The kind that sneaks into the house and sits at the dinner table when Mom or Dad is on duty (again) or on deployment. The kind of guilt that hangs around your neck like a weight when our child's arms haven't hung there for not just hours, but days, weeks and months.
I combat the guilt with simple things that I can control and try to let the rest go. It is a battle every day not to worry about the bigger things, but I manage by taking the time to breathe in the smell of baby formula and lotion when my son falls asleep in my arms at night and laughing when I see what books and stuffed animals my daughter has smuggled into her bed for the evening. My beautiful girl who talks of faraway places and has a section in her bookshelf dedicated to biographies and one to simply "Tinkerbell."
I take pride in my job and knowing that one day my kids will recognize that I got out of bed, put on a uniform that I was proud to wear, took them to day care and did the best I could everyday for them, for me and for my service. I hope they know I was lucky enough to be in the military and be their mother.