Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Part 3: The Ups & Downs of Being a Navy Mom

This is the third part of a series focused on the different stages and options associated with having a family in the Military.




Part 3: Being a Navy Mom

Mom’s the Word
By
The Sailor’s Woman
Nanette Field
US Pacific Fleet via Flickr cc

My Sailor and I always knew we wanted children...someday.  The Navy nudged us towards taking the plunge when we were posted to an area with high unemployment.  Despite my brand new Master’s Degree, the only work I could find was as a hostess at a pancake house.  Since my career was on hold, it seemed like a good time to try for a baby.

Woo hoo!  I soon got pregnant and we were both thrilled...that is until my Sailor learned he might be leaving for eight months.  That’s right—almost the exact length of a pregnancy.  Did I mention we’d been posted across the country from friends and family, I was newly pregnant and my Sailor was going away?

I learned that it’s crucial for a Navy mom to find a support network.  Since this was our only baby, I didn’t need someone to care for older children while I was in the hospital, but we had a pampered pooch who couldn’t be left alone for three to five days.  Two amazing Navy wives stepped up:  one volunteered to take Nelson (yes, we named her after the admiral) and the other to accompany me to prenatal classes and even be my birth coach.  (My birth coach!  If you find a friend this supportive—hang on to her!)  Luckily, my Sailor’s deployment was cancelled so he was around to experience the magic of my raging hormones and labour anxiety.

As a Navy wife you’ve already had to learn to kill your own spiders when your Sailor disappears for months at a time.  That doesn’t stop when you have kids.  If your life is anything like mine, things always go wrong the first week he’s away.  (Muffler falls off the back of the car—check!  Basement floods—check!  Freak blizzard in October—check!) 

Stuff will still happen, but once you have kids you’ll have sticky little fingers clinging to the back of your coat while you deal with these challenges.  You’ll find your creativity and problem-solving skills put to the test—like when I bundled up my infant and buckled him into the car for his afternoon nap because I was afraid to leave him in the house alone while I shoveled the drive way. 

Sailor holds his newborn baby for the first time during a homecoming.
Official US Navy Page via Flickr cc
As in yoga, flexibility is key when you’re a Navy mom.  We all enter motherhood wanting the best for our children.  You may start planning everything from your baby’s nursery decor to his or her post-secondary education before you are even get pregnant.  That’s sweet—as long as you don’t get too hung up on the details.  

I always imagined my Sailor would be around for our boy’s first birthday.  That’s a pretty big milestone, right?  Turns out his ship was sailing to Hawaii that summer so I had to plan a party on my own.  (This was more challenging than it sounds since my Sailor is the social one in our marriage.)  I shook off my initial disappointment and took lots of pictures so I could share the experience with my Sailor.  There’ve been other instances where my Sailor’s absence has put a dent in family plans—too many to list!  Don’t make yourself miserable by focusing on what doesn’t go right. 

Life as a Navy mom is never boring!  Things you can’t even imagine will go wrong.  Instead of seeing challenges, look upon them as opportunities to excel.

And remember—you’re strong enough to handle whatever life throws your way.

                
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Nanette
The Sailor's Woman
Hi, I’m Nanette.  Like most women, I wear many hats.  I’m a mom, a teacher, a Canadian Naval Officer’s wife, a blogger at The Sailor’s Woman and a novelist.

I have degrees from the University of British Columbia and the University of Moncton. I began writing as a child and I've published many short stories and essays.

In June my husband left for Afghanistan.  Before going overseas he was out of the province for about six weeks training for his adventure.  It’s been a long haul and it’s not over. Field lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.


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