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I’m a military wife and mom—and I’m so lucky

As hard as this lifestyle can be, the level of pride I feel for the men and women of the Armed Forces is off-the-charts.

I’m a military wife and mom—and I’m so lucky

You could say I'm experienced with the military lifestyle. One grandpa was a Marine, one grandpa was in the Navy. My step-dad and brother-in-law are Air Force technicians. My dad was a Navy pilot, and my husband is a flight officer in the Navy.

My husband and I didn't see each other during the month of April for the first six years of our relationship. He missed every other month of our daughter's first year of life. I've said goodbye countless times and will say goodbye countless more.

We've had wrenches thrown in our family planning as we missed yet another ovulation time frame. He had to leave my pregnant self behind when hurricanes were hitting us to make sure the Navy planes were safe—twice!

I've had to explain that daddy is still gone for work to little ones that have no concept of how long a month is.

And yet, I'm one of the luckiest Navy wives I know. We haven't had a major deployment (six to nine months long) in years. He has been present at the births of both our daughters.

You think you can't wait for your overdue baby to make her way into the world? Try having a countdown when your husband will deploy for eight months and see how much spicy food you'll eat and how many long walks you'll take to get those contractions going!

I have friends whose husbands haven't met their babies until they are three months old. We haven't faced any injuries in the field or serious illnesses at home. Our kids are young enough that we haven't had to move in January and disrupt a school year.

Growing up, I said that I didn't want the military lifestyle . I didn't want to move all the time, and I didn't want to constantly have to say goodbye and watch my kids miss their daddy.

But then I met my future husband, and those plans went out the window.

He was worth it, and now that I'm a spouse, I see so much more of what this lifestyle entails.

Yes, my daughters will miss their daddy, and he will miss them. But they see how much he loves them with each return hug, each video he tapes for them when he is gone, each moment he makes sure he is fully present for when he is home.

We went to a friend's birthday party recently, and every baby there was being held by a military dad. They have to take their quality time when they can get it!

The goodbyes aren't just with my husband though. Military life is a lifestyle, and most of my friends also have spouses in the military since we are normally based in a "military town." And that means that I am always saying goodbye to one of them too, or my daughter is saying goodbye to a friend that is moving.

We try to say, "Goodbye for now," because there is a chance we will be stationed at the same base at a later date. I actually got mad when one of my non-military friends moved because she was supposed to be one of my guaranteed friends!

The military world is filled with love though. Watch YouTube videos of homecomings and see the outpouring of affection from people that are each other's everything—on second thought, don't watch them or you won't be able to see out of your puffy, still-crying eyes tomorrow.

I saw my 2-year old tell my husband, "I love you so much, Dada," when he returned from a long trip. She had never even said anything with that much emotion to me!

Every time he comes back, it has a rejuvenating effect on our marriage. It's hard to get annoyed with someone when you just spent the past six weeks praying for their safety and hoping time flies by. Even if you do still get annoyed by how he leaves every cabinet and drawer open, you missed him so much you bite your tongue for a little while. And at least I can see how hot he looks in a flight suit again.

As hard as the separation can be, the level of pride I feel for the men and women of the Armed Forces is off-the-charts. Their knowledge and dedication protects those of us on the homefront.

Thank a veteran for their service. Let them know that you are grateful, and that all the time spent training and abroad was appreciated.

It can be a hard life for our soldiers, living in barracks and on ships, apart from the people they love, facing danger to protect our country. We will most likely have another deployment coming up in the next couple of years. Our kids will be older and will have to learn what it is like to have daddy gone for a very long time.

But I know that when he leaves, our family's love will grow while he is gone, and hopefully that thought brings him home safely and quickly.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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