I am a brave woman, raised by an even braver woman. She is the perfect example of independence, strength, and love. Her bravery has overcome insurmountable obstacles many will never have to see. She was the buffer to the bad and put a smile on the truth. My mom carried the weight of the world, of our world, on her shoulders.
My mom was a military spouse. And now, here I am... a military spouse, too.
In America, I often see a continual flow of support for our military. From donations, to ribbons, to campaigns, social media, all of it. There seems to be a constant support for those who protect our freedoms. There seems to be a continual recognition of the brave sacrifices made by the men and women in uniform. I see that support. I appreciate that support. I hear the kind and grateful words, and I know people mean so well.
You see our partners. You see their uniforms. You see their sacrifice. You see them and thank them and recognize that they are contributing to society in a monumental way. Because they are—they really are.
Their uniform shows you their unwavering dedication to our country. Their uniform shows you that they are willing to sacrifice themselves, their families, their safety...all in the name of service. I have seen that uniform my entire life. I am forever grateful for that uniform and all that it represents.
Yet, there is still something discouraging in this for me. I do not wear a uniform. My children do not wear a uniform. But I simply want people know that we are here. We are a military family.
I am the one holding down the fort at home. I am paying the bills, raising the kids, running in circles and single-handedly keeping this family afloat. I am the one holding the crying kids and I am the one trying to establish the new normal. I often feel very alone. I am without a village, without family around, without my spouse a lot of the time.
I know that people often have no idea of the burden that I carry. I realize they cannot see the days that never end and our family's missing piece.
I know at first glance this does not look like much—my service is often invisible. A grocery shopping mom with two kids. A crying newborn in her cart. My postpartum body. My hair, a half-done messy bun. My eyes, these dark circles. I used to think this did not look like much either, but now I know.
To all of the other military mamas out there, please know that I see you. I understand.
I see your spirits breaking, yet I see your amazing strength.
I see you when you are discouraged because you are one parent trying to do the role of two.
I see you when you need encouragement, but your best friend just moved away.
I see you staying positive, even when everything is going wrong.
I see you juggling the baby, the bedtimes, and everything in between.
I see you giving all of yourself to everyone and feeling like you're not getting much in return.
And I understand that sometimes that makes you feel like you aren't enough. Like you're barely hanging on and you're doing so much, that you don't feel like you're doing anything right. But I want to tell you, mama—you are doing it.
I know that even as that messy looking mom, that trying to keep it together mom, I am enough . I was enough for that chaotic day. I am everything to my kids every day.
My boat sometimes feels like it's sinking and my world can often feel like it's spinning too fast. I was carrying the burden of being everything to everyone , and it made me feel like I was bending and breaking—and even then, I was still enough.
No matter the trial and no matter the struggle, I now know, that I will ALWAYS be enough.
And please know that you are enough, too. All moms are. We will always be enough for our children.
We are a military family. I am a military spouse. Our days are long. Our months seem to last forever. We are often alone. We are often breaking. While I wish my husband was home with us—we are making it work.
I want you to know that I am not here asking to be seen, nor am I asking to be thanked . I am simply writing this to share, to let people know that those incredibly brave soldiers are often supported by some incredibly brave people back home.
This story was published on November 12, 2018. It has been updated.