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What military wives want you to know

1. They're damn resilient, but they are also human.

What military wives want you to know

Memorial Day—the "unofficial kickoff of Summer"— is a wonderful three-day weekend for most American families. But for military families, the national holiday, which memorializes those who lost their lives in service to the nation, holds special significance.


We (Jill and Liz, co-founders of Motherly) are military wives. Our husbands are both are graduates of the United States Naval Academy, and each served multiple deployments in far-flung corners of the globe. Liz's husband Colin still serves the Navy Reserves; Jill's husband Pete was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2014. Many of our friends remain on active duty around the world, and we are holding them and all military families, particularly those who have lost their loved ones in military service, in our hearts this weekend.

As Americans observe Memorial Day, we're sharing research and wisdom from military spouses.

Here's four things that military wives want you to know:

1. They're damn resilient, but they are also human

After more than a decade of war, many military families have experienced the separation and stress of repeated dangerous deployments to war zones and support missions. Military spouses and experts note that many families have found meaning and purpose in the service member's work, a value system that helps to build resilience in these families. "Many Army families savor the positives, survive the hardships, and blossom into resilient families within an often demanding environment," one report found.

However, researchers also note that "some families, especially young families, are bombarded by stressors that overwhelm already meager personal resources." Military spouses (95% of military spouses are wives) experience higher rates of depression and anxiety than civilians, particularly when their spouses are deployed to dangerous situations. Their children also struggle and many plan their military careers in ways that help give their children maximum possible stability. But the reality is that for most military families, moving every two-to-three years can be the norm. A sizable number of spouses struggle to find flexible work that accommodates the constant uprooting. Despite all of that, military spouses remain symbols of strength for many Americans, and for good reason. They have to do it all on the home front, often under high stress, and with little appreciation.

Want to help a military spouse during a deployment? Writes Army wife and journalist Kate Shellnut, "Instead of saying, 'tell me if you need anything,' be there to recognize a family's needs and make specific offers."

2. They're bringing sexy back

Okay, so this one is less serious, but have you ever tried to cram nine months of alone time with your partner into one week-long leave session? HOT. Military wives do it all the time. (Literally.) Military spouses fell in love with a person who happened to be in the military, so they find ways to work their love lives around this reality. Speaking of: Have you ever tried to bring an XL luggage bag full of lingerie and chic new outfits to your first visit with your spouse in nearly six months only to have the airline lose your bag and then wind up wearing your husband's military sweatshirt around Europe for seven days straight? Okay, me neither. Let's just say military wives know how to bring it. As long as Swiss Airlines cooperates. (Read more 'Sexually Deprived Spouse Confessions' at MilitarySpouse.com)

3. They're independent

Military vernacular might refer to the spouses and children of service members as "dependents," but wives are often models of independence that would do Beyonce proud. Try complaining to a military wife that your husband is away for a week-long work trip! Ha. Ha. Ha. Not funny.In addition to having to move frequently, military spouses are accustomed to finding new friends, homes, schools and jobs in new cities. They know how to function alone (even if they'd rather be with their partner) and form informal and structural support groups to help one another along. Many wives and partners, often unable to find permanent employment in their new temporary homes, instead generously volunteer with military support organizations, sharing what they've learned with others. Go girl.

4. The sacrifice is real

Military spouses sacrifice. Some spouses sacrifices everything.

"Military wives earn 25% less than their civilian counterparts," one government study found. Many put their own personal and professional ambitions on hold in service to the country in a role that is crucial and yet under-appreciated in American life. The sacrifice is very tangible in the daily lives of military wives.

But for some military spouses, whose partners have been profoundly injured or killed in service to the country, life will never be the same. Most recent numbers from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) shows just how vast the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been on American service members and their families. This Memorial Day, we're remembering each spouse, father, child behind the numbers. For more about the lives lost, read 'Faces of the Fallen,' at The Washington Post.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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What went viral this week: Pregnant Disney Princesses + an airline nightmare

Now, more than ever, we need to hear those good news stories.

Last week was a week.

We lost a legal and cultural icon with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deadly wildfires continue to blaze on the West Coast. Now, more than ever, we need to see creativity, kindness and compassion in our world—we need to hear those "good news" stories, but we also need to see the headlines that show us how and why the world needs to change .

And right now both kinds of stories are going viral.

Here are the viral stories you need to read right now:

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