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An Open Letter to Our Service Members

Love you note

Dear Must-Do Parents,

As Must-Have Parents, we don’t talk about our partners, the Must-Do Parents, enough in this column.

We definitely don’t give you the credit you deserve. That ends today.

Thank you.

Thank you for working hard. And thank you for being so good at what you do that -- even in this bad economy -- that it has made sense for our family to rely primarily on your income.

Thank you for being willing to miss out on so much at home. And thank you for letting us Must-Haves experience parenting to the fullest.

We mean that sincerely; there’s no sarcasm here. We know that you wish you were home more. We know that you hate missing all those moments.

We know that most days you wish you didn’t have to be away so much. You took one for the team. We noticed. Thank you.

Thank you for making the most of the time when you are at home. We know that it’s jarring to come in from a day, week, month or even a year away from the family and have the sights, sounds and smells of life with kids hit you all at once.

You made the effort anyway. We saw that you took a deep breath, held your arms out even wider, and stepped right into the chaos.

Well done, by the way, and thanks for that.

(Also, thanks for not commenting on the smells in the Must-Have car. We promise that we really do vacuum it out regularly.)

Thank you for trying to catch up on what you missed. Thanks for sitting down with us and asking for updates.

Thanks for engaging with the kids and listening to every last detail of Barbie’s horseback adventure and what’s going on in Minecraft world.

Thanks for pushing that Thomas Train around that (amazing, btw!) track you helped to build.

Thanks for asking concerned questions about the latest drama at school. Thanks for kicking that soccer ball. Thanks for finding that leotard. Thanks for playing fetch with the dog, fixing that broken chair and unloading the dishwasher.

Thanks for all of that. It must be overwhelming, and it would certainly be easier for you to just sit these things out. But you didn’t. Thanks.

Thank you for giving us a break.  Than you for acknowledging that, just like your workweek has to end sometime, we Must-Haves need breaks from parenting.

Thanks for getting up and making breakfast when we know you would have preferred to sleep late. Thanks for finding the cleats and filling the water bottles when you probably would have rather been on the golf course, reading the paper, or doing whatever it is you dream of doing all week when you’re at work.

Thank you for that night out we got with our friends, and thank you for that date night, too. We know you probably didn’t want to get dressed up, but you recognized that we needed to wear that dress at least once before the season changed.

But mostly, just ... Thanks. Thanks for being a true partner. Our Must-Have/Must-Do situation might seem less than ideal to others, but we’ve been able to make it work because we’re both all in. Guess what? Even if we might sometimes seem ungrateful and self-absorbed, we really do notice all that you do --  and we love you for it. 

Yours always,
The Must-Have Parent

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Rebekah Sanderlin Military Parenting

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Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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