Military Life Is Not Like Being a Single Mom

Military Life Is Not Like Being a Single Mom
Children and their mothers play on a new playground. (U.S. Air Force/Joshua Eikren)

Before I married a military man, I did the research. I figured that since I was already a single mom for over 10 years, it wouldn’t be that much of a change in my lifestyle.

As a single mom, I was used to budgeting on my own, used to going places with the kids by myself, used to planning family trips and traveling all on my own. I was that independent, self-sufficient, career mom raising my children by myself and loving my life. Yes, indeed, I had it all, except (excuse the cliché) someone special to share it all with!

Enter the Man of my Dreams. Super smart, super funny, super single dad and super handsome to top it all off! The fact that he was in the Navy was not an issue. I fell completely, head over heels, utterly, totally, crazy in love with this beautiful human being.

The Man of my Dreams proposed and of course, I accepted. I couldn’t imagine life without him. Before we got hitched, we had the talk. He wanted me to know exactly what I was signing up for with this marriage. He wanted to be sure that I knew he would be gone, a lot. That he would miss important days and events, often. That he would try to never go a day without talking to me but there were circumstances that would come up where he wouldn’t be reachable, and these would happen frequently

I listened, nodded and assured my future husband that it was no big deal. We had never lived together prior to being married. We had been a long-distance couple for a while prior to the marriage. So what’s the big difference?

Oh, how naïve I was. Super mom was about to learn the military wife survival techniques the hard way.

The day after our wedding, the ink hadn’t even dried on our marriage certificate before I was thrown full throttle into this crazy, wonderful world of military life. I had my first move to his new duty station 3,000 miles across the country. We had our new blended family of four children in tow. We only had a few blissful days of married life before he would leave me, alone, in a new place, with no family and friends because he had to deploy.

I became this creature who slept with the laptop in her lap and her phone by her side, waiting for that blissful ding of a new email from my husband or that ever-elusive phone call -- anything to connect me to my other half. I loved seeing his handsome face on Skype and the way the kids would light up when Dad sent a letter was one of the most moving things I had ever seen.

Why didn’t you tell me how much I would love this new life?

Shannon Jackson is the wife of a US Navy Chief Petty Officer living in San Diego, California. Shannon currently works full time for Homes Media and operates an online jewelry boutique. In her spare time -- which isn’t much between football practices, art classes and deployments -- she loves to read and write about her experiences in hopes of connecting with and inspiring others.

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