I’ve never had anyone come ask me about their decision to join the military. There’s so much to say, I really had to think about what the most valuable things to share with you would be. You know I didn’t get in until very late in life and your experience would be so different than mine. I mean, I got in LATE — it was literally the morning of my 40th birthday and I was standing in line at 4:00 am to take the final physical training test to graduate basic training (you probably know it as boot camp).
We both have children though, and yours are about the same age as mine when I joined. With that in mind I have a question for you to ask yourself before we go on, because when you have children and you decide to join the military, it’s vastly different than someone who has no ties.
Are you ready to wake up in a bunk in the middle of the night, panic stricken because you can’t get to your kids?
That’s what happened to me my first night in basic combat training. I woke up unable to breath.
“God,” I thought, “what if my babies need me? What if they have a bad dream? What if they’re sick?”
I didn’t realize what I’d done until I was in a top bunk, in a room filled with at least 30 other women, that I couldn’t even call my children to comfort them if I wanted. (You don’t get to keep your phone in basic combat training.)
Are you willing to not be there for your kids when they need you? Can you let that go? Are you willing to let go of the control over your child’s life to have a profound influence in their upbringing? Are you willing to give that to someone else? Is there someone in your life you trust to do that?
If I didn’t have strong faith in God to take care of my girls in my absence I would not have been able to withstand the distance from them. I know you’re a believer, and that helps greatly, but it won’t change the consequences you will have to endure when you decide to give employment to the United States priority over raising your children.
I can assure you, that while you think you might be away from your kids only a short time, (if that’s true), the times you are away may come at the most inappropriate times such as birthdays, school plays, first days of school and more (all of which I’ve had the very sad misfortune of missing in my daughter’s lives).
I can never get those times back, and worse, they’ve formed the relationship I have with my girls in ways that I couldn’t have predicted, ways that I cannot go back and change.
I guess the question is, are you ready to sign your motherhood over to the United States and give your children to whomever your childcare plan says is in charge if you have to leave?
If your answer is yes, or even a maybe, then let’s go ahead and meet up Friday. I’d love to share the amazing experiences I’ve had with you and benefits of joining the United States Military, (because there are lots of good ones).
Please comment below if you're a Mom in the military. I'd love to hear your comments and how you've gotten through times you've had to be away from your children. What are some creative ways you've kept in contact with them?
Whether you’re long distance lovers or home every night together (which can feel long distance at times right?), digital touch can be a powerful way to affect the people you love.
I researched the science of digital love and there’s a rabbit hole of studies on today’s social media behaviors on teens, adults, cheaters and lovers. There’s different analysis and consensus on whether it’s right or wrong and healthy or unhealthy.
There’s a huge push in many of the articles about the importance of face-to-face communication in today’s digital world, but I contend that there is also a lot of benefits that come from the ability to communicate digitally. As a member of the military, who’s spent time away from her family, I have experienced the benefits of digital communications. There are times I feel more connected in my digital communications than in person.
Healthy or unhealthy, wrong or right, Digital communication is not going away anytime soon.
Many times, when you’re communicating digitally with someone via text, pictures, youtube videos, your brain is webbing together a scenario or story with that person. We look to Neuroscience to explains how fiction, reading and writing affects our brain.
According to The New York Times Sunday Review in an article called, Your Brain on Fiction, author Annie Murphy Paul writes, “Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.”
Novels (stories) go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.
Whether we are sending the story or receiving the story (digital message), it can be a powerful way to connect with someone, even if they’re not in the same room with you.
So, in honor of our long-distance lovers and couples who the economy has forced to live apart . . . actually, ALL relationships, I thought it would be beneficial to share some creative digital communication ideas to touch your friends, family or lovers with when you're apart.
You're invited to share your digital #touch stories in the comments below.
Just today I had a friend share a photo essay of his morning. He sent photos and comments of completely normal things happening in his day but I felt closer to him with each message.
Nothing special here- in fact, these are pics of mundane daily things. It didn’t take any planning, but still had the power for me to feel connected to him.
We’ll call this, a photo essay of two lovers…(just giving ideas here!)
It doesn't matter how you decide to communicate digitally, as long as you are trying to stay connected. It's too easy, with the tools we have today, not to reach out to the people we love. We all need connection. It can be as small as sending a link to a song on YouTube that brings memories back for you both to a surprising text message they’re not expecting.
“Okay, Okay,” I say, throwing my hands up and walking out of my daughter’s bedroom, “I still love you.” I tell her before shutting the door behind me.
The sweet baby girl I held in my hands at birth and snuggled in bed as I nursed, who, as a toddler giggled all the time and thought that the leaves in trees were tree stars, was now a teenager plunging under her covers hiding, refusing a good morning hug from her Mom.
I am doing my best not to take it personally because the research says this is common with teens. Lots of kids stop wanting hugs from their parents from about fifteen years old until nearly 22 years of age.
But I feel like a fraud because at the same time this is happening, my new brand is launching and it’s aimed at encouraging connection and human touch. How can I bring a message like that when my own daughter doesn’t even want me to touch her?
Of course, kids need to break off from that baby bonding moment that touch provided in the beginning stages of life so they can gain their independence as young adults. But it is as if a child knows instinctively they must cut off the hugs for a time, in order to become their own independent person.
That says a lot about the power of touch.
It has been written that touch is the first sense we acquire, and that touch is literally our first language as babies. It’s even been called the secret weapon for successful relationships.
According to studies, we are capable of determining eight distinct emotions from touch alone – anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness and sadness. Accuracy rates have been recorded as high as 78 percent. So when a child says, (or when anyone says,) don’t touch me, there may be a lot more behind their words than they are even aware of.
For someone so close to me like my daughter, I am trying to respect those times when my touch isn’t welcome to her.
I’m reminded of the words of the late Wayne Dyer about the importance of letting go and releasing the need to control people we love, and the words of Catherine Ponder, that we can hold people captive by our thoughts if we are not careful.
As I finish typing this piece I am watching my hands graze the keyboard and I now understand the power they represent to hold back or release those I love to go forward in their own endeavors. And, my thoughts drift to the first time my baby girl ever discovered her own hands...what a wonderful moment that was.