A blog from Army&You’s spring 2023 edition by Anne Grant

At the start of 2022 my husband and I made the hard decision to opt into a deployment. This meant he had pre-deployment training for a few weeks and would then be away for six months while I stayed at home with our two sons.

He faced the reality of missing our sons growing up, birthdays and family occasions. I faced solo parenting with my closest family two hours away.

My blessings were our military neighbours and fortunately I didn’t have to juggle a job at the same time. As our boys are three and one, they are firmly in the toddler category, going on teenager!

There were some tricky times, for example when my younger son was ill in the night.

The ambulance was on the way but the eldest was sleeping. I didn’t know whether to a) wake the older child, who would be grumpy and cry or b) ask neighbours to babysit while I took the youngest to hospital, hoping the eldest stayed asleep and didn’t worry why I’d abandoned him!

It was an emotional rollercoaster of worry and responsibility. Thankfully my very kind neighbours tag teamed babysitting duties. I know I’m not the only one, but why do things like this always happen when your partner is away?

I don’t know who cried more for those six months, me or the kids. For those who know what parenting is like and to those who do it solo, I raise a glass to you.

What have I learnt? At times I felt broken but I have got back up. It’s easy to undervalue yourself – being a mum is hard work but military life can throw curve balls you didn’t sign up for. I am stronger than I know, I am braver and I will stand up for what I believe in.

If I want to make things happen, I need to make time for them, not wait for time to become available. I am more disciplined and conscientious. I trust myself to make the right decisions for myself and family, even if that’s hard.

Finally, I appreciate and respect myself more. My expectation that I must get everything right is unrealistic and damaging. My best is good enough.

I’m grateful for the opportunity we have been given. Army life is challenging at times and it’s only our camaraderie that helps us get through. So a big thank you to those neighbours, members of the community and welfare who supported us all.