A blog from Army&You’s autumn edition by @CorporalMum
I’ve thought a lot about what it’s like being an army mum or dad, or any military parent. Does it mark us out as different? As much as I’m an army mum, I’m also a civilian mum. It’s different, but not different.
I’m not entirely sure where the soldier lives. I know exactly where the other two live. The soldier lives here with us, except when he’s not here. Sometimes he’s home every weekend and other times we won’t see him for months. We’re a literal halfway house and I guess it will stay this way until he has his own home or a quarter.
Depending on where he is, there are jobs we need to do for him. When he was overseas, we had to get his car MOT’d, take delivery of parcels, keep an eye on any post, vote by proxy, organise birthday cards.
He’ll call when he’s driving home and ask ‘what’s in the fridge?’. Not very well disguised code for ‘if you haven’t been to the supermarket to stock up, please go now’.
Arriving home, he’ll dump the big black bag and disappear to his mates’, let’s not pretend that we’re the main attraction. And there’s the washing – particularly if he’s come straight from ‘the field’ and half ‘the field’ ends up in the wash.
I consider where the soldier will be and when because I don’t want to be away at the wrong time. It’s hard because we want to see him go and return. This is us more than him. We’re sometimes dithering, putting stuff off, putting people off.
We wait. For news, for confirmation of dates, for phone calls, for them to come home. I was recently reassured by my Twitter military parent friends that I’m not alone in having a look at messaging services to see when they were last online. Non-military parents do it too, but the difference is they could probably just pick up the phone.
As an army parent you’re very proud of your soldier but that doesn’t take away from being proud of the others. I also recognise their concern for their soldier brother. Not so long ago when the soldier was on a course, the teenager said ‘I don’t want him to go to war’. He wasn’t going further than the field, but it was suddenly revealed that I’m not the only one with a worry seed. Talking of that worry seed, the one that planted itself into my brain as soon he joined up, I think this is where the difference becomes a chasm. This is what’s behind every feeling or action – pride and dread. Pride in the others doesn’t come with dread.
We have a choice to be parents, but I didn’t choose to be an army mum, it’s something I’ve had to adjust to, and like all other types of parenting, as he moves onto new experiences, so, to some extent, do we.