The Inner Reflections Of A Working Mom And Military Spouse

4-Minute ReadPUBLISHED: May 03, 2022

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I started with Rocket Companies® in 2013 as a Mousetrapper working to improve our processes, moved into Servicing and then Capital Markets, and now lead our People Systems and Platforms team.

This year I was honored to be asked to be the executive sponsor for our Veteran Team Member Resource Network (TMRN), since my husband is in the National Guard. This TMRN helps advocate for our veterans and allies.

Our Military Journey

I didn’t come from an active military family. My grandpas had served in WWII, but it wasn’t paramount to our day to day lives, and quite honestly, flew under the radar as just a past event since neither one talked much about it. In hindsight, I wish I had heard more of their stories. At the ripe old age of 16, when I started dating my now-husband, I had no idea how large of an impact the military would have on my life.

My husband and I have known each other since middle school but started dating our junior year of high school. Right before we became “official” he enlisted in the Michigan Army National Guard, under a program where he started as a 17-year-old and shipped off to his first round of boot camp the summer between our junior and senior year.

By that time, I was hooked on this guy and started on a journey I had no preparation for. He has now served for 19 years, and he hits his 20-year milestone this December. In that time he has grown, his career has grown and we’ve grown, all through what has become an ever-present component of our day-to-day lives.

The National Guard time commitment was sold to me as “one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer,” but he spends several days each month working on his “guard stuff,” all while balancing a full-time job and a family.

He’s also gone, a lot. While our daughters affectionally refer to his service as he’s gone being “soldier dad,” it’s hard for all of us to balance the time and the space that the service requires.

Called To Serve

He's been called to serve on long-term deployments on two occasions. Our first experience came in 2010 when he deployed in support of Operation New Dawn and served for a year in Kuwait. We didn’t have kids at the time and I’m thankful for that as it was a tough time.

The distance and time that elapses over the course of a year and how people change when you’re separately experiencing life together, and in two-minute choppy video chats, makes it hard to stay connected and aligned. When he returned, it was the best and hardest transition of my life.

We were living two different lifestyles. He was used to things one way and I was used to things another way. Through a lot of patience, tears, communication and trust, we reacclimated to life as a couple in one place and grew a ton in our relationship.

I’m thankful for the experience but live with constant fear of having to do it again. I think that’s the real side of being a military spouse, you live with this unspoken acknowledgement that your life could be flipped upside down at a moment’s notice and you have no control over it.

We did that again in 2020 when he was called to give aid due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world was spinning with a lot of uncertainty around COVID, and we got a call on a Thursday that he needed to report Saturday morning for 30 days of COVID test support.

30 days turned into 60, which turned into 90, and we lived life on the edge for a minute. With the exposures and military duties, we didn’t see him for those first 60 days. This was hard on our kiddos (and me), while we were doing virtual school and I was working from home full-time.

To have your kids ask you questions like, “Why does Dad like the Army more than us?” or, “When is daddy coming home?” and not have answers, breaks your heart. They’re tough, but four- and seven-year-olds just don’t understand “duty” the way an adult does and how his heart breaks just as much as ours do when he leaves.

Military life does make you appreciate your family time. I hold it incredibly sacred and fiercely protect my time with us all together because I am acutely aware of the constant possibility of not having it.

I know there are so many people that juggle a lot below the surface. I would add military spouses to that list. I am so fortunate to work for a place like Rocket Companies that allows me the flexibility to support my husband and my family as needed.

When he’s on guard duty, I lose my kid-picker-upper, which means my schedule must shift to add that responsibility. Never once have I been met with anything other than support in meeting my home obligations that shifted because of his service.

During his COVID duties, we straight up moved in with my parents for seven weeks (they are angels) so we had help with all life required of us. I appreciate that level of flexibility in my job to be able to do what’s needed at home, in the way I need to do it for my family.

A Sense Of Community

The challenges that face you as a military spouse seem ridiculously daunting at times (mine were, with lots of tears) but we’re a resilient group, and we make it through to the other side. We’re lucky to have networks at work like our Veteran TMRN, with a channel specifically for military spouses. It gives us a place where we can connect with folks over shared experiences and lean on them for support.

 

I am so proud of what my husband does. A few silent tears slip out every time I hear the National Anthem or watch “coming home” videos on YouTube. But it demands a lot of our entire family, and that’s hard. It’s also rewarding. I do look forward to retirement day, and getting our weekends back, but for now, I’m happy to support his passions and the amazing example of selfless service he sets for our daughters every day.

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