I looked up some advice I put together for an incredible woman who asked me my thoughts on balancing motherhood and the Air Force as she contemplated starting her own family. Here is the first part of what I sent her...please chime in with your comments on things you would add.
- Know that you will always be tired and that 2 large travel mugs of coffee are the only way to remain awake for the rest of the duty day (for me…you might be a super hero).
- Know that you will learn to balance the family calendar and the stock of supplies in the fridge better than any loggie the AF has produced (and have all local take out places on speed dial).
- Know that there is no shame in dressing your self and your children straight out of the load of clothes in the dryer (and there are benefits to not having to choose what to wear to work).
- Know that managing your family through all of its challenges will teach you far more about how to be an outstanding officer than any amount of PME reading. Brief the wing commander after staying awake with a strep throat victim? Travel across country with a daughter with the worst case of poison ivy ever seen? Travel solo with two kids on a transatlantic flight, meeting your Mom in Virginia so you can go to a conference while your spouse is deployed? Billy Mitchell would have fallen like a house of cards.
- Know that you will have to spend time away from your spouse (so what’s new?) and your kids and really, on balance, it’s good for everyone—it makes time together that much sweeter and I promise they won’t become future derelicts (not even your spouse).
- Know that good enough will have to be good enough and perfection is your enemy. My daughter had the terrible twos in spades, I was very, very pregnant with my son and my husband was deployed, and all I could think was, “Good Lord, what have I gotten myself in to.” Did I mention it was one of the hottest Augusts in history? We had sandwiches for dinner at the pool like every night for 3 weeks.
- Know that having your child say, “You look nice Mommy” when you are squeezed into your service dress--trying to remove the random dog hairs and making sure the flipping badges are lined up--is one of the sweetest compliments you can ever hear.