A Military Mom: Don’t Take the Small Things for Granted

Here’s a second contribution from Momma B – also known as Elaine Brye. She has four children and writes a blog: 4 star military mom. All are serving in the military – one in each branch – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Elaine Brye's four children who are rarely home at the same time.


As a military mom it is not only the big things that get to you-it can be the every day things that most take for granted. For example getting all four of mine in one place at the same time is quite a challenge. As I sit on our hilltop farm and look out on a holiday I can see clusters of families gathering together-not my kids. I may be lucky to get a double or a triple but very seldom do I get a home run of everyone together.

It’s funny – when they were home all the time –  I think they got the basics of hand-to-hand combat completed in my living room. I would head to town and war would break out. The battles raged, casualties abounded including lampshades and then the phone would ring. ” Kids, I am on the way home, anything else we need?”

Immediately they sprang into action just like Thing1 and Thing 2 (out of Dr. Seuss) – in this case – also Thing 3 and Thing 4 – and all worked together to put things back in order.  A few days later I might ask, “What happened to this lamp shade? ” to be met by silence. Of course all of this has only recently been disclosed now that the statute of limitations has run out.

They work hard to see each other when they can, but that little thing of normal life together is a thing of the past.

When they were home, I knew their friends,their comings and goings, and supported them in their activities. I sat on so many bleachers  that I developed bleacher bottom – an increase in girth directly attributed to hours sitting in the car or the bleachers.

Now, the questions remain unanswered – what did you do at work today, where are you, when will you be home? OPSEC (Operational Security) reigns supreme and I find myself reading the news to figure out if my kid might be there. The not knowing – and being less a part of their lives because of it – those are little things I took for granted in years gone by.

Momma B's first grandchild.

I have to say the one thing that really has upped the ante when I think of the little things is my grandchildren. During my sons’ first deployments they were newlyweds. Their wives stepped it up and bravely held down the home front. They dealt with all the things that can go wrong.

As it says in Mrs. Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will happen when he is out of town-or on deployment.

But this time around – well – it is different. There is a little girl left behind. Six months old when Daddy left and she will be a year old when he comes home. The first tooth, the first steps – no amount of technology can replace missing those milestones. When we talk about personal sacrifice,  it can be the little things that mean so much.

A Mom’s Update on Her Young Marine Now in Afghanistan

April and Jared visiting the WUSF Studios just after he got out of boot camp, November 2010.

It was little more than a year ago that 17-year-old Jared Agle left his Florida home a week early for Marine Boot Camp at Paris Island. I work his with his mother April Agle. She’s in the WUSF Business Office.

I met Jared before he left and talked with him again when he returned after 13 weeks of basic training. He left again for months of infantry training before deploying to Afghanistan several weeks ago.

April and her husband have gotten a few phone calls from Afghanistan, but the calls are infrequent and often it drops out. She said it took 30 days for the first family “care package” of food and personal hygiene items to reach Jared’s Forward Operating Base. His comment to her, many serving with him don’t get any packages.

April's USO Teddy Bear.

Like any mother, April worries Jared, but she balances it with an inner pride as she watches her young son mature into a man – a U.S. Marine Lance Corporal. So it was an extra special surprise when she found a package on her doorstep the other day.

Inside the box was a short message for his mom and a USO Teddy Bear wearing a t-shirt. The front says, “My arms may be short, but …” and on the back “… they reach all the way around the world.”

The Teddy Bear was a sign to April that her son was still the thoughtful young man she raised –  who remembered to mail his younger sister a birthday card and thought to send his mom a Teddy Bear while on his way to a combat zone.

April is sharing her journey as a new military mom. Here are a few of her stories:

In Training to Become a New Marine Mom

Letting Go a Week Early

A Boot Camp Marine’s First Letter Home

Birthdays, Weddings, A Mom Misses Her New Marine

A Marine Mom: Paris Island Graduation Day

Blue Star Mom Recalls Son’s Call Before Deploying

Blue Star Mom Tracie Ciambotti over the last two days has shared her personal thoughts and anxiety about her son’s upcoming third deployment. The first two were in Iraq, this time he’s headed to Afghanistan.

It seems appropriate to introduce you to a former Blue Star Mom, Sue Diaz. She’s a journalist who contacted me offering to share a video she produced. The You Tube video is made from excerpts of her book, “Minefields of the Heart.” The book’s subtitle: a mother’s stories of a son at war.

My thanks to Sue who not only writes – she teaches writing workshops for veterans at the San Diego Vet Center. Diaz also started a blog for their posts: The Warriors Wall.

Ad Campaign Aims at Helping Blue Star Families

Multiple deployments and Permanent Change of Station (PCS) are two of many stresses unique to military families. There’s a Public Service Ad Campaign aimed at letting the Blue Star Families know they are not alone.

For help, military members and family members can call 800-273-8255.

As an aside, two contributors to Off the Base who are Blue Star Mothers are part of a Blue Star Mothers event Saturday hosted by the White House. Congratulations to Dorie Griggs and Tracie Ciambotti both excellent examples of supportive and proactive military moms.

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