By TMoM Team Member Dennette Bailey

I grew up in a family especially familiar with the armed forces as several of my family members were in one branch or the other of the United States Military. As a result, I have always had a tremendous respect for military personnel. I admired the structure and discipline of the military, and though I went to college, I really wanted to join the military. Unfortunately, I only got as far as going to see the recruiter and telling my parents of my pending enlistment before my mother shot that possibility down. Although I initially resented her for it, once I became a mom sending my own children off to the military, I understood her fears.

When first sending my children off to boot camp, I experienced excitement and worry all balled up in one. I was also proud and elated that my children recognized the value in the real-world education a military enlistment would offer them.

I was excited about my son joining the Navy, and my daughter who is also a full-time college student, joining the National Guard. I could not wait to find out about every aspect of boot camp (basic training), as well as every facet of their military occupation, because I naively believed my children would not only  be thrilled to share this information, but that it would be everything I imagined.

I had imagined the military being perfect, but the reality is that when people join the military, they must deal with varying personalities and bureaucracies just like civilian people. Somehow, I had imagined the structure and discipline eliminating that. I have learned that enlisting in the military is not for the faint of heart and that your life belongs to the military when you are a part of the armed forces.  As a parent, I have worried about my children, but mostly I have prayed for them.

The stress as a mom has been real, but I have never expressed that stress to my children.  The fact that I have missed them when they were on deployment or worried about their job duties has no comparison to the stress that I know they feel defending their country. I learned to never mention the news or what I thought was going on where they might be deployed because I did not want to add to their stress. I have a deep respect for military members. My daily prayer is for their safety and well-being.

If you will be sending a child of yours off to the military soon, know that your ability to offer positive support, express your pride in them and encourage them to see the value in the hard days will be beneficial to both parent and enlistee.

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