By Elaine Lowry Brye
I am a military mom and I have the grey hair, tear-stained pillows, and overwhelming pride that goes with it.
I know how to say goodbye with a smile and a heavy heart. I have mailed countless care packages, waited for phone calls or texts that don’t come, and sobbed with relief every time I hear they are back on U.S. soil.
I carry a heavy load in that back pack I put on when my first son was inducted into the Naval Academy, back in June of 2001. But he is not my only source of angst; all four of my children have served: one each in the Marines, Navy, Air Force and Army.
This leaves me holding down the homefront from all sides. Afghanistan, Libya, South China Sea-these are not just places on the map. They are some of the places my kids have encountered on their 11 deployments. And now number 12 is looming on the horizon.
What’s a mom to do after saying goodbye so many times? How does she hold herself together?
When the going gets tough she looks for wisdom from her battle buddies- those moms who have walked this difficult tightrope of fear and pride before. As my children’s service multiplied and the war kept on going, I realized we moms needed a service manual of sorts. We needed a guidebook to reassure us that we are not alone, that other moms were on this same journey with us.
“Be Safe, Love Mom: A Military Mom’s Stories of Courage, Comfort, and Surviving Life on the Homefront” is just that. It is support and encouragement through my lens as a mom, military wife and Army brat, and also dozens of other moms who wear the Blue Star (and Gold Star) badge with courage.
We moms are everywhere across this nation, from small towns in Maine to the California coast. We worry in upper Michigan and the southernmost reaches of Texas. We are not clustered around military installations. Many of us had no knowledge of anything military until our kid came home and said, “Mom I am joining the ____.”
In the land of the civilian/military divide, nothing builds a bridge faster than your child following the call to serve. Although we have learned to let go, nothing will ever stop the fierceness of our love or our desire to protect our children, any way we can. Wherever they go, our hearts are with them, in the air, land or sea.
“Love your country, do your duty, and suck it up.” That’s how I was raised, and what I do every day. I am a military mom.