Friday, October 08, 2010

Ten Years Later ... An Army Mom's Reflections

Today's guest blogger is Karen Estrada, MS,  with the"Military Health Matters!" blog. 

Not only does Karen focus on military health, working with Milhealth's Directory of Military Health Information, Resources, and Research, but she's also a military mom.  She has one son in the Army and has experienced first-hand the life of supporting a loved one in the armed services.

Read here as she describes what she's learned in the past ten years since her son first entered the service.

“Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door, who is it for? All the lonely people, where do they all come from, all the lonely people, where do they all belong?”

Today is the 10th anniversary of OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom). Ten years? Where did the time go? Ten years ago my son, freshly 18 was finally hearing his last name barked out during formation by his DI). Think back, those of you who are military moms, parents, spouses… could you have imagined ‘now’ ten years ago?

So what have you learned?

I learned how to color my own hair, that yelling at the TV can be therapeutic, that I can cry at any McDonalds in Fayetteville, NC (Ft. Bragg), I’ve learned that I can’t fix everything, I’ve learned sometimes all I can do is hold my daughter-in-law’s hand quietly while she weeps, I learned what a capable, strong woman she is.

I've learned how to pack a ‘mean’ care package, I’ve learned that my cell phone “is” part of my body, I learned how to pronounce the names of places I'd never heard of before, I’ve learned how to exist on less than 3 hours sleep at times, I’ve learned to pray a lot more… and I’ve learned God doesn’t ‘really’ make deals with us (even if we think so). I’ve learned how to make the kind of friends you feel you’ve known your entire life.

I’ve learned to become more outspoken, and I’ve learned when I need to keep my mouth closed. I’ve learned 101 witty responses to well-meaning but clueless questions, I’ve learned to accept hugs from total strangers, I’ve learned not to be upset over insignificant things, I’ve learned reverence. I learned how to be a compassionate leader.

I’ve learned about ‘deep in the gut’ sorrow, I’ve learned how to talk with someone who’s lost their child, about tragedy and death, I learned about ‘that deep sigh of relief', I’ve learned its okay to cry on my son’s shoulder before he leaves, that I don’t have to ‘suck it up’….

After four deployments, I’ve learned how to pace myself, the worry and anxiety. Okay, well, I’m still learning that one.

What have you learned? What are you still learning?

~ Karen Estrada, MS “Milhealth” Proud Army Mom!

SFC Juan Hernandez, Mortars. 2-505 PIR, 3rd BCT 82nd Airborne. Ft. Bragg, NC
Lyrics, Eleanor Rigby (Lennon/McCartney) 1966.

For more information just for Army parents, visit Army Well-Being: Army Parents.


Army Well-Being said...

We LOVE this blog post by guest blogger Karen Estrada. Thank you for sharing your experience and reminding us that the lessons we learn in life are what make us who we are.

JLem. said...

Thanks for sharing this. I lived in Fayetteville, NC for a few years too. Your blog was great to read.

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