The mother of four serving military officers pays tribute to the parents of children in active service, especially mothers, America's “unsung heroes.”
Brye, an advocate for military families who administers the Naval Academy's Parents Listserv and Facebook page, achieved national prominence when she was chosen to introduce Michelle Obama at the 2012 Democratic Convention. The author explains that despite her own Republican convictions, she appreciates the activities of both the first lady and Jill Biden on behalf of military families. “There is the bravery required to go out and fight the battles,” writes Brye, “and there is the bravery to keep the home fires burning.” Coming from a multigenerational military family—her parents served during World War II, her husband is a retired officer, and she has four children on active duty—she knows the terrain. Not only do parents need to endure the worry when their sons and daughters are on dangerous deployments and out of touch, mothers also face the trauma of severe disconnection, which begins when their children go through the toughening-up process of boot camp. The author writes of her own ordeal under such circumstances as akin to “swimming under water without an oxygen tank,” and she describes overcoming fighting the urge to protect a child in the military as learning to “embrace the suck.” At the same time, Brye advises mothers to cut themselves some slack, citing her own occasional meltdowns as something to be expected under stress. The author also touches on the special difficulties for women in the military, as they must demonstrate physical toughness, but not get too chummy with their male counterparts, in order to gain respect.
A compassionate, insightful guide for military parents and the rest of us who are in their debt.