Still So Much To Do: A Military Mom Re-enters Her Family’s Life

Posted June 22, 2010 by

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been four months now since I first stepped off that plane from Iraq. So much has changed and yet, so much still remains.

January and February will go down as the worst months. Lots of crying and screaming and yelling as the kids tried to figure out where they fit and what they could get away with. Lots of tears on my part as guilt ate away at my soul, part for leaving and the other part for coming home and uprooting them once more. There was the panic over my oldest going from loving school to hating it. The daily battles to get her up in the morning and the ever-present food battles where my oldest proved just how stubborn she truly was.

But February ushered in March, where things got a little better. There were still bad days. Really bad ones but the distance between them grew a little longer. But we as we moved forward, each night I fell asleep hoping that tomorrow would be better, that the stress and guilt eating away at me would ease back and we could enjoy being a family for a little while, however long that might be.

I’ve focused on my oldest because, at 5, she is more like a little person. She is more articulate and significantly more vocal than my youngest on so many issues. But lately, my youngest is starting to show signs of stress. She’s always cried when we drop her off at daycare in the morning, but now, she cries as soon as she wakes up.

She’s crying for Grammy, something she has not done in the last four months. I admit to being stunned the day she stood in a crowded rest stop in New Jersey and told me she didn’t think I loved her. I didn’t know what to say or do. I was prepared for “I don’t love you” — not “You don’t love me.”

But now when she gets upset with us, she says she wants to go back to Grammy’s because ‘hers always nice to me’ and ‘her loves me’. I think my 3-year-old is confused. She doesn’t know where she fits. I worry more about her adjustment than my oldest’s, simply because she is so little and she was so young (just over six months old) when I first left her.

Her difficulty is also painful because she’s always just gone with the flow. She’s never been a fussy kid, always kind of rolling with whatever. The fact that months into our transition home and she’s suddenly having issues is extra tough to deal with because she’s been so resilient up to this point.

My little girl has been through a lot. She’s three -and-a-half and she’s been without me for half her life. The guilt I keep thinking I’ve dealt with is like an insurgent, sneaking up when I’m least prepared to deal with it, like the middle of a rest stop. I hope she’ll be okay in the long run, but the simple lack of information about long-term impacts means that my husband and I are simply going in blind and doing the best we can.

For now, I try to get my mom on the phone as much as I can so my kids can hear her voice. My youngest seems to need this contact more than my oldest. I’m trying to be as understanding and accommodating as I can, but really, how many times can you overlook a roll of toilet paper thrown in the toilet before someone needs to instill some discipline.

I think she’s doing fine, over all. But it’s those moments when she says how much she misses her Grammy that I feel my own heart breaking. She has no other words to express her confusion about where she fits in the world.

And I have no way to really pierce through the bubble of my own guilt.

Empowering Parents is happy to welcome Jessica Scott to the EP Blog. Jessica is an active-duty army officer, one half of a dual military couple and a full-time mom. She squeezes out time to write late at night or on her lunch breaks, such as they are. She blogged her way through Iraq in 2009 and you can read about her journey here.  She is the mother of Mia (3) and Victoria (5) and is blessed to have good children who’ve struggled through a rough time as military kids.


Jessica Scott is an active duty army officer, one half of a dual military couple and full-time mom. She squeezes out time to write late at night or on her lunch breaks, such as they are. She blogged her way through Iraq in 2009 and you can read about her journey at She is the mother of Mia(3) and Victoria(5) and is blessed to have good kids who've struggled through a rough time as military kids.

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  1. Julia Clark (Edit) Report

    I don’t know what brought me to tears more .. the post or the loving support of the readers. We’re all in this together and no matter what time in history or this very moment it is hard to be a parent even when the planets are in alignment. Adding separation to the dynamic .. sounds like the big leagues. #1) Mom get your rest, without it we are all short of patience. #2) Ask for help so you can reconnect with your precious daughters ie. reading together getting close and comfy at either bedtime and/or before nap time. It has always brought closeness and conversation between me and my daughter, always. Or let them pick it. with multiple children there is group time and try to get in your one on one when it is all about them. i promise it will not be like this forever, but i promise from the bottom of my heart the gentle loving time and the discipline time you put in while they are this age ie. standing in the corner or whatnot, you will reap the seeds you sow when they are older. My precious daughter just turned 9 and I deeply remember those days, I worked and struggled as a single mother since she was two. I had never been more emotionally drained in my life, stressed and trying to keep it together. I gave myself time outs, so I would be gentle to my daughter and raise a gentle child. It worked she is gentle. I agree,they are little people. Treat your girls how you want them to behave and they will come around, you are their greatest role model. ps Thank God for loving parents & Thank God for Grandparents. No one has helped me like my dad,D.A.VET. (try to replace the guilt with mental coaching “I can do this”) esp. focus on today,that’s all we really have. Love & Prayers.

  2. Autumn (Edit) Report

    First I want to completely second everything that the first commenter, Susan, had to say. Second, I want to let you know how deeply moved I was by your candor and willingness to share. I thank you for that and for your service, which is immeasurable.

    I had to work when my kids were little which was not my choice and I too had a wonderful mother or “grammy” that made a huge difference in our lives. Without her, I feel the loss to my kids would have been hard for me to reconsile. Now in retrospect, I realise what an awesome gift grandparents are to us working moms and our kids.

    I believe the important thing is to not parent from guilt because ulitimately our smart little ones figure out how to manipulate it. I heard a great guy on the radio saying that back in the 50s his mom did not ever let him feel sorry for himself for being a child of a divorce and still expected much from him, yet, in a very loving way.

    Just looking back on all I had to deal with in terms of major family disfunction, it seems there is no ideal childhood. However, I am closer to my mom today than many daughters and for my kids this has been the blessing of my life.

    Just remember your kid are so blessed to have such an amazing mom, if not the norm (and who is to say that having an execptional mom, not the norm will not ultimately accure to their benefit in their outlook on the world!) and if you don’t let them sense guilt they will just be proud and feel blessed at the end of the day. Many amazing people come out of a variety of circumstances and many a not so amazing person comes out of so called ideal situations.

    So, stick to your insticts as a parent and try not to let the guilt interfere with core parenting principals. Lots of love with discipline go a long way and even though you have been away your kids they crave to see you confidently re-establish your leadership in their lives.

  3. Susan Engel (Edit) Report

    Welcome to EP, Jessica! It’s nice to have another parent blogger on the team. 😉

    My heart aches for you … I feel guilt over the littlest things with my kids, yet I don’t have nearly the responsibilities that you do in your career! I just wanted to say how much I ADMIRE and RESPECT you for your service. The inner battles you must experience must be heart-wrenching, to say the least. I feel privileged that you feel comfortable enough to share those feelings with us.

    While I don’t have any words of wisdom to help ease the angst of separation or reunification with your girls, please know that I, and probably many, many other parents, appreciate your sacrifices and strength (even though it may not feel like that)! 🙂

    Sending you gobs of virtual {{{{ HUGS }}}},
    ~ Susan (fellow parent EP blogger and mom)



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