DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Their kids tell other kids at school, “My momma wears combat boots.” This isn’t your typical Air Force family.
Tech. Sgt. Blanca Cantu, 7th Operations Support Squadron, her husband Chris and their four children work together to get through the daily obstacles of having an unconventional military family.
Balancing family and work is no easy task. She is a military member and he has spent the past several years as a stay-at-home dad.
“I just do it. It’s second nature now,” Sergeant Cantu said. “I take a lot of pride in what I do, but more in my family. I have to take care of them and myself before I can do my job.”
For most husbands it would be difficult to play a support role. However, Chris swallowed his pride and took on the position that would provide the best situation for his family, the stay-at-home dad.
Chris, the self-proclaimed “STAHD” said, “It was hard at first because as a man you want to be the bread winner. So I put my pride aside and do everything I can to support her.”
Recently, Sergeant Cantu returned from her second deployment in December 2011 from Iraq. While she was overseas, she missed important life mile-stones, including every child’s birthday that year. It was difficult for her not to be there to give her children a simple hug or see their smiles while they opened gifts.
“On one of their birthdays, I didn’t even want to get up to go eat. But I had friends who came and got me and made me get up to do something,” she said. “I also like to draw. It’s a hobby of mine and even though I’m not very good, it lets me send them things I made with my love.”
The nearly 10-hour difference made communication between the family difficult. She would stay up some nights, several hours after her shift, to be able to have a few minutes on video chat. Most days, she wouldn’t be able to talk to them at all.
“If we didn’t have God in our family, we probably wouldn’t have made it,” Mr. Cantu said. “Whenever they would wake up asking for their mom, I would say let’s pray to God.”
Many resources are offered here for spouses of deployed Airmen. Aside from sergeant Cantu asking members of her shop to help watch over her family, the family took advantage of several tools available to get through the six months their spouse and mother was gone.
“The deployment pass is awesome. It offered a lot of things that are more for guys, which I could do with the kids.” Chris said. “I took advantage of the free daycare the base offers. It gave me a little time to myself and a chance to hang out with some of my guy friends from her unit.”
Although it’s difficult having a mother who serves her country, pride runs deep in the Cantu household for their Airman.
“We are so proud of her,” he said. “Everywhere we go we say we are a military family. People treat us with a lot of respect because of her.”
Even though many sacrifices have been made by Sergeant Cantu and the rest of her family, to them the Air Force is just another extension of their family.
“I don’t think there is any better fit for us than the military,” she said. “It provides so much for our family that it just seems meant to be.”