How being a military dependent helped me prepare for my future

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“You’re going to be the man of the house now,” are the words one may hear a military father tell his son before deployment. However, it’s different when the mom is the one leaving her daughter because of a deployment. She has to leave her little girl and miss important life moments, while her daughter lives without her mother’s gentle touch.

Having my mom deployed taught me to be more mature. I had to learn to do things without her. Homework, school events, cooking, cleaning, shopping was all done with my dad or by myself. I had to take on as much of my mom’s role as I could. When I got upset or stressed I would have to go to my dad, who couldn’t always comfort me like my mom. Taking on her role allowed me to become self-sufficient and independent.

I learned very quickly how to multi-task and be more organized. I got myself up for school and made sure I was ready on time so dad could drive me there. I learned to manage my time better, which resulted in getting my homework done before the due dates and my studying done well in advance of the tests. Without mom there to help, I learned to study on my own by making flashcards. I implemented mom’s idea of making up songs to help me remember important facts. I also became better at communicating. I’m shy to begin with, but having to communicate with teachers and other adults, without my mom, made me open up a little bit more and become better at talking and asking questions when needed.

Learning self-sufficiency, independence, multi-tasking, organization, communication and maturity has, without a doubt, prepared me for college. These traits will not only help me succeed in college, but also in whatever future I choose in the job market and in life itself.

I’ve seen my mom use these traits to handle stressful situations. In watching her, I have learned to remain calm, breathe and handle as much as I can, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

My mom is a huge role model in my life because after serving for 28 years, she still loves her job and does it like a pro. Having had a military mom my entire life, I have learned that giving up or quitting is not an option, even when the going gets tough. It is the only life I know. It is my normal. I hope, someday, to have a job that I am good at and that I love, just like her and I know college will help get me there.

“Service before self” is something she has instilled in me, meaning I should always try to help others with their needs before I focus on my own. It is a value or life trait that has and will continue to help me make friends, accomplish goals and help others. It has prepared me to succeed.

The future

With high school graduation behind me, and having been accepted at a California State University, my life is about to change again. Now, I am the one leaving home. It seems ironic that my growing up lead to my own deployment of sorts.

Like my mother before me, I will be leaving my family and traveling alone to a place unknown to me, yet a place where many have gone before me. I will have many new adventures and create lasting memories. I will laugh and I will cry. I will be glad to be on my own yet, at times, long for those feelings of comfort and safety that I have at home. This time, mom will be the one at home wondering how I am doing and hoping for a card, letter or phone call.

Stress is inevitable and I thought I had to have it all figured out by now, what I want to be when I grow up. But, mom said, I am in the majority, that most high school graduates don’t know yet. About to begin my college orientation, I’m not sure what career path I will choose, but I know that whatever I decide to do, my mom and dad will support me all the way, and I will ‘redeploy’ as a successful, independent woman, just like mom.