Monday, September 27, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Basic Training Prepared Me for Motherhood

One the things I have been in my life is a soldier.  Not in some figurative fighting-for-my-children's-rights sense.  I mean I was a soldier in the United States Army.

Hooah.

I enlisted during Desert Storm, which for you young 'uns out there, was this thing that happened many moons ago that made Desert Camo both a military necessity and a bizarre civilian fashion statement.   I enlisted because I was (am) insanely patriotic and also because I didn't know what I wanted to major in; throwing myself into the fracas seemed like an excellent idea.  And surprisingly enough, it was.  I consider myself fortunate that I was never sent to Iraq; I was stationed in South Carolina and then in California.

Not only am I proud of having served in the military, the whole experience made me a stronger, better person.   And, it helped prepare me for the toughest job I've ever had: Mom.

Although I was much more organized when I was in the military, and although I was allowed to swear way more than I can now, there are certain distinct similarities.

Which leads me to this:

The Top Ten Reasons U.S. Army Basic Training Prepared Me for Motherhood

10. We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do an entire day.  Remember that clever slogan?  I remember in Basic Training, we would have had eaten, run, and done weapons training, and it was still o-dark-thirty.  By the time 9 a.m. rolled around, it felt like a whole day had gone past.  Just like being a mom!

9. There is strong ... and then there is Army Mommy Strong.  In Basic Training, I spent quite a bit of time in the position of "leaning rest."  While that sounds restful, really it's the starting point for a push-up.  And you start in the up position, people, not down on the floor.  If your drill sergeant is particularly pissy, you might spend a lot of time frozen in front leaning rest, not actually doing any push-ups, just staying there like that until someone reaches muscle fatigue, starts twitching, and eventually drops.  Which will make your drill sergeant even more pissed and then everyone has to start over.  This kind of thing is excellent preparation for being a mom.  You will reach muscle fatigue, start twitching, and eventually drop many times as a mom.  But this will really piss your baby off and you will have to get. back. up.

8. Army of One.  I don't know what marketing genius came up with that slogan, but it's insane.  An Army of One is just a nutjob with a rifle.  The Army, on the other hand, is a whole bunch of people who have to count on one another.  It's something you cannot possibly do alone.  Being a mom works the same way; even if you're a single mom, you cannot do this all by yourself.  You need support from family, friends, and colleagues.  Otherwise, you lose your mind.

7. Hurry Up and Wait.  I learned the expression "Hurry Up and Wait" in the Army.  This is when you rush-rush-rush to get somewhere, for example, the medical center.  Then you wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And eventually you get some vaccines that you wish you didn't need.  If you substitute "medical center" for "pediatrician's office," you'll see how this applies to mommyness.

6. Going AWOL is not okay.  Also, excuses are the "wrong answer."  One of the worst things you can do as a soldier or a mom, is go Absent Without Leave.  It just isn't acceptable.  Yes, you need a break, but you'll have to schedule that and make sure that someone trained and capable is there to cover for you.  And if you foul something up, suck it up and fix it.  In the Army, if you screw up and try to weasel out of punishment with an excuse, a sergeant or officer is likely to look you levelly in the eye and flatly state, "wrong answer, High Speed."  ("High Speed, Low Drag" usually describes a soldier who is ass-kickingly good.  Unless you suck.  In that case, it's sarcasm.  This is kind of like how I describe Dina Lohan as "Mother of the Year.")

5. It isn't pretty. It is possible to be attractive in the Army, but it's almost impossible to be pretty in Basic Training.  Pretty is not one's natural state when you're wearing Army-issued eyewear called BCG's, or Birth Control Glasses.  Basically, they make you so seriously unattractive that no one would want to have sex with you.  I don't mean that as a mom you're not beautiful.  You are.  You're stunning, you're gorgeous.  Is that new lipstick you're wearing?  But going through a humiliating period of being really fugly does kind of help you learn to set priorities.  It also helps you suck it up when you're three months postpartum and still wearing your maternity jeans.

4. Army chow.  In the Army, they really serve Spam.  Not the annoying emails, the food.  Remember when you read the word Spam, and you thought about canned ham and Monty Python instead of ads for Viagra?  The Army also served "chipped beef on toast," commonly known as SOS (sh*t on a shingle).  I was a vegetarian before I went into the Army, but at that time vegetarianism would have been pretty much impossible to maintain in the Army.  It might be different now.  Maybe now they're serving Boca Burgers instead of Spam.  But I kind of doubt it.  In any case, it's good preparation for your new mommy cuisine of leftover chicken nuggets and tater tots.  However, I would still much rather eat Spam that the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese.

3. SNAFU.  Snafu is originally a military term.  It stands for Situation Normal: All F**ked Up.  I don't think I need to explain the connection to mommyhood.

2. Field Training Exercise (FTX).  Basic Training FTX involves living outside in the dirt for days on end.  You have to dig your own foxhole and stay in it for a long time.  If your Basic Training is done in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, the means you will be sitting in a  hole of non-draining red clay.  If it rains, you will have your own personal Shrek bathtub.  And, yes, you will sit there in your slimy foxhole with the water rising because do you think there are umbrellas on the battlefield, Private?  Also, you have to do this with greasepaint on your face which ensures your skin will look like a "before" picture in a Proactiv commercial.  Ultimately, FTX prepares you to go days without a shower, or sleep, while eating high-calorie meals at odd hours.  Sound familiar?

1. It's the toughest job you'll ever love.  These are not jobs you do for the money.  You don't even do it for the glory, because for every person who thanks you for serving / parenting, there's another person protesting / whining.  U.S. Army Soldier and Mom are both jobs you do because they're important and you believe in what you're doing.

Hooah, moms.

41 comments:

  1. I love this post!
    I am a brand new follower, hope you'll take the time to come by and follow back!
    http://questfortheperfectclothdiaper.blogspot.com/

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  2. thanks once again for a giggle in my day, and a reminder that while I may feel like I'm losing my mind here at homw surrounded by my Swarm of (6)Children, it's an important job!
    Now for some sleep before I have to feed the youngest and the craziness starts all over again!
    p.s I think you're Awesome! :OD

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  3. As an Air Force veteran, I can appreciate (and remember!) all of those things you mentioned. Thanks for my early morning laugh!!

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  4. Great post; having had the wonderful experience of the Army Reserves behind me, I can honestly say that there have been times as a mom that made me look back on that long, long ruck march in basic quite fondly.

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  5. HOOAH!! Joining the Army was the BEST decision I ever made! I separated to raise my kids (hubby is infantry), but I do miss it. Now, I'm just married to it. I would gladly sign my life away again for this country if I could (health issues for me and Autism-PDD NOS for my oldest).

    BTW, they DO have vegetarian MREs, I've seen them and have even eaten one or two when I was in. Cheese Tortillini and Minestrone soup were the two I remember.

    Praying for you and yours! :)

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  6. Don't forget the across the board presciption of an 800 mil. Motrin for all sick calls. Take a motrin and get back to work.

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  7. This brings back good, ok maybe not so good memories, only for me it was the US Navy. Thank you for my, just got to work, but not working yet, laugh! I needed that on this fine, fine, monday morning.

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  8. @Jenrunyan -- Ahahahahaha, I remember that.
    @Angela -- I would never have DARED ask my drill sergeant for a vegetarian MRE. I guess I could have tried to trade with someone. The mess hall was the bigger problem. I would have been limited to eating that giant block of cheese.

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  9. Oh my goodness. My respect for you was already really high, but it just reached super high. I had no idea you are a soldier. Now I officially love you. But not in a creepy stalker way, cause as much as I work out I have never been trained to kill. So THAT's why you can be so calm in all the school meetings, you are secretly imagining all the ways you could hurt them, aren't you? I knew it. :) Thank you so much for sharing!

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  10. CHECK OUT all my military readers! So awesome.

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  11. @Penny -- It does boost your confidence somewhat. : )

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  12. Wow...I had no idea you were more awesome than I thought...

    Thanks for serving our country!!

    And I totally loved this blog....I am definitely going to share with everyone!!

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  13. Awesome post!! And you may hate me for saying this, but when I was little Private Benjamin was one of my favorite movies.

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  14. I think I love you even more now! I didn't serve, but my husband is current army. I just read this to him and he laughed with much appreciation at the similarities. Thanks for keeping it real.

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  15. Do you remember those cute army-green T-shirts you made that said "motherhood:the toughest job you'll ever love" as mother day presents.

    One night Y.K.W. woke up with a stomach virus and used me in the shirt as a catch basin.

    i guess that made me a "decorated" veteran...decorated with barf that is...

    Hugs from fluffya!

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  16. Thank you for this. It was great. Does this mean that when you have to send your kids into surgery that we get the Purple Heart? 'Cause that'd be cool.

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  17. Wow! I loved you from the first time I started reading this, but now I have a much bigger respect for you!! I agree with another comment that said no wonder you can stay so calm in all those school meetings.
    While I myself have never served, my husband is a Marine and I know that his training has definitely helped him out in the daddy department!
    Thank you for your service then and your service now in providing me with daily laughs during yet another deployment!! :)

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  18. loved this! (yet again, of course)

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  19. My hubby is former Marine (Forced Recon), so I have a HEALTHY dose of HOORAH around all the time. My favorite military saying that I use with my kids more often than I should admit (proves I am an awesome mom, btw), "Buddy's half a word." Do you know that one?

    My boys are often found in leaning rest, and have been doing pushups until my hubby 'got tired' since they could walk.

    I find that the military background my hubby brings to our family is a true benefit in so many ways!

    As always, thanks for the laugh!
    Hartley
    www.hartleysboys.com

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  20. OH MY GOSH!! My friend linked me up with your blog - I am an ex-Army chick and mommy to 4, so it's relevant, but I didn't expect such funniness (yes, I KNOW thats not a real word)! Your write really well and the comparisons brought back some seriously bad memories! No, really, they did. *wink* Thanks for sharing - I'm totally following you now. Well, not in a stalker-y kind of way....:)

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  21. I love you already SRMM, but I now have a deeper admiration for you and my respect for you had just doubled, and it was pretty darn high before. You are awesome.

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  22. Wow, you are not only an awesome mom that rocks you are a ROCK STAR mom and patriot. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your service to our country. Also a huge thanks to all your military readers and military spouses. Your sacrifice makes our country great. God bless you all.

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  23. Another awesome post! Thanks for the credit, the laughs, and the service to our country.

    That's so true about Chuck E. Cheese pizza, by the way --- yuck!

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  24. Amen to that! And I'm of the "Thank you for serving" variety.

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  25. Another Army veteran here....and I LOVE this post!!

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  26. I absolutely love this post. Sharing this with all of my friends-military moms and civilians. :)

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  27. Thanks for your service SRMM! The comparison sounds apt for sure. I'm impressed how many vets read this site as well. Lots of "military strong" moms. Keep up the good work!

    physicsmom

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  28. So, I should have taken my dad's advice and gone into the army. How was I supposed to know? Also, I'm not sure spam in meat. And you're description of sitting in a rain filled hole brought to mind that scene in Platoon where Charlie Sheen is sitting in the rain. Sometimes my brain doesn't quite work right.

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  29. Just catching back up on your posts and loved this one! I'm prior AF, 10 yrs in, now out to raise my kids, but couldn't stay away, so I'm going back into the reserves. It is so true...yet sometimes I wonder how I could do my military job with ease most of the time and deal with all kinds of people yet my 9 month old and 2 1/2 yr old push my limits and break me down emotionally...why is that? Keep up the great writing!

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  30. Great post and such a good reminder. We are a military family and I couldn't relate more! My husband just left on a deployment and thus I have entered into 'single' mommyhood. Started to feel like I was losing my mind, and although I probably still am - this was a great way to put everything back into perspective. Thanks so much!

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  31. I was directed here by a struggling mom. As a 'Nam-era Navy vet, I want to thank you for serving. Hoowah!

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  32. I went to basic training in Fort Jackson too! Everything is dead on. Although I forgot about the whole "high speed" thing. I heard it a lot. In the sarcastic way. "Front, lean and rest position, move!"

    My friends husband is a drill sergeant and he stills cares me. 8 yrs after the fact.

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  33. I was at Ft. Jackson in 1988...oh the memories!

    Though hey, the person who is protesting is just as patriotic as the person serving...they are just doing it a different way. Dissent keeps us from being all self-righteous about the way we do things - as a country and as a mom!

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  34. As a Veteran myself I recall each of those things and as a mommy I totally know what you mean. Oh and did I mention I hate dirt? Yeah I do. It wasn't fun but I did it anyway. ;)Oh and I went to basic with a vegetarian. We would gather our MRE's that were vegetarian and trade with her for her meat ones. My only requirement was that she NEVER give me the omelet because we all know that is an orange block of s*** I agree best decision I EVER made. I am now in school full time with American Military University.

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  35. God Bless You, Thanks for your service. **==

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  36. How. Did. I. Miss. This. First. Time. Around?

    I need to write the corollary for Peace Corps. Not as hard as the Army, but also less well-paid.

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  37. Another Army vet turned Mom here. Private Benjamin came out right around when I was in Basic Training.

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