The challenges of being a Female Officer and Mom?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by howacupcake, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. howacupcake

    howacupcake Member

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    I have been pondering this lately..how do female officers manage to do their job and take care of their kids? What happens when a female officer gets pregnant? If the mother and father are both in the military and are deployed at the same time, do other family members take care of the children? I am a female myself and want to be a military officer. I would like to make a lifetime career out of the military, but later on down the road I also want to have some children. Any insight on this topic in general is appreciated. There is much to be learned.:thumb:
     
  2. AROTC Parent

    AROTC Parent Member

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    howacupcake,

    Parenting isn't easy even outside the military. It can be done. Plan for a lot of time and research for good childcare. We used in home care with both good and bad results. Our childcare experience on military bases was great.

    The most difficult time was when we were not stationed together. I used a full time live in nanny then. This will happen. "Needs of the Army"

    Expect time away from your children with deployments and training. My husband and I calculated he spent more time as a single parent caring for our oldest before she was one years old than I did. This changed when we were not stationed together and I was the single parent with a full time nanny.

    The end result....our children are in college and doing well.

    We never experienced deployment at the same time but our 'Family Care Plan' was that my sister would have custody if necessary.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  3. howacupcake

    howacupcake Member

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    Thank You AROTC Parent. It is pleasing to know that everything worked out well and that your kids are in college (one is in the Army I am guessing based off your username)? Do you recommend any good books on this particular situation? (Female/mothers in military?) What helped you to pull through? Thanks!:thumb:
     
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    No offense howacupcake, but if I am correct you are going to the AFA, that means you have at least 4 yrs before you can even get pregnant, 9 months pregnant and you are at 5 yrs from now.

    I understand you want both the career and the family, but even if you have a love in your life right now, the reality is many enter with their hs sweetheart only 2% marry them. That is why they are called the 2% club.

    Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. I know many women that make rank to O5/6 just like their male counterparts with children.

    I can also tell you that you don't need to read any book, because right now in the ADAF world you have two great role models living it everyday.

    Jeannie Flynn and Nicole "Fifi" Malachowski. They not only are married with children, but broke the glass ceiling in the "boys" world. Jeannie was the 1st woman to fly fighters, and now has her 1st star. Fifi was the 1st female in the Thunderbirds.

    I am betting AROTC parent, Jeannie and Fifi would all answer the question of what helped you pull through the same way...a great spouse who supports you and your career as much as theirs. No book can give you guidance on this issue because that is a personal choice of the heart.

    Good luck at the AFA.
     
  5. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    Pima, I can still understand the concerns when looking at the way of life in general if someone wants to have a family eventually and still have a career in the military.

    I will say, being an Army brat of two Army officers, it totally is possible. I would like to think that I didn't turn out horrible, and I still had a pretty good homelife all things considered growing up.
     
  6. lotsofbooks

    lotsofbooks Member

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    My d (she doesn't have children yet) but works alongside of others who do---mentioned that someone had told her the biggest problem was figuring out who would have custody of the kids. These were couples that were blessed to have both sets of grandparents able to assume care of the children. Naturally the mom wanted her parents to be named, the husband wanted his parents. It sounded like it was kind of an ongoing issue for some people. From my perspective, I think it's nice they have two sets of grandparents that enjoy good health.

    She also works with single parents----
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    The only time I really saw issues was when they didn't realize that the AF will do everything in their power to base you together, but the key word is "theater".

    Jeannie's DH is a 16 pilot, she is an 15E pilot. As they went up the ranks it became harder to be stationed near each other because of career jobs. For example, Jeannie was offered a squadron command at the same time as her DH. Hers was at SJAFB, his was at Shaw, both in Carolina, but one was North and one was South. They were fortunate because her command was a training squadron and his was operational. The reason that is important goes back to the kids issue. If both were operational, they both could be sent away at the same time. Additionally, as hard as a long distance marriage is when you have kids, it is harder if one goes away for 4-6 months, and upon their return the other one leaves for 4-6 months, basically a yr. Understand with AEFs like the 16 and 15E, the rule of thumb has been you deploy to the sandbox 4-6 months every 18 months. So for them it would be 2 yrs out of 3 they are apart.

    I have to say, from my friends that were in dual ADAF marriages, there were 1 or 2 paths they took.

    1. One spouse, will take a desk job for the great career opportunity for the spouse.
    2. One spouse will resign/retire their commission because it becomes too hard to advance your career when both of you are O5s...jobs matter for promotion, and if you follow the job there is no guarantee both of you will be assigned near each other.

    I know 5 guys, all fliers, that actually gave up their career for her. The thing they had in common was how they all responded when asked why they were leaving. "She has a better chance of getting a star than me".

    It was a common sense decision. The funny thing is they all became Mr.Dad and hung with the wives socially during the days, but when it was functions at the squadrons he was one of the guys because he use to be one of the guys. Most of them will tell you they got the good end of the deal. I do not know of a squadron that there isn't a Mr. Dad.

    As a realtor dealing with military families in No VA. I would say it was a 50/50 situation of her/him AD. We sold one of our homes in NC to an AD officer with a non-AD husband.

    I forgot to also state to cupcake, she doesn't even need to walk too far when she is at the AFA to see that it works. Gen. Gould's wife, Phyllis is a Col. in the AF. She opted to get out and go Reserves, but they did it and IMPO did it well since both of their boys (way before he went to the AFA) graduated from the AFA.

    It can happen, but again, you are 18, and you have at least 5 yrs before this becomes an issue. Who knows what will happen in the future. Live for today, tomorrow is still tomorrow and life tends to get in the way even if it is just 24 hrs.
     
  8. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Great post Pima! :thumb:

    cupcake, just let everything fall into place. If something is meant to happen, it will happen
     
  9. howacupcake

    howacupcake Member

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    Thanks everybody!:thumb:
     
  10. ArmyMomof2

    ArmyMomof2 New Member

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    It can be done!

    I was comparing maternity leave policies among all services and in the process of my search I came across your blog. Although your post was done many months ago, I found it very relevant to me as a dual military officer since I just had my second child two weeks ago. Your question is one I had for many years, the truth is there is not a perfect time for you to get pregnant in the military, especially if you are very competitive and are always looking ahead to what is the next best job for your career. Although I was always planning for that right time, it didn’t happen until I was in Command. It was challenging however, it allowed me to serve as a role model for my Soldiers as they were able to see that it is possible to be pregnant and efficient at your job. Furthermore, my husband deployed when I was 3 months pregnant, he did make it for my daughter’s birth but missed the first six months of her life. As if this was not enough my unit received orders to deploy while I was on convalescent leave, upon my return the focus was deployment training. My husband redeployed in Sep 2010 and I deployed in Oct 2010. I share this story with you to make you and other readers aware of the reality of being in the military, at least in the US Army, where the deployments don’t necessarily match your spouse’s timeline. This second pregnancy was completely different as we were both in a yearlong course, which provided much deserved quality family time. We are both heading to joint assignments and although I don’t anticipate any deployments right now I realize that we will be working long hours and will once again be forced to efficiently manage work & family time, ensuring the best for our children. Given our experience I know it is possible to both have a great career and raise a family. As with anything worth striving for it is not easy, as it requires lots of patience, support, and love from each other, as well as support from immediate family members that are willing to go the extra mile in times of deployments.
     
  11. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    As the father of a young lady who will be starting her military career in a little over a year, I want to thank you for your words of encouragement to those here who may themselves find themselves in a situation similar to yours. While some of them wonder how it will work, you have made it clear that there is not a clear way to make it all work, but that one can be found if you work at it. I think that is all one can ask.
     
  12. bzzzt

    bzzzt New Member

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    Watching it Work, and taking notes...

    I'm an '06 grad. I'm in command. I'm married. And I consider keeping my feet and knees together important for more than Airborne School. But my Battalion Commander is an O5, married to a former service member, who retired, and they have four kids...and they make it work. My 1SG right now is a single parent, as his wife is deployed. So he's got his two here, and when he has a formation in support of something that I don't need to be at immediately, I pick up the kids from daycare, he's got the Soldiers, and we make it work.

    It's hard. But even so, after watching others do it successfully, it's possible. When we have kids (my husband's Active Duty, too), we'll do a Family Care Plan. If we're both deployed at the same time, my parents will take the kids. We've agreed on this, his family's not in a position to make it work as easily. But there are a LOT of great examples (and some crap ones, which show you how NOT to do it) out there. For example, I'm sure that there's at least one married instructor pair at your school. A bunch of my classmates are headed to the Academy to teach soon, and I know a few are planning on procreating while they're there.

    That's the biggest part. PLAN. Sometimes babies are "happy surprises." And sometimes they're accidents. We sent Soldiers home from Afghanistan because they got pregnant that last month on ground, and it takes a bit to show up on the test. So, say "bye" to your platoon and hope to God no one takes it as a planned action.

    My two cents!
     
  13. Marist College ROTC

    Marist College ROTC Member

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    This is great advice. Also the funniest thing I've read all week.
     

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