Military Moms – Part One 

As we prepare to honor the men and women in the military this Veterans Day, there’s a group among them that deserves recognition, too – military moms.Though most of them aren’t enlisted, they certainly serve our country by holding down the home front while their loved ones are away.One such woman is Bangor author and columnist Sarah Smiley.Soon she’ll be taking on the mission of single mom as her husband heads out for a year-long deployment.For Sarah Smiley, life with three very busy boys rarely stands still.But she admits, in some ways it will soon be on hold.Her husband Dustin, a Lieutenant Commander at the Naval Operation Support Center in Bangor, is preparing to leave for his third deployment. “You’re married but you’re living like a single mom and everything is just sort of on pause a little bit.”Sarah certainly knew what life as a military wife would be like when she and Dustin married 11 years ago. Both of their fathers were Navy pilots in the same squadron.”I was born during my dad’s first deployment at sea so by the time I turned 22, he’d been a sea for a total of eleven years, so actually half my life. So I always said I would never marry anybody in the military.”Two other times when Dustin was deployed, the Smiley’s children – Ford, then Owen – were just weeks old and Lindell hadn’t been born. In some ways, this mission will be easier.”But there’s other ways it’ll be more difficult this time. They’re older. They know that their dad is gone, which before they didn’t. So I didn’t have to deal with where’s dad or them missing dad, like I was missing dad.”Sarah’s military enlistment by marriage is a common topic for her weekly column in the Bangor Daily News – a topic that has changed since her mother played the role of military wife. “I would say, and she would not like this, I would say that deployments for her were probably easier because she was at home. She didn’t have to juggle childcare. When Dustin leaves, I’ll have the added problem of now what do I do if I’ve got to go teach and they have a snow day, those sorts of things.””Our babysitters are great,” Ford says. “But having dad there is a whole lot easier.”Coping with Dustin’s deployment won’t be easy. Sarah says knowing it’s simply her husband’s job helps.”Just like being married to a doctor or a banker or whatever and so, you kind of put up with what that involves, just as he puts up with me writing about him every week.”Though proud of his work, Sarah’s now hoping Dustin’s military career – the moving, the missions – will soon come to a close so they can focus on raising their boys in Bangor and writing a new chapter in their family’s history.”You may not always like what they’re going to do. You may not always agree with what they’re going to do. But it’s who you married and even though him being military affects our life in so many ways and so fully, it’s still just a small piece of us as family.”Sarah says one of the hardest parts of life without her husband is when people ask her, how do you do it?She tries not to think about how she does it, but like any mom, just gets the mission done. She also knows she’s got a lot of friends and neighbors to help fill Dustin’s void.In Part Two of this special report, we’ll meet some military moms who’ve had to learn to let go of some of their duties at home, because deployment duty calls.