The Mamatoga Military Mom Series: Shelby

militarymoms Shelby's husband has been in the military for nearly 6 years and they are currently enjoying shore duty here in Saratoga. They have a 16 month old child.

What are some of the biggest challenges of being a military wife/mom? The biggest challenge here is the rotating shift work. Kids have their schedule and they need that, so there's a lot of missed opportunities for quality time. Overall, the hardest part in the uncertainty. Schedules change, everything is set in sand. I thought my husband was going to be there for the birth of our daughter, the boat schedule was golden. But then, it wasn't.

What are some of the unexpected challenges that you didn’t know you would face? The difficulty of being alone in an unfamiliar place. It's hard, there are things that make it easier like; a job, play group, school, exercising, joining the FRG (Family Readiness Group). It's scary sometimes to put yourself out there though.

What are some suggestions you might have for communities like ours to make military families feel more welcome? I feel like communities like this ARE more welcoming to military, because there isn't such a huge saturation.

What is your typical schedule like during the week? It varies from week to week  with my husbands schedule. Usually we go to the library twice a week, the Y 2-3x, Childrens Museum in Friday. FRG has an event once a week or so, and I try to go to UNOs for trivia twice a month, alone (hallelujah chorus)! Or at least do something by myself twice a week, for sanity.

What are some of your top must have products for the parenting part of your life? What are some non-mom must haves? Wet/dry bag, for dirty diapers or sippy and snacks, because almost all sippy cups leak. Dry shampoo too, that goes a long way to being able to brush oatmeal or bananas out of your hair. Baby wipes, always, everywhere.  Non mom items, I love a good solid (literally) perfume, easy to keep in my purse, and a straw fedora, it always looks polished.

What is one thing you’ve realized/learned about motherhood that no one ever told you before you had kids? That toddlers are little cave men, they want what they want, 5 minutes ago. And that it's so hard sometimes that you need a break, but you will be checking your phone every 2 minutes to make sure everyone is ok.

If you had an extra hour in the day you would spend it…? Reading , doing my nails and soaking my feet, it's embarrassing sometimes the things that get put on the back burner.

Do you find it hard or difficult at all to stay connected to friends/people in your life being a military mom?  The real friends will stick around no matter the miles or time. So no, but it is hard to say see you later so often.

Is there anything you find yourself doing as a parent that you swore you would never do before you had kids? I never thought I would be the parent that lets their child throw a tantrum in public (I'm talking planking, shoe throwing, back bending exorcist style) but sometimes she just need to express her frustration and I still need to buy toilet paper... {editor's note: LOVE THIS! Ha!}

What do you find tricky about your current set-up/schedule? What would you change if you could? I would eliminate swings (shifts), swings are the worst. Chris only gets to see our daughter for an hour.

Do you have any time for yourself? What do you do during that time? I try to do something alone twice a week. Trivia, going to the library, walking around downtown, thrift store shopping.

What do you like best about your current set-up/schedule? That he never has to have a 24 hour duty day every 3 days again. Ever.

What is the number one thing you would want non-military (civilian?) families to know about military families? Military spouses are NOT single parents, and it isn't the hardest job in the military. We chose to love men who go away for months at a time but even far away they are still an integral part of our lives, every moment.

The Mamatoga Military Moms Series is part of the My Mom Life Series. Read more about both here. If you would like to take part, please email me at jenny@mamatoga.com for more information.