Who Lights Your Path?
My bedroom is dark. The only light is coming from the muted baby monitor on my bedside table flashing red. My early riser is yelling her protest. She is ready to begin this day, even though the moon and stars outside my window suggest it is still night. I pull myself to my elbows and breathe deeply. Then I hear a shuffle and a quick click. It is my husband taking the baby monitor off of its charger and venturing across the hall to start the day. Soft voices, baby giggles, and a few moments later the sound of coffee being made. I lay in bed close to tears. Tears of relief. He’s home, I remind myself. He’s home.
My husband is an officer in the Canadian Forces and for more months than I care to count his deployments have left me solo parenting our two little ones. Mother and military spouse. A merging of two titles bestowed upon me by the school of life that three university degrees and ten years of professional work experience didn’t prepare me for.
Entering into motherhood as a military spouse is hard. Hard in an isolating, disorientating, life shifting way. Often people have asked me how I do it and to be honest part of it is operating in survival mode for days at a time. The other part, the other source of strength that pushes me, well, that took me a long time to identify. Until finally I realized – it comes from my heart. You see, like many of you, I come from a long line of strong women, who happened to also be strong mothers, and they mothered under much more adversity than I. Unlike myself these women mothered alone without the reassurance that (god willing) their partner was coming home. Mothers who ran on faith, cups of tea, and the strong shoulders of neighbors who were more family than anything else. Mothers whose arms meant home and who’s words were as soothing as warm flannel on a cold night. It is these human examples of strength that live in my heart, that light my path, and fuel my strength in this season of my life. In my darkest hours alone as a young mother, who is also a military spouse, these women kept me going. They kept me going when I sank to the floor with hot tears falling down my face as my two babies wailed in their rooms in the black of night for hours on end. They kept me going when I tucked my baby monitor into my winter coat and shoveled my snowed in driveway night after night so I could get my vehicle out the next morning. Life must go on. It is these women who pulled me through the isolation that comes from living a life separate from the only other being on earth who knows better than I what I need to be ok.
Military spouse or not. Young mother or seasoned. Parenting solo or with another. When you reach your moment of hot tears, long unshoveled driveways and endless wailing, who lives in your heart? Who ignites your inner strength? Maybe it is a person in your life now or someone who is no longer with you. Perhaps it is something more spiritual. A universal energy maybe. Parenting books, experts, the latest research, they are all wonderful to have at our fingertips. But see past the pages, let stillness seep into your soul, then look into your heart and ask, who lights my path? You may be surprised who you find.
(Photo Credit: Phillip Durand)