Maj. Pollard

Army Maj. Yolanda Poullard, deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, will spend her first Mother’s Day away from her 5-year-old daughter, Alahna. U.S. Army photo by Patricia Ryan

For active duty troops who are also mothers, Mother’s Day can be a happy day, or a bittersweet, “subdued” day.

For those fortunate enough to spend Mother’s Day at home with their loved ones, of course it will be a happy day.

It will be a specially joyous day for those “moms serving in uniform,” such as Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Sarah J. Campbell, who are fortunate enough to be finally home for that special day after an overseas deployment.

But how about those active duty military mothers who are deployed thousands of miles away from home on Mother’s Day — many of them in a combat zone.

For example, Army Maj. Yolanda Poullard who will spend her first Mother’s Day away from her 5-year-old daughter, Alahna, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

And Army Staff Sgt. Alisa Ballard who will spend her first Mother’s Day away from her 11-month-old son, Christopher, at NATO Camp Kaia in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Or Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sonja Parks, who will spend Mother’s Day away from her 9-year-old daughter, Sarah, and 2-year-old Rachel at Forward Operating Base Oqab in Afghanistan.

Poullard, Ballard and Parks are just three “among thousands of military moms deployed around the world who will observe a subdued Mother’s Day” this year.

How will they celebrate observe Mother’s Day?

According to Donna Miles at American Forces Press Service, these deployed mothers will rely “on technology, care packages and family photos to help bridge the miles between them and their children.”

Army Maj. Yolanda Poullard, has already had a taste of what to expect as she has already spent “an admittedly miserable Christmas holiday” in Afghanistan and has already missed out on her daughter’s fifth birthday.

So for Mother’s Day, she plans to keep herself busy, going to both morning and evening church services. A highlight, she said, will be Skyping or calling her mother, husband and daughter, all in central Louisiana.

She’ll also open the two cards that arrived from home, which she set aside to open on Mother’s Day. Not able to buy a card in Afghanistan, Pollard made her own to send to her mother, along with an Afghan scarf.

Army Staff Sgt. Alisa Ballard plans to ‘Skype’ her parents, focus on her own mother “for whom she has ordered both fresh flowers and a fruit arrangement, [and] dote over Christopher, who is living with his grandparents while both his parents serve in Afghanistan.”

So when Ballard rises on Sunday, she’ll put in a typical workday, hit the gym once or twice and possibly do some online college work.

“In order for me to cope, it has to be just another day,” Ballard said. “I’m not there and he’s not here, so I have to put myself in a different frame of mind and treat it as any other day.”

Miles adds:

Ballard’s stoicism is common among deployed mothers who are steeling themselves for what they acknowledge could be a tough day — whether it’s their first Mother’s Day away from their children or another in a long line of missed birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sonja Parks is “planning to retreat to the dormitory room she shares with an Army captain at Kabul International Airport for a private family celebration via Facetime.”

She “will open the special package that’s still en route to Afghanistan while 9-year-old Sarah, 2-year-old Rachel and her husband, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Parks, watch from afar near Andrews Air Force Base, Md.”

Sonja Parks

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sonja Parks, right, enjoying a recent trip to Disney World with her family, will spend Mother’s Day in Afghanistan. Courtesy photo

Miles adds:

“My 2-year-old loves to see me open the boxes she sends me, and she’s so proud of herself about her colorings or any other things she has put in there,” Parks said. “I put them up on the wall or around the room. It’s a piece of them, with me all the time.”

The celebration will be far different from Mother’s Days at home, which for the Parks family typically begins with morning church services followed by a picnic at a nearby park.

“It’s always a very special day,” Parks said. “My husband cleans the whole house and the girls spoil me all day.”

In a Mother’s Day message, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recognized all mothers in the military family, but has some special words for deployed mothers:

To the many mothers serving in uniform around the world, we thank you for the sacrifices you make every day to keep all of our family safe back home. Your hard work and dedication to raising children while defending our nation is an inspiration to all of us.

Please read here how these brave, stoic mothers cope with the stress, sometimes guilt, of being away from their families — especially on their day — and how they steel themselves for what could be a tough day — “whether it’s their first Mother’s Day away from their children or another in a long line of missed birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.”

All photos and captions courtesy DOD

Source:”Deployed Moms Prepare for Subdued Mother’s Day Observances” by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
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Copyright 2013 The Moderate Voice
  • dduck

    Thanks to all moms, especially the ones in harm’s way.