Flying Solo: Milspouse Life During Sea Duty


Thank you to our very own, Emily, for letting us peek into her life

Let me preface by saying my life is pretty awesome. There are numerous categories of friends, acquaintances and total strangers that I know have a much harder, more demanding life than I do. However, whether we are solo parents, widows, single parents, financially strained or have more children or special needs, we all need a break and we all need those moments of sweet silence.

I am a Navy spouse of 16 years. My household includes: 1 male child – 8 years as my constant companion and my spouse, a Navy lifer who is rarely seen. I also have 2 dogs – a good dog and a repeat offender. I am lucky to work from home.

My spouse and many of my friends’ spouses, are currently on sea duty, forward deployed sea duty and they are gone, a lot. The joke is that my son and I live here, my husband just visits. And before you peg me as one of the “whiny spouses,” I’m not. I completely get my husband goes to sea and he will be the first to tell you that I’m one of those wives who doesn’t complain about it. Families aren’t issued in your sea bag, I get it. And in my case, this solo parenting, thankfully, it is a temporary thing. But, like everyone else I have periods of just not wanting to be the adult.

Recently, my husband visited us here for 2 weeks after being gone for 5 months. At the same time we we were fortunate to have my son’s BFF and his mom come to visit. We had a great visit, but unfortunately, they both left – Dad and BFF – on the same day last week. My son has been in a funk ever since. He is following me around like a puppy, won’t sleep by himself and is generally weepy. Good times.

This week started with the repeat offender dog eating the remaining ¾ of the pot roast my son had given a 9+. Gone. Taken, while I sat reading with my child and helping him with his homework.

Add on while my son was practicing riding his bike a few days ago, he knocked his boy parts on the bar of his bike. After watching him try and hobble to school the next day, and after a loud proclamation to no one in particular I didn’t want to be the parent and make the decisions anymore, we ended up in the ER. (PSA: trauma induced Testicular Torsion is a real thing and very dangerous). After getting thoroughly checked, he is fine, other than a groin strain. However, it was an entire morning spent in the ER. I got him back in time to school to take his spelling test, carrying him up the stairs because the elevator was broken. He is on medical rest – ice, Epsom salt baths and well, resting.

Yesterday, after mowing the lawn, doing laundry, scrubbing floors (repeat offender dog + white tile problems) and hanging out with my hobbled child, watching his choice of television programming – National Geographic specials – I love animals and I can only deal with so much polar bears are drowning, orcas are killing off the narwhals and penguins are being eaten by seals, we decided to go to dinner at the local all hands club.

My constant companion and I sat down, ordered our food and sat in silence. Serenity.

A family came in and sat at the table nearest to us. 3 kids, mom and the rarity on this base, dad. Mom sits, and immediately upon seeing my son on his tablet, and me on my phone, sitting in sweet silence, eating a meal that thankfully someone else cooked, gives me the judging side-eye, and not just once. Various things came to mind – you got a problem with me? Yes, It’s an enormous eat my feelings meal, I know. Do I know you? Do you recognize my child? Take a picture it lasts longer. Mind your own beeswax. But I sat quietly.

Instead, what I really should have said was this, I am a hands-on parent. I am grateful and thankful to have my son. I have spent 12 of the last 18 months alone with him doing, homework, piano, tae kwon do, swimming, modeling, cooking dinners, often times sleeping with him and just parenting. I also work and try to have some life of my own. Between giving birth without my husband, ship’s deployments, side deployments to Pakistan and other time consuming duties, of his first 3 years I have been alone with him for 90% of it. I have been this child’s constant. I don’t regret one minute of it. But, as one of my friends once said, a woman who has 3 boys of her own, “your child asks more questions than any other kid I’ve ever met.” We spend plenty of time talking, communicating and interacting and so, sometimes eating in silence is okay.

EmilyOr maybe you’re new on base and don’t realize solo parenting is part of the deal with being a military spouse and I firmly believe we are all doing the best we can. I would estimate 80-90% of the spouses on this base spend at least 75% of their time here solo. Because of the time spent alone, inevitably we all have those moments of just needing a little forgiveness. When I say no one doubts me or can point out my failings better than me, I speak the truth. As parents and people, military or otherwise, we need to be a little more understanding, a little more forgiving and a little less in everyone else’s business. In other words, mind your own beeswax.

Or I’d gladly send my son over to talk your ear off and watch depressing animal documentaries at your house.

Please share your “Flying Solo” moments in our comments below.