How Being in the Military Prepared me for Motherhood

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April 28, 2013 by Katia

Let me start with a full disclosure: reading the title alone will send my husband rolling on the floor in bouts of uncontrollable laughter, the reason being the boldness of that statement. Make no mistake, I did serve in the army for a total of 21 months, but my actual exposure to a military setting, as opposed to an office one, lasted a little over two weeks and it was during my initial basic training period. In Israel, where I’m originally from, military service is mandatory for both genders and it starts after high school.

The fact that I’m a former Sergeant comes in handy when I need to impress/shock/bond with my Canadian coworkers over a True or False Facts About Me team building game, but I’ve never been a Commander and all I had to do to earn that rank was to show up and complete my military service. Depending on the type of role and force you’re in, some Sergeants will have more heroic achievements under their belt. My most heroic achievement to date is giving birth to and mothering my two boys, 3-Year-Old and 8-Month-Old.

As a mom, I’ve come to realize, years after completing the service, that there are some undeniable parallels between my past and present. The military was, in a sense, my first exposure to some of the experiences I go through on a daily basis as a parent and therefore a good crash course. I give you some of the similarities I’ve found between the two. Atten-tion!

  1. In the military you get woken up at unexpected times for night drills and room inspections. Is it really necessary to continue this line of thought?
  2. During a military room inspection, your Commander will search the room meticulously including searching the window rails for food crumbs. Parenting too is all about food crumbs in your window rails.
  3. During shooting practices you will learn, as a soldier, to issue a threat first: “Stop, or I’ll shoot!” In parenting the exact same wording, although sometimes desirable, might be a bit too strong, but the sentence structure will serve you well when you replace the word Shoot with “take away your new toy!” Or “drink all of your chocolate milk”.
  4. In military you get to wear the same clothes every day. See where I’m going with this, new moms?
  5. In an army basis there is no such thing as “my room”.
  6. There’s also no such thing as privacy in the shower. Sorry, let me rephrase that – in the military there is not such thing as privacy. Period. Sound familiar?
  7. In military there’s no “please, drop down and give me 20” or “thank you for doing the dishes for the entire camp”. Get used to not hearing the magic words.
  8. And remember, you didn’t talk back to your Commander in the military and you won’t be talking back to your preschooler one.
Yes, Sir!

Yes, Sir!

Similar to parenting the military taught me some things I’ve never suspected about myself. At the age of eighteen, I got a glimpse of the me I am to others outside of my closest circle. Growing up in an over-protective female dominated environment, I was amazed to find out that my peers at boot camp thought I was resilient and could take on a Commander role. Parenting was another instance where I felt I could take on more than I ever expected of myself. As a young woman after completing my service, I often wondered whether it was a waste of time. I now see the benefits. If nothing else it’ll make me a really cool mommy one day, when my boys are old enough to be impressed/shocked/team build.

As you were.

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52 thoughts on “How Being in the Military Prepared me for Motherhood

  1. Dana says:

    No talking back to your commander? My kids would get kicked out immediately. Maybe I should start making them do push ups when they talk back. And I do think your boys will think it’s cool that Mom was in the military – milk it for all it’s worth!

  2. Maybe I should have been in the military. I’d be kicking some junior commando butt about now…

    • Katia says:

      Sadly, the only butt being kicked is mine, Sarah :-) I’ve gone back and revised the last bullet point realizing it probably sounded like I am the Commander here, whereas it’s the other way around :-P

  3. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    That is SO perfect! And wow, I am continually learning new things about you! You are pretty awesome!

  4. Janet Dubac says:

    I love the idea Katia! I really enjoyed reading your article! It was fun reading it! If your kids will be old enough to understand that they have a military mom, I bet they’ll be following every word you say. Thanks for sharing this! :D

    • Katia says:

      Thanks, Janet! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for stopping by. I’ll be over to visit your blog just as soon as the Jr. Commander naps for more than 1/2 an hour. :-)

  5. Never have been in the military myself I never quite realized the connection, but you truly proved it here with this passage and said a mouthful, Katia!!

    • Katia says:

      I’ve never realized it either, until I tweeted last week about being a grown up woman (and thought, hey, I might add I’m also a former Sargeant) who can’t win a diaper change battle with her baby! And then I realized. :-) Thanks so much, Janine!

  6. modmomelleroy says:

    Same here. My kids would have to drop and give me 50 quite often for all the back talk and room inspection/crumb consequences would be tough!

  7. love this fact about you, love this post, love you!! xo

  8. Julie DeNeen says:

    Wow I didn’t know you were in the military. I can see how it would be quite helpful to get you ready for parenthood.

  9. So impressed you were in the military but even more impressed you are raising kids! I can’t do either! Haha

  10. I love this metaphor! This is fantastic. I had never thought of the connection. But I can definitely see it. It’s like perpetual boot camp, of a sort. And, yes, I’m impressed that you have a military title.

    • Katia says:

      :-D I’m so glad I impressed you. I have to admit, I’m still pretty impressed myself, especially since I didn’t really have to do much except for show up. I love that you see the resemblance.

  11. Jen says:

    OK it prepared you, but did it matter? Cause I don’t know…once I got my life back if I knew I’d be in for another 18 or so involuntarily? Just saying. Love the no privacy, ever. He’s 7, still no privacy. He still thinks he can kiss my boob when he’s sorry. Dude, you’re 7.

    • Katia says:

      Just between us two, I don’t think anything can prepare you for parenting.

      I’m kind of glad your dude kisses your boob. It makes me feel better about mine being partially exposed to the neighbours this morning via uncurtained window and again on Saturday at the bank.

  12. Such a great comparison! And so true. My kids used to joke that I ran our home like a hotel if that gives you any idea about how the opposite of a military experience can be exhausting!

    • Katia says:

      Thank you, Cheryl. I’m afraid my house is run as the opposite of a military experience too. That is assuming I still run my house. If it’s my kids, then yes, my experience here is very similar to the military :-)

  13. Meredith says:

    Sounds like the PERFECT training to me. You rock it, Momma!

  14. Katia,
    You are so cool! Your boys are going to be completely impressed and realize they have the best mom ever. “Mom, you had a gun????” Love the line that motherhood made you realize that you could take on more than you ever expected of yourself. It’s done the same for me. You rock.

    • Katia says:

      Yeah, I’ll just leave the part out about it being a mandatory service and let them think I’m actually cool :-) I happen to think YOU rock, so I’ll totally take the compliment and run with it!

  15. MamaSchmama says:

    I am impressed and surprised which I love. I’m still searching for the cool thing from my past that will make my kids think I’m cool. I’ll probably have to wait until they start having kids. Then I’ll get some respect!
    Also, never thought about it this way but kids and military are shockingly alike. I wonder if someone knew that a long time ago when they developed basic training.

    • Katia says:

      :-)) yes, someone probably knew long before we’ve discovered the (SO) obvious connection.

      As for the cool thing in the past, don’t worry about it too much. You’ve got the whole cool thing happening in the present, remember? With the big move and life change, remember that? ;-) I thought that was pretty cool!

  16. Jen says:

    I loved this post….

  17. findingninee says:

    Loved it then. Loved it now. You. Are. Awesome. And yes – totally leave the part out about service being mandatory. Boys need reminders that their mamas are badasses.

  18. This is great. I can’t believe I’ve never come across your blog before. Especially because of the similar roots of our blog names. ;-)

    I agree with Kristi — you definitely need to use this to your advantage with your son some day. :)

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Deb! And oh, the names, that’s right! That’s awesome. Can’t believe I didn’t come across yours either, but I’ll head on over to check out your milk (ew, that sounded totally pervey).

  19. Melissa Swedoski says:

    Number 4 has to be my favorite, as I usually do the sniff test on my clothes each day, since I’m pretty much wearing the same clothes for at least two days in a row anymore. Although something tells me I don’t have the discipline to be in the military. Or be a mom, come to think of it.

    • Katia says:

      :-D Oh, you have the discipline for both, once military’s mandatory it kind of doesn’t really leave you with much of a choice. Thanks so much, Melissa, and for the RT as well!

  20. […] How Being in the Military Prepared me for Motherhood A Letter to my Four-Year-Old Son on his Birthday The Bleeding Red Dress […]

  21. Rabia Lieber says:

    Such a cute comparison!! I don’t even bother shutting the door when I go to the bathroom because I always end up with company anyway!!

  22. I loved reading this post! I never knew that about Israel! I could definitely see where having that sort of disciplined training would come in handy for parenting. Happy SITS Day!

  23. greenlisa9989 says:

    If you think those skills are handy now – wait 10 years! I survived and made it to my empty-nest status more or less unscathed, but reading your post makes me wish I’d had your military training…it’ll make you a fierce mother of teens!

    • Katia says:

      Oh, let’s hope so! When it comes to tackling teenagehood I don’t think I have much going for me other than this :-P Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Lisa!

  24. I love hearing about other’s experiences–especially when they’re different from mine. I think I would have hated being in the military, but I’m glad you look at it as enriching your life and adding to it. I think one area it could help me in is being more organized and structured in my day.

  25. What a cute post! I’ve never been in the military, but it sounds like it was good training for motherhood. ;-) Happy SITS Day!

  26. Sometimes we don’t know what we are capable of unless we push ourselves. Sounds like you’ve had plenty of experience. Congratulations on your SITS Day.

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