by Jenna Warnock
Service members sacrifice more than enough for our country. It is recognized through the Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day, certain discounts, movies, books, and the list continues to grow. From what I’ve seen growing up as an Army brat, when the service member has a spouse and children, these children are ultimately raised by two different types of “service members.”
I say this because I consider my mom as her own respective type of service member. Why? Because she sacrificed an amount I still am not able to fully grasp in order to raise three children. My most prominent memories of this were when we lived in Fort Irwin, California 15 years ago. I was 4 years old, my brother was 6, and my sister was 8 years old. I don’t remember much of my dad, but all I know is that he was deployed a lot while we were in California. What I do remember is my mom being there as the focal point for our family. Not only that, but I even saw as a four-year-old how much she sacrificed for me and my siblings which became more apparent as I grew older. She homeschooled my sister when she saw the local school undermining her education. She fought for my brother to get accommodations for his learning disability which took years to get. And lastly, she encouraged me to graduate high school early during Covid because she saw how much it was wasting my time.
For all three of us, she dedicated countless hours, time, and energy to raising us and also investing in our futures by ensuring we received quality education. During all of this, she had her gallbladder removed, shoulder surgery, and was told by a doctor that her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) would prevent her from walking by the time she was in her 40s. Needless to say, she is walking just fine, teaches yoga, and is a physical therapist assistant. She told me that what motivated her to prove that doctor wrong was her children and wanting to be able to raise us. My mom said that she was struggling to get up after playing with me as a baby due to her RA and wanted to be as present as possible when we grew up. That hit me so hard to hear because it perfectly highlights how intrinsically motivated my mom was to be there for us. She saw it not as her job, but as her duty, and she wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of that.
In seeing how my mom raised my siblings and the sacrifices she made, I either adopted a lot of her mannerisms or learned a few lessons along the way. While my mom worked hard to be a good mother, she always worked hard professionally too. She was a certified ophthalmic technician (COT) when my older sister was little, but had to make the choice to stop working after she had my brother and focus on raising the two of them. Even though I was born and she stopped being a COT, she found work starting her own business cleaning houses for military families PCSing that was flexible with raising us. I vividly remember coming with her to clean houses and being able to watch their TV with different movies I couldn’t watch at our own house (I’m looking at you Madagascar 2).
Over time, wherever we would move, my mom had the skill of being able to plant herself and grow beautifully in whatever environment the military put us in. She did this as a yoga instructor most notably, and particularly fell in love with healing others through the practice, just as it helped with her RA. As I and my siblings got older, she was able to slowly chip away at college courses to get into a physical therapy assistant program. It was a 10-year goal in the making and she did it. Why did it take her so long? Because she was a military spouse and a mother first, but she didn’t give up her personal goals either, no matter how long it would take to achieve them. I respect her so much for it. It taught me that you can sacrifice a great deal for the greater good. Which in this case, was her children, while still making time to improve yourself and grow as a person.
Because of my mom, I have taken the same sentiment to heart. Family and personal relationships will always be a priority for me. But with seeing what my mom achieved and what a person is capable of through her example, I will never lose sight of my personal goals and aspirations. She is the epitome of balance where you do not have to choose one over the other or place one above another. The two can live side by side, creating a pattern of fulfillment. I have witnessed, though, times growing up when there were struggles of finding that balance. I have seen her overwork herself and also prioritize us to the point her own needs were set aside. But I can say confidently now that she has learned to balance it through experience. I am grateful to have learned through her example not just as a mother or a military spouse, but as someone who cares both about her family’s success and her own success.
I love you, mom.
Jenna Warnock is a dietetics student currently attending Appalachian State University. Her interest areas include hormonal health, functional medicine, and public health with the intent of becoming a registered dietitian for the veteran population. Jenna is also an RD2BE [Registered Dietician 2 BE] intern and serves as RD2BE Social Media and Marketing Intern, Student Host of the RD2BE Podcast, and Content Developer.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.