Widow, Mom, Army & Law Student Wife
Favorite Quote: “Never let anything dull your SPARKLE!”
When I was 19 I got married to the man I thought I would spend forever with. Life was wonderful and got even better when we welcomed our son, Kason, into our family in 2007, 2 1/2 years after we were married. That same year, we found out my husband had Lupus. His case was particularly difficult to control and he was in and out of the hospital and was constantly undergoing tests. In 2009, on 4th of July weekend, he was admitted to the hospital again. After being there for two days, he took a turn for the worse and ended up in the ICU. Things didn’t get better but, continually took turns for the worse. After 6 weeks of struggling for his life, he lost his battle on August 19, 2009. At the age of 24 I was a widow and a single mom.
Single mom life was one of the hardest challenges of my young life. I was extremely lonely, family and friends were constantly trying to tell me how to live my life and how to parent, the dating scene was a joke (guys were either lots older than me with 2+ kids or they were my age but didn’t dare date a single mom…) & raising a child on my own was so exhausting. There were great days where I felt I could conquer the world but, on the flip side, there were the most challenging of days. After being single for what seemed like forever, dating many-a-different men… (er, boys?) and ultimately hitting the point where I just wanted to give up on ever getting marriage again, (and really it had only be 2 1/2 years but, I thought my life was over…) I was set up with a guy (Brad) who was in the Army. He was from Idaho, but was living in Georgia at the time, for military training. We met officially on January 1st 2012. We dated long distance for 3 weeks before getting engaged. A week after our engagement, the Army took him to Germany for his first duty station. We were then engaged long distance for 5 months! June 29, 2012 we were married in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple for eternity. He’s the best decision I’ve ever made…
One month after our wedding, Kason (5 at the time) & I, joined Brad in Germany. On our trip over, we got stranded in London, due to weather, and I sat on the airport floor and bawled my eyes out. International travel was rough and exhausting and I was certain I would never survive! Turns out, I did survive and life in Europe is the greatest thing ever. We traveled as often as we could and really soaked up the culture across all of Europe. Don’t get me wrong, it had it’s challenges, too! Being away from family was really hard, especially when weddings were happening or nephews were being born. The Army took Brad away on trainings quite a bit, and he deployed to Afghanistan after a year of us being there. Not only was I dealing with Army-life and a deployment and long distance relationships and no German language skills, we also dealt with infertility issues for 2 years while in Germany. It was so daunting. Friends were getting pregnant left & right and I just sat there, pregnant-less! Right when I thought it would never happen…we found out I was pregnant in January 2015. I was in disbelief and filled with gratitude and joy!!! A few months later (July), it was time for our family to pick up and leave our life in Germany. It has been the hardest move of my life. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t miss Europe.
We are now living in Maryland where my husband discharged from the Army and is attending Law School in D.C., full-time. We welcomed our little boy, James, to our family in the middle of his first semester (October 18) and we are still slowly adjusting to life in the Americas. Life is one beautiful, crazy, blessing and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
What Does A Regular Day In Your Life Look Like?
It has always been super important to Brad & I, that I stay home with the kiddos. Even though we are living on student loans, at the moment, we have made it possible that I just get to play mom everyday. During the week, Brad heads off to school around 7am (he commutes into D.C. about 45 minutes one way…) and I send Kason on the bus around 9. Then it’s just me and little James for the whole day! Sometimes we just lay around in pjs and binge on Netflix (our current fave is Parenthood!) while dabbling in housework or we venture out to Trader Joe’s or Costco or Target. If we’re feeling really brave we’ll go visit Dad for lunch. Kason gets home from school around 4pm and Brad gets home around 7pm, which is when we sit down for family dinner! After we get kids into bed, Brad studies some more for law school while I begrudgingly fold clothes or some other monotonous chore, while continuing my Netflix binges.
What is/was the toughest part of your story?
The toughest part was probably shortly after my first husband passed away. It was extremely hard to go from having a constant companion, to not having anyone I could fully relate to. Thankfully, hindsight is 20/20 and I think those experiences prepared me for military life and law school life. They taught me how to handle being the only parent, how to be alone & how to buck up and still thrive in any situation!
What is one of the toughest things you encounter in your day-to-day life?
Honestly, making it to bedtime (somedays…not always!). Sometimes I just want to pull my hair out as my 8 year argues about his chores or about not getting to play on the computer or…or…or. All while baby-man is entering his fussy time and I’m trying to get dinner ready. It’s a struggle for me to have my husband gone for such a huge chunk of the day. And it’s a struggle to not have family nearby.
Is there anything that would be helpful for other to people to know when interacting with you or people in a similar situation?
As widow/single mom: I think the stereotype is often that we’re crumbling and to treat us delicately. I would love for people to know that we aren’t fragile! We can be treated like normal humans who just need to reach out for hugs on occasion.
As a military wife: I think that they are often viewed as very prideful, freeloading, dramatic gals. At least, that’s what I thought before I became one. In reality, military wives are tough. Often times, they’re the ones holding the family together while their husbands are working 24 hours shifts or are gone for months at a time. Military wives are prideful but not in a bad way: they are proud of their husbands, proud of their branch of military and proud of the America their husband is defending. Being a military wife isn’t for the faint of heart, many-a-nights are spent alone & there’s always the constant fear that your husband might not be coming home. Military wives need just as much support as your other girlfriends!
What gets you/got you through the tough days?
How have you overcome the obstacles and challenges in your way?
I have not always overcome them gracefully. I think a lot of it came down to asking for help, both from my Father in Heaven and from family and friends. I can not take much credit for making it through my challenges. A lot of times, I come out stronger at the end of them, but I don’t remember much of the changing process. All I know is I’m still standing and I just feel stronger. I credit 99% of that to Heavenly Father and our Savior.
What advice would you give to others?
Keep going! Laugh. A lot. Smile, even when you don’t feel like it. Serve others. Cherish your loved ones. Never believe gossip you hear. Take time for YOU. Ask for help. Remember that you’re doing better than you think you are! Love people. Enjoy nature. Recognize your daily blessings. Travel. Eat amazing foods. Most importantly: Love yourself!
Life is absolutely beautiful. It only takes 5 minutes of humility to look around and realize that! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to really love and enjoy life!!