Why I Became An Army Mom Despite My Boss’ Objections
Words: Maxine Reyes
A superior questioned her decision to have a baby, but it only made this Army mom more determined to figure out her work-life balance.
My husband and I are both Army officers. We both joined the military immediately following high school and have committed our entire adult lives to providing security to the American people.
During his first deployment to Afghanistan, my husband and I decided that when he got back, we would extend our family. I immediately saw our family physician to find out what I needed to do in order to prepare for my pregnancy, and I had a candid conversation with my commander and told her our plan to bring a baby into the world. Since she was already an Army mom and a spouse of a fellow Army officer, she knew the sacrifices and challenges ahead of us as an Army family.
But even amidst this happiness, I was concerned that my career would be affected...
Once my husband returned from his 15-month deployment, we immediately started trying for our baby. It wasn't long before we received the awesome news from our doctor that we were expecting! We were in awe of how quickly everything happened: He was only home for five weeks and we were already on the road to becoming parents. We were completely overcome with the blessing that we wanted to share it with the whole world. It used to be a dream and now our dream was becoming a reality.
But even amidst this happiness, I was concerned that my career would be affected by becoming a mom. Being a leader of troops is a very demanding task—I feared that the long hours required would keep me away from my baby. Knowing my work ethic, I would spend too much time at the office because I want to be successful in my career.
I gave the good news to my chain of command and everyone was excited for me. But one of my senior officers asked a question that dumbfounded me: "Is she going to keep the baby? We have plans for her to deploy in few months." I cannot in good taste share my immediate reaction. Can you imagine after more than a decade of sacrifice to the military, working in an environment that does not provide a “right time”? After my husband dedicated 15 months of our lives, he had the gall to ask that? I had to quickly retreat to Luke 23:34 and replace "they know not what they do" to "they know not what they say.”
Fortunately, this senior leader proved to be the exception and not the norm. I’m so grateful that every other leader, peer, and subordinate alike was supportive, saying, "It's about time!" Since then, we’ve enjoyed the love and support of our friends and relatives; that’s what truly matters most.
Once past that obstacle, we were able to enjoy the experience of being expecting parents. Victoria was very active in my belly. She became my companion and my most loyal friend for she never left my side. She would kick and swim as if asking me to play with her. I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy and did not want these amazing times to end. The best nine months of my life went by so quickly, and before we knew it, Victoria was born!
Now I had an infant who desperately needed her mother just as much as her mother desperately needed her infant. I felt so blessed that the Lord granted me the privilege of becoming a mother and entrusted me with the responsibility of shaping his newest child. But when my maternity leave came to an end, I was frantically concerned about who would care for my child. It was surprisingly hard just leaving the house without her to get groceries. I didn’t know how I was going to cope with some stranger watching over her all day.
Even though I didn’t want to quit my career, I considered becoming a stay-at-home mom and leaving the military. I had so much to give and I had invested so much time in my career: I’ve managed levels of responsibilities that are typically faced by leaders of Fortune 500 Companies, but I also had a new role that was just as important to me.
I confided all my fears, doubts, and concerns to my husband and my two girlfriends Francine and Tracy, who were both military moms (Francine is a Marine and Tracy an Airman). They both knew what I was feeling and had struggled with the same emotions. There were countless people in my circle who encouraged me and I am grateful. Their counsel strengthened me and helped me build a resolve that allowed me to conquer my fears.
I’m not going to lie it was hard. I cried a lot and prayed for strength. My husband encouraged me to do what I felt was best for me and I chose to do what was best for Victoria. I want to be an extraordinary role model for her, not just a good one. I wanted to show her the strength of a woman is equal to a man’s. I wanted her to know that a woman can overcome any fear, no matter how debilitating it may seem at first.
My struggle continues with every new assignment when I have to relocate. Victoria is now 6 and she is one of the most resilient children I know. I’m spending as much time with her as I possibly can, and raising her to be the best version of herself. I’ll teach her to always strive to reach her potential. If she finds herself in my position, whatever decisions she makes, she’ll make them wholeheartedly and with confidence.
Maxine Reyes is an officer in the United States Army based in Orlando, Florida as Commander of Recruiting and a mother. You can read more about her journey in her upcoming book, Army Officer, Army Wife.