It’s been a while since I’ve laid it all on the table for your folks, and at the risk of criticism and judgment, it’s time to be straight with you.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t second guess my decision to go to OTS.
I’m not talking on a daily basis, but just every now and then during a weak moment or when I read about the effects of separation on children and their parents (particularly nursing mothers). Kids change things, mark my words. I think everyone knows that, but you really know that when you’re in those shoes. We sign up knowing that sacrifice and separation are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean I/we have to embrace it, at least not all the time.
Originally, I thought I was going to have to leave on or before January, which seems unfathomable now. I’m so thankful that it’s not the case. DD is 8 months old and I’m still nursing her – I’m determined to make it to a full year. Ideally, my freezer stash will support her while I’m gone, and any other milks she gets at the time when I’m gone will be coconut or the like – no formula. [Not trying to start breastfeeding versus formula debate here, it’s just my preference for my child.] If I’m able to get my preferred school date, she’ll be almost fourteen months when I leave. It breaks my heart just thinking about having to ween her prior to when she and I are ready to stop nursing, so I can stop lactating before I leave for OTS. I don’t know how I’m going to deal, emotionally, with knowing she wants to nurse, I want to nurse her, but I can’t. Or holding her close and discouraging her efforts. It’s how she goes to sleep every night. Will I have to start putting her in her crib before I leave, so she gets used to not being nursed to sleep? Right at the time when I’m going to want to be as close to her as possible, to cherish every minute before I have to leave. When I return, is there any hope of relocating? Will she reject me because she doesn’t understand why I’ve left her for so long? Will she reject nursing or my attempts to start it back up? I’m going to come home to a “new normal,” even in the mere nine weeks that I’m gone. I’m so, so thankful that this is OTS and not BMT; I’ll have many more opportunities to call home and hopefully FaceTime. So, when I tell you I haven’t heard about my package, it’s true. It hasn’t been sent off for final submission yet, and I’m ok with that. I don’t even have a school date yet, and who knows what The Powers That Be will do with me. I haven’t tossed it by the wayside, I am still following through and doing everything on my part. I’m just not stressing as much when I hit walls, like when I’m told to come back later to process paperwork. What will be, will be. Nothing is set in stone yet, and I need to live in the moment and take advantage of every second that I have with my daughter. I am at peace knowing that I don’t need this to happen (commissioning) for the sake of supporting my family or to achieve a sense of purpose. I know that opportunities for leadership exist in both the enlisted side and on the officer side and that I will make the most out of my career no matter where my path takes me.
All I can do is live in the moment, and let tomorrow’s worries not affect my days.
[Side note: I’m definitely aware that nine weeks is nothing in comparison to a deployment, or even a tech school. Preparing myself, emotionally, for that separation is easier said than done, especially as a nursing, first-time mom. Much respect to all of those who’ve had to do longer separations earlier in their children’s lives. It’s hard, it sucks, all the way around, but that’s the responsibility we’ve assumed.]