Today, I read a beautiful Facebook post by my friend and fellow MFAN Advisory Board Member, Kellie Artis. Kellie is an amazing woman who is a creative, an advocate, a mom, and a military spouse, among many, many other things. This post stopped me in my tracks and I asked her if I could share it as a guest post on Jo, My Gosh! She graciously allowed me to reprint her words for you. Thank you, Kellie, for an amazing piece and perspective on the human cost of global conflict.
I took the kids to a chain restaurant tonight and sat across from a table of ~10 women, each with at least one, some with two, infants and toddlers. My first thought was maybe it was a mom-outing… but let’s be real. No one wants to take babies out to dinner on a Saturday night. My next conclusion was that more likely, they were in the midst of this “whirlwind.”
The mamas were quiet.
Passing babies from one set of arms to the next. Scooping up blankets and toy cars that dropped from the table.
Smiling forced smiles.
They seemed pensive.
Like they were meeting for the first time. They probably were. Joined by this thread of service and sacrifice.
Another thing that struck me is the fact that they have NO IDEA what the end state of this will be. How old will their babies be when their partners come back? How many months will they miss? How many family/LIFE plans now need to be canceled?
Uncertainty is a given in this lifestyle, but it hits hard when it’s out of the blue and under such looming circumstances. There’s a painful tension between pride and apprehension; importance and fear.
I sat from my table knowing exactly how hard all of those feelings are from earlier troop surges. I remember sitting alone during one such deployment with my sister and 6-month-old daughter at a Fayetteville restaurant and our server came over to tell us our meal was taken care of by another patron. She didn’t tell me who, but I knew. There was an older couple sitting in a corner, he with his Vietnam-era VFW cap on and she with sympathetic tears in her eyes. We barely exchanged words, I couldn’t without sobbing, but we didn’t have to. She squeezed my hand as we stopped by their table to thank them and that was all we needed to share. I’ll never forget that.
This afternoon, before dinner we made a Target run and I saw more uniforms than normal for a Saturday. Odd only if you’re aware of how many soldiers are on standby right now and can’t spare precious moments with a wardrobe change should they be called in. A young mom had a VERY cranky two-year-old with her in the checkout line behind me. Also not terribly uncommon, but on second thought… she may be in this whirlwind too. I was admittedly a tad annoyed by the screaming child for longer than I’m proud to say, but she suddenly stopped crying. I turned back to see why and an older woman with a grandma-bearing was hunched over chatting with her sweetly.
Regardless of your thoughts on what’s going on (and trust me I have MANY), remember to be kind and compassionate. Especially on social media. Especially here in Fayetteville and any other military town. Deployments are hard, but no-notice deployments are jarring.
Kellie Artis is the COO of MILLIE, a startup committed to alleviating the stress of frequent relocations for military families. She is an Army spouse, military family advocate, and community builder. She also serves on Military Family Advisory Network’s advisory board, a nonprofit committed to connecting military families with the resources they need to thrive. She’s a book nerd, coffee addict, and enneagram 5 who occasionally ventures out into the wild (usually for coffee). Kellie has been married to her Soldier for 13 years and currently resides in Fayetteville, North Carolina with their two children. Follow MILLIE on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter. You can read the MILLIE Journal and join the Moving the MILLIE Way Facebook Group, too. Listen to Kellie’s podcast, Advice Not Given, for a conversation between friends that you’re invited to eavesdrop in on.