tampabay.com

War duties put mom duties on hold

By NORMA McCULLISS
Published May 13, 2007


The baby has not slept for three nights in a row - teething can be painful.

The soon-to-be 3-year-old is exercising his independence, all the while asking why Daddy cannot give him his bath.

The third-grader is stumped on math homework and Mom is pulling her hair out. "Oh, for another pair of hands!" she cries.

But the other pair of hands is gone for a long time and the clock and calendar seem to idle slowly for her. She longs for some down time - a slow, warm bath with maybe some fragrant bath oil thrown in, or opening the book she has been wanting to read and actually completing the first chapter.

These are only pipe dreams. The three-month extension of his deployment in Iraq just eliminated most of her anticipation.

* * *

Across the world, the barracks are full of tension and a woman longs for more familiar sounds: her baby's laugh or even her baby's cry, her toddler's constant babbling, her third-grader's complaints about homework.

The sounds of war have become disturbing, not unlike the dripping of a faucet that cannot be fixed, and her down time, when it comes, is only for thinking, and thinking can be a big downer.

Her thoughts always revert to home. The hectic daily activities of a mom now are viewed as a day in paradise. She studies the snapshots hung above her bunk and sadly ponders the three-month extension of her deployment.

* * *

Moms in the military are plentiful, both here in the states and on the warfront. They are doing their jobs, handling their commitments and hoping for a solution so their efforts will not be in vain.

May is a time to honor all mothers. As we shop for the perfect card, gift or flowers for our mothers, we should turn our thoughts to those who are separated from family, not by choice, but by circumstance. Their devotion to home and country is deserving of our prayers and best wishes this Mother's Day.

Our pride in our fighting men and women should not be governed by how we feel about the war, but how we view the sacrifice of each and every one of these who choose to serve.

Norma McCulliss of Palm Harbor just returned home after a six-month "deployment" of sorts to Fort Hood, Texas, to help her daughter, U.S. Army Capt. and Iraq veteran Claire McCulliss, with her young children. Capt. McCulliss' husband, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 1 Vince Esponilla, is serving in Iraq. His deployment recently was extended until January.