Fort Jackson Soldier Loves Being a Mom, Military Spouse
May 10, 2007
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Army News Service, May 10, 2007) - Being a parent and taking care of a home can be a challenge for anybody. Add to that being a Soldier and married to a deployed Soldier, however, and you have the makings of a super mom or dad.
Maj. Paula Smith, assistant chief of physical therapy at Moncrief Army Community Hospital, knows these challenges all too well. But for the mother of two and spouse of a Soldier deployed to Iraq, embracing these challenges is the key to happiness.
"It is difficult for anyone to manage both the military and being a mom. Both are very challenging because you can't slack off on either," Maj. Smith said. "The toughest challenge is finding that balance. And that doesn't happen overnight."
Maj. Smith married Maj. Jeremy Smith in 2000 after the couple met while serving at the same Army installation. Today the couple has two children: Ava, 4, and Harley, 15 months. Jeremy is currently training Iraqi policeman in his second deployment to Iraq.
"We have been apart for seven months and it has been hard," Maj. Smith said. "The trick is to keep some sort of schedule going. One night a week we have movie night and another night we have pizza night. I try to have as much quality time with my kids so they know they are supported."
Her husband's first deployment more than two years ago, however, wasn't as easy.
"I had all these feelings that I had never had before. I didn't know what to expect," she said. "I can't afford to worry all the time. I try to get through each day without wasting my energy on worrying. I am a little more prepared this time to know what feelings to expect."
Maj. Smith credits her chain of command and the Fort Jackson community for helping her to cope with her husband's deployment.
"I feel very blessed to be able to work at the hospital," said Maj. Smith, who formerly commanded the Fitness Training Company. "My chain of command has been very supportive of my daily challenges of balancing being an Army spouse, Soldier, mom and physical therapist."
Maj. Smith said she has found that accepting challenges and moving on is the best way to handle a difficult situation.
"You just have to embrace your situation and think about what is really important. One of the best coping mechanisms is to just accept what is happening and not let anything get you down," she said.
Maj. Smith said that one of her goals is to become a hospital commander.
"As a physical therapist and Soldier, she is really good at what she does," said Maj. Chris Waring, chief of physical therapy at MACH. "She has her hands in all kinds of things at the hospital, but at the same time, she is a very dedicated mother. When something needs to be done here, she is willing to come in late and bring her children with her."
In addition to almost daily phone calls and e-mails with her husband, Maj. Smith said her two children provide her with all the inspiration she needs.
"I am very blessed with the children I have. They have adapted very well and are very independent," she said. "I wouldn't change being a mother for the entire world. Nothing can take the mother out of me. They (children) are still our highest priority."
(Chris Rasmussen writes for the Fort Jackson "Leader.")