Or that a staff sergeant is issuing a scathing takedown of a crayon/couch/apple juice incident via satellite from Iraq.
These are military moms. And this is how they still manage to nag, nurture and bond with their children from 6,000 miles away.
About 220,000 women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. About 40 percent of active-duty women, or almost 85,000, are mothers, according to a Joint Economic Committee report. And of those, at least 30,000 are single moms.
That’s a lot of American kids who know that Mommy’s not going to make it to the dance recital, won’t be there for the birthday party and, to be perfectly truthful, might not come home at all.
The multi-tasking mom — our worries, our woes, our spit-up-stained business suits and overcommitted volunteering — is practically a walking cliche. But what about when Mom wears fatigues and a bad day means enemy gunfire?
Mom as soldier is still a cultural disconnect. We’re ready to see women as warriors, whether it’s Angelina Jolie playing one in an action flick or the real-life Col. Sylvia Moran judo-chopping her way through West Point. In the past, however, mothers didn’t leave their children to go fight wars.
Col. Lillian Dixon can tell you what it’s like. She was deployed twice to the Balkans, first when her daughter was just 5 years old. Phones were scarce on base. You’d get a phone card and wait in line and then get a few minutes on a scratchy connection to get all the news from Grandma and as many “I love you’s” to the child as possible.
Dixon, who is a serious big shot as a chief of staff in Iraq now, is on her third deployment. It’s much easier this time, with Skype and e-mail and a daughter about to graduate from college.
Yup. Single mom. Army colonel. Kid getting ready to finish Stanford. It’s okay to feel as schlubby as I did after talking to her.
Dixon ends up being a mentor to other military moms in Iraq. And there are many more this time around. It’s easy to recognize them. They’re the ones bonding in the bathroom or trying really hard not to lose it while deploying.
“Oh, I bawled going through security — totally,” said Maj. Elizabeth Sweeney, who is talking from a tent outside of Kandahar province.
Her 2-year-old is back home at Fort Drum in New York with her husband, who is also in the military. She had to pack up and deploy at midnight just 13 days after he got back from his deployment.
Her husband holds their daughter in front of the computer while Mommy makes those funny faces in the middle of the night far away, singing her favorite song. There’s a row of about 30 computers there. She’s not the only one goofy-faced or accidentally getting affectionate with the monitor.
“I jumped up and nearly hugged the screen,” Air Force Master Sgt. Tracy DeMarco told me, when she saw her daughter take some of her first steps via Skype.