May 9, 2015
My 12-year old daughter, Adira, is still trying to figure out what to do with life after school. One thing she knows: she wants to serve, just like her mom.
Recently she brought up my fellowship at The Mission Continues, where I served for six months working as an advocate on the Rape Recovery Team at The Women’s Center of Jacksonville. But of course, you have to serve in the military before continuing your service in the first place. So did she have an interest in joining up?
“Umm, a little,” she answered. I asked her why.
“Because there needs to be more badass women in the world!”
We laughed. My daughter is very much part of my continued service.
She has volunteered several times, doing fun stuff like building a float for the Jacksonville pride parade and helping with outreach.
She also jumps on the not-so-fun tasks, like assembling information binders and correcting hundreds of cards in the office. She has a busy schedule, but whenever possible, she works by my side at the women’s center.
That day in the car on the way to her golf practice, we talked about what she could do in the future as alternatives like the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. We also talked about my time in the Marines. She enjoys the funny stories like the pee spot (a retirement formation in the desert that went horribly wrong for a dear friend) or getting marched into a ditch carrying the battalion guidon–not to mention any story involving boot camp or Mexico. But on that day, I tried to talk about my service in a more serious way.
I talked about what it means to serve in terms of work ethic, duty, and honor. What it means to have choices and how hard she has to work in order to be in the position to make them.
But I also talked about what can be gained, even in unexpected ways that strengthened our relationship. She is a part of my service story. I was on active duty when she was born, and I worked in the field while I was pregnant with her. That year of my service was challenging, and I was exhausted, but I became a better technician and person because of her. She taught me about priorities, focus and balance. I took those skills to work with me.
Mother’s Day is a reminder of the joy a child can bring into the world. But for me, the day is also one of the saddest holidays.
On Mother’s Day, no one is taking me to brunch, buying me flowers, or giving me jewelry. In the large picture, none of that matters much to me, but instead of celebrating motherhood, I worry about my daughter’s future, and if I’m a good role model for her as a single parent.
I love being Adira’s mom. She is great in all the ways that count. She is on the honor roll at her school, a golfer and she makes time for community service. She’s caring, compassionate and articulate. She has a different crazy dance for every day, and has taught me to keep calm and wildcat on.
However, not everything is sunlight and rainbows like in the picture. Right now we are in a fierce battle over her academic future. While her grades are great, she isn’t the most dedicated student. What she doesn’t understand is that I worry about her taking her good fortune for granted. She has her own version of the thousand yard stare, and a “Why can’t you be like other moms?” eyebrow raise. I want to go into Full Metal Jacket motto mom mode, but I take a deep breath and remember what we aren’t fighting about. I count my blessings. We don’t fight about body image, or make up, cyberbullying, relationships, drugs or alcohol.
Recently I went to an event at The Women’s Center of Jacksonville and was asked where my daughter was. “She has a golf tournament today,” I replied. “She golfs too?” my co-worker asked. “So she’s smart, kind, beautiful and a jock. She is changing my mind about not having kids.”
That’s the best version of “Happy Mother’s Day” I could ever ask for. I think there is one more badass woman in the making.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the service women, and female veterans reporting for duty.
Yolande Goodman is a Marine Corps veteran and served in the Charlie 2014 fellowship class with The Mission Continues. She serves in Jacksonville 1st Service Platoon.