Most military spouse books are helpful guides written to other military spouses. ‘Be Safe, Love Mom‘ is unique because it is a book written for military moms. The author, Elaine Lowry Brye, has experienced quite a few sides of military life: she was an Army ‘brat’ during the Vietnam War, joined ROTC as an adult, married a military man, and… here’s the kicker… has four children who have ALL become military officers, each in a different branch! As if that weren’t enough experience, Brye also worked in Afghanistan as a school teacher for almost a year. And completed the Marine Corps Marathon when her son was accepted into the Naval Academy. Oh yeah, and she also attended a White House State dinner, and introduced Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention. So this is a lady who knows a thing or two about the challenges of military deployments and training!
The ‘Be Safe, Love Mom’ is for military moms AND spouses
What I loved about the book ‘Be Safe, Love Mom’ is that it is written to military moms, yet the advice is just as relevant to military girlfriends and spouses. Brye discusses the pain of letting go and saying goodbye, the anxiety of never knowing what is happening during deployment, and the pride of knowing your loved one is fulfilling their destiny. I am not a military mom, just a military spouse, but I can relate to every one of those emotions.A #milspouse can relate to so many military Mom moments in the book 'Be Safe, Love Mom.' Click To Tweet
Brye writes about the need for military families to embrace being “Semper Gumby,” meaning “always flexible. That means celebrating holidays around deployments. Military spouses would agree with her that “Christmas at the county fair in August makes perfect sense.”
The author also knows–all too well–the struggle to hold in your emotions and keep everything together during deployments. She describes the pain of breaking into tears at the grocery store when a friend asked how she was doing. Civilian friends can be a great blessing to any military family, but it is hard for civilian to understand the details and the challenges of military life. So Brye writes, “don’t thank me for my children service, ask me how they are doing. Ask me how I am doing. And if I start to cry, hug me.”
According to Brye, the military community is the biggest family in the world. She cites numerous example of military members reaching out to help strangers, simply because they are also veterans or new to military life. Brye described the sisterhood of military spouses using an image from her ROTC training. The author struggled with the physical exam in ROTC. For her final qualification test “the men in my flight closed in around me in a V formation. No one is allowed to touch you as you run, but they got as close as they could, and they started to scream at me… I finished with 5 seconds to spare! When I just want to give up, that’s when I need my V of fellow military mom’s to circle in around me, and say, ‘C’mon, you’ve got this, we can do this.'” Isn’t that wonderful image of the way military spouses can lean on each other for support and encouragement?
I loved another image that every military spouse can understand: Brye compares the stress and anxiety of military life to shouldering a heavy backpack. Military spouses and family members may not even realize the tremendous weight they carry around. We need to find ways to lighten our loads, while also lightening the loads of other military families. For Brye, that means doing lots of knitting, and reaching out to other military moms through the Navy listserv. She quotes many other military moms with a variety of helpful advice. Some give up watching the news during deployments. Others stay busy with craft projects. Some nourish their souls with prayer at church, while others escape to the peacefulness of nature. But everyone develops their own coping mechanism.The 'Be Safe, Love Mom' book is filled with deployment coping mechanisms. Click To Tweet
One unique element of the book, ‘Be Safe, Love Mom,’ is that the author spent almost a year living and teaching in Afghanistan. She was not in combat, (she was in a school compound), but the experience taught her much about Afghanistan’s culture. Because of her experience, she also learned some important lessons about military deployments: #1 you don’t have to worry all the time, and #2 deployment is boring and lonely. What a relief that I don’t have to travel to Afghanistan to gain this perspective!
The ‘Be Safe, Love Mom’ Book will help you understand your mother-in-law
I also loved how the book’s mom perspective gave me insight to what my Mother-in-law and my own mother (both military moms) go through. Brye discusses the pain of letting go of your son or daughter, and constantly worrying about the tough nature of military life, while simultaneously trying to respect your child’s new spouse or children. “The military will issue you everything you need. Mothers are not an issued item.” How many military spouses have heard this before too? Her chapter about care packages reminded me that military moms struggle to connect with their children during deployments, too. Spouses send letters, care packages, and other forms of love in the mail. Military mothers might not know anything about decorating a themed care package, but they still know how to cheer up their deployed child and send them exactly what they need! They can even coordinate community efforts to send large quantities of care packages to deployed troops. Finally, Brye had some words of wisdom about watching someone you love join the military. She shares the story of many different military families, and reveals that everyone joins the military for different reasons. A military life can be hard to accept, but Brye explains “we never want our loved ones in the line of fire, but we do want them to be all that they can be. Even though there are times I want to wrap my arms around my kids’ legs and drag them back into the house, I hold myself back. I love my children too much to interfere with their destinies.”
Having a loved one in the military means that your life will be filled with challenges and stress that other people can not understand. But it also means that you become part of an amazing military family. Brye’s optimism and enthusiasm makes the load of military life more bearable, not only for military moms, but for military spouses, too. I recommend this book for anyone new to military life. Even if you have faced a few deployments, you will benefit from the ideas of the hundreds of military families interviewed in the book. Want to get a copy for yourself? And your Mother-in-law? You can find them in Barnes and Noble stores, or order one here. Well written and encouraging! Thank you, Elaine Brye, my new favorite mama grizzly bear!