Thanks to our three daughters, my husband and I feel like we live in a pink world: a world filled with the musings of a certain British-accented porcine princess, fairies, ponies, and the like. While I enjoy existing in a strawberry frosted doughnut universe, I know it won’t last forever. The Disney princess costumes will be replaced with clothes more resembling mine, cartoons with adult-themes, and my little loves will grow into the independent, strong women I’m striving to mold. They will undoubtedly explore other interests, some of which will be deemed “masculine” by society, including the opportunity for a military career.
If we as mothers and fathers believe our daughters should receive the same opportunities as their male peers, that means we must support their choice to serve.
It seems way easier said than done. I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t worry, or feel a natural inclination to protect and shield her from a military career. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but it’s also the world we live in.
In the United States, the very concept of women in the military is a fairly recent one, with women officially joining the ranks in the 1970s. According to CNN, in 2011, 203,000 women were represented in American military branches. This was 14.2 percent of the total force. That’s a major force to be reckoned with. That’s a lot of mothers and fathers who had to cope with their daughters’ significant choice to serve.
While I fear for my daughters exposing themselves to a lifestyle that could be potentially dangerous, I also fear that they would feel the dull pang of someone who looks back with regret. I would not want to be responsible for stifling their dreams just to satisfy my own wish. I had aspirations to join the Navy after graduating college, but it didn’t happen because other life choices prevailed. While I love my life raising these three girls and being a wife to my sailor, sometimes I feel like I could have pursued the military before having a family.
Baby girl, you can do anything. And when it comes down to the tough decisions, I stand behind you wholeheartedly — and not just in the kind of support that people promise and don’t see through, I mean the real kind. I will proudly wave my flag (literally and figuratively) for you and know that you are living out your ideal, beautiful life. And what a beautiful thing that will be.