News: Mother’s Day away in the desert
Story by Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait—Soldiers are deployed all around the world operating in several capacities. Time spent away from their loved ones can often take a toll on their morale, but many find ways to continue to celebrate holidays and make their love ones feel special no matter what the distance of separation.
Mother’s Day is a time to show gratitude for the love and important role mothers play in their children lives. Sgt. 1st Class Sheroda Mclendon, a financial management specialist assigned to U.S. Army Central’s Budget Office, is a 17-year veteran, who is now serving on her third deployment. She explained some of the challenges of having children and missing important times in their life because of missions.
“I talk to my kids on a weekly basis, I try not to interrupt as much of their lives as possible because they’re already missing me,” said Mclendon. “We typically talk about how they’re doing in school and discuss the extra circular activities they participate in.”
Mclendon has two children; her son Omar, 13 and her daughter Mya, 10. Despite being a single mother she has continued to excel in her career and plans to obtain the rank of command sergeant major before retiring from the Army.
“I do so well because I have support, and support is number one when you’re a single parent,” said Mclendon. “My mom and my military family help me out. When things need to be done at work on short notice I have my military family to help me take care of my kids, for long term, I can fall back on my mother and my brother.”
“Being in the Army there is always someone you can reach out to,” she continued. “I have two mentors that I hold true to my heart. Those two give me information that I need as well as other senior noncommissioned officers that have helped me along the way.”
Mclendon, a native of Macon, Ga., is very close to her family and most importantly her children. Although she is limited in her communications, due to being so far away, her family still made time to enjoy cake with her during her recent birthday.
“I celebrated my birthday on April 9, my kids sang happy birthday to me. They also made a cake in my honor which I didn’t get to eat,” said Mclendon as she chuckled.
Mclendon expressed that her children are her biggest supporters but even though her kids miss her they are not always excited to talk to her because they are busy with other things.
“Kids have their own way of showing their feelings. My daughter and son make little trinkets. My daughter made me a ribbon that says number one hero before I deployed,” said Mclendon.
Over the span of her career, Mclendon has faced adversity but managed to remain resilient and continues to work hard and look towards the future.
“I’m all that they have and me working hard lets them know that, working hard is a part of them being successful.”
This Mother’s Day she plans on talking to her kids and enjoying whatever cards or songs they prepare for her special day.
For Spc. Korina Garcia, a human resources specialist assigned to U.S. Army Central, she is currently serving on her first deployment and is making the most of her time while her coping with not being with her daughter Mallerie age 4.
“I work a lot and I stay in the gym, “said Garcia. “Staying active is what keeps me busy when times get tough.”
Garcia talks to her daughter during the week through Skype and even though her daughter’s attention span isn’t that long she finds unique ways to keep Mallerie’s attention for the moment.
“We have a coloring session where she colors a pretty picture and will show it to me once she’s done. Then we talk about the colors, flowers or anything that’s on there, and that will keep her engaged for about ten minutes until she’s ready to go play.”
She received her Mother’s Day gift, a personalized photo album with her daughter’s painted hand print, a month early because her family wanted to make sure that she received it on time. Garcia explained that her daughter has an interesting way of knowing that she is away for work.
“Every time she sees an airplane she says that mommy’s away working, because the last memory of me she has is of me flying away.”
Garcia may not get to enjoy her ideal Mother’s Day of spending time with her daughter this year but she plans on making the best of it while being deployed. She accepts the challenge of being away from her daughter and feels that it’s well worth it.
“She’s my world, being away from her is a sacrifice, but it allows me to give her everything that I know she deserves,” said Garcia.