Military wife Michelle Palmer has two young kids. When her husband is away, she tries to make sure that they aren’t missing their father too much by keeping them busy with fun activities. She also knows enough to take care of herself as well. (Submitted photo)

Petawawa Home Fires

By: Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday, August 17, 2017

Michelle Palmer has been a military wife for seven years.

It can be hard, when her husband is away, to cope with the challenges of raising two small children. She considers herself lucky to have family nearby in the Peterborough area that she can lean on for support.

There are moments, however, that his absence is still very difficult to deal with even with support. Sometimes the kids, 2 and 3, get tired and become inconsolable. Though she knows that it is the nature of the beast, she has her tricks.

“I try to make it fun so that they almost look forward to having daddy being away,” said Palmer. “We do a lot of stuff that we wouldn’t normally do when he is not around.”

She doesn’t give them an end date either, just in case her husband’s return is pushed back.

“They don’t have a concept of time anyway,” said Palmer.

There are countless activity suggestions on social media sites such as Pinterest and the Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre (PMFRC) has their own list of resources for deployment support as well as fun activities.

For herself, she consoles herself with the knowledge that she can watch what she wants and admits to regularly “Netflix cheating on him,” watching a beloved series without her viewing partner. She also enjoys the chance to ‘starfish’ and takes over the entire bed without knocking into her husband.

It is the little things that one must savour when one’s partner is deployed, training or on exercise. But it hasn’t always been the case for her. Taking care of herself is just something that she is starting to learn to do.

“I find that it’s something not a lot of people know how to do, especially moms,” said Palmer.

What she does now is get out of her comfort zone and sign up for activities that interest her such as trivia nights, game nights and volunteering.

“I’m actually learning that kids are o.k. with the babysitter and it is o.k. to take a night for me,” she added.

“I’m actually finding myself a better mom when I have time away from them,” she said.

For other spouses, she recommends that they figure out what works for them in order to build resilience, whether that is dedicating themselves to the care of their children, plunging themselves into work or schoolwork, finding new fun hobbies or looking at local organizations for helpful resources.