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Military moms balance family, service

Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Brennan, 412th Logistics Test Squadron F-22 Raptor logistics test and evaluation noncommissioned officer in charge, poses with her daughter, Raine, 5. (Courtesy photo)

Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Brennan, 412th Logistics Test Squadron F-22 Raptor logistics test and evaluation noncommissioned officer in charge, poses with her daughter, Raine, 5. (Courtesy photo)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Each year, the second Sunday of May is reserved for showering moms with gifts, flowers, chocolates and taking her out to a dinner to make her feel appreciated. 

For the Brennan household, this year's Mother's Day celebration is going to be postponed to the weekend after. That special person, for whom the day was devoted to, will be gone. 

Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Brennan, 412th Logistics Test Squadron F-22 Raptor logistics test and evaluation noncommissioned officer in charge, is going to Utah. It is part of her job -- being a military mom. 

"Because we don't punch a clock," Sergeant Brennan explained. "When we're told that we need to be in at 6 o'clock (in the morning) to do physical training even if that means dropping your kids early, you have to." 

Servicemembers are on call 24/7. Though most of them work eight-hour shifts, they could still receive calls before and after as part of taking that oath for military duty. Sometimes, they even get calls during weekends. 

"I've been called in at 2 (a.m.), but you just go with it because it is part of our mission," Sergeant Brennan said. 

As a 412th Maintenance Squadron Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory journeyman, Senior Airman Sasha Dollison's mission is to repair, calibrate and modify test, measurement and diagnostic equipment. She works mostly with torque wrenches, gauges, oxygen and "test equipment that go to the flightline." 

"You have to have a knack for it," Airman Dollison said. She may as well be talking about motherhood. As a single mom, she takes care of Sasha, 9, and Dwayne, 6, all by herself.
 
"It could be challenging at times," she said. "You have to be very organized. You have to have patience, and it could be stressful sometimes." 

Balancing military life with motherhood takes planning and organizing, which both Airman Dollison and Sergeant Brennan agreed. 

"I carry my planner," the sergeant said. "I try to keep everything balanced. If you can prioritize everything, it's busy but it can be done. Admitting that nothing is perfect and nothing will ever be perfect makes it a lot better because you can't get everything done." 

But for Airman Dollison who, aside from being a mom and a servicemember, is also a student, she said it boils down to setting realistic goals. 

"When I first started going back to school, I didn't really set one," she said. "It started to affect my health so instead of taking three classes, I cut it down to two." 

Add to that the necessary deployments and temporary-duty assignments. Sergeant Brennan had experienced being away from home for a year for an unaccompanied tour in South Korea. 

However, help is essential in being a military mom. For Sergeant Brennan, her husband is her support system in raising Selena, 7, Raine, 5, and Rhys, 3. He picks up a lot to help Sergeant Brennan when she is TDY or working late hours. Sometimes her in-laws also help. 

Though Airman Dollison is single, she receives help from her coworkers at the PMEL shop as well as her parents. 

"I have been blessed to be working around very helpful and caring people, especially in this shop," she said. "They always ask about not only my welfare, but my children's as well. I think as a single mom in the military if you are working around good supervisors and colleagues, then you should be fine." 

Airman Dollison's day-to-day routine include waking up at 4:30 a.m. to go to the gym and then coming home to get her children ready for school. From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., she is at work. After work, she picks up her kids, prepares dinner, helps her children with their homework as well as her own and reads stories to her kids until they fall sleep. Before she goes to bed, she prepares for work then reads a book. 

But having fun is also part of being a mom. On weekends, the Brennan family spends their time playing, hanging out and on day trips to the zoo or parks. 

"I love being a mom," Sergeant Brennan said. "It never gets boring. There is always something new going on."