Samantha Liles
Area Partner Wright-Patterson AFB

You are in the thick of parenthood right now: the sleepless nights, the days without

showers, and probably looking in the mirror and thinking how you have changed. It doesn’t matter whether you are thinking about your mental well being or your physical well being, these concerns are always apparent. I remember these nights like they were yesterday. My [now] four-year-old honestly never slept, and still wakes up in the middle of the night to ensure that he is safe, and I am there. I have worked with many parents over the past few years in many different capacities; Military Key Spouse, Birth Doula, and Military Lactation Counselor are just a few of the roles. In each role I have noticed that while new parents desire a support system, they counterintuitively attempt to rely on their own independence.

I am a “veteran” mom. I have a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old. Many call me this because the belief is that I am no longer in the thick of it. I have passed the fourth trimester/ postpartum period, but my heart is still very much there. I see you cradling your baby in the Starbucks line or at the BX. I see the tiredness and the loneliness etched on your face. I am here to tell you that while you can physically do all of the work by yourself, you should not have to. I am here to remind you that your well-being is important too.

When I look back at my own postpartum days and how I handled everything independently, I am sad for that “me”. I remember feeling so much weight. The weight of parenting the “right way”. The weight of cooking dinner every night, and of deployments and separations. The joke around our household was how long it had been for me since my last shower. But, honestly, if you think about it, that joke is sad. I was so consumed with diapers, feedings, sleepless nights, and colic that I forgot to shower. I would fill my cup of coffee and forget about it. It would go in and out of the microwave more than a whack-o-mole. By the time I finally consumed it, it was burnt.


This isn’t just my experience; from the stories I hear… it’s our experience. The postpartum period is one of the most important times that receive the least amount of focus. I know for myself, I spent so much of my time planning for the birth, that I forgot to plan for the afterwards. I wasn’t prepared for the change. It is a tremendous change… Take the time to plan for your postpartum journey too. Find a support system and reach out for help ahead of time. Make meals to freeze. Talk with your spouse about expectations. I wish I would have done all of these things because it would have allowed space in my mind to think of my needs.

You can do it all, but you shouldn’t have to. You are worth so much, Momma. Take the time to shower. Eat your meal while it is still warm. Give your baby to someone you trust and spend an hour focusing on you. We must take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. People usually say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and that is the truth. It took me too long to remember this lesson and once I did, it was like coming up for air. Don’t wait years, like I did. I had to introduce myself to who I became instead of learning as I went. Allow space in your priority list for you.

You are important. You are worthy of time. You are a Mother, but You are also You.

You can contact Samantha at sliles@militarymommies.com