ATLANTIC OCEAN —
It’s a new day as the alarm clock goes off.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Shatia Carroll flings the covers off and begins her morning routine. She gets dressed before she dresses her son, but they brush their teeth together.
After getting her son breakfast, she drives him to preschool and makes her way to work. She arrives at the ship by 7:15 a.m.
Carroll, from Jackson, Tennessee, is a single mother to her 3-year-old son, Jayden. She’s also a culinary specialist assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, home-ported at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.
Since returning from a seven-month deployment, the ship has sustained a busy underway schedule, forcing Carroll to leave her son with her sister and mother while she is gone.
Military Service, Motherhood
“The hardest part is being away from my son, because he changes every day,” Carroll said. “Before I left for deployment, he was saying a couple words. And then I came back home, and he was saying whole sentences.”
These changes don’t slow down as kids get older. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Megan Miller, a mother of three who hails from Oakland, Illinois, recalled striking memories of her children at a younger age.
“I just watched my oldest, Marcus, drive around the cul-de-sac in the car and I came to this thought of him doing it on his bike in the same exact cul-de-sac and just how fast time flies by,” Miller said.
Being a mother in the Navy is undeniably difficult, but it is also rewarding, particularly when mothers are able to get their kids involved in their job.
“They enjoy coming to the ship and seeing all the boats at anchor and everything in the fo’c’sle,” Miller said. “They like hearing my stories about being underway and some of the stuff we have done, so they definitely think it is pretty cool.”
Support From Home, Work
Support from home is paramount to being a successful parent while in the military, but being a successful sailor while raising children also requires support from work.
“You have to be open and communicate with your chain of command if you have issues,” Miller said.
With the right mentality and the right team, being a sailor and a mom is far from impossible.
“Stay encouraged and keep a positive mindset because it’s easy to become stressed having to be away from your child,” Carroll said. “As long as you have support from your friends and family you can still be a mother in the Navy.”
Carroll and Miller are counting down the minutes until they are with their children again.
“I will call him and he will say, ‘Mommy, when are you coming to pick me up?’” Carroll said. “And, I’ll say, ‘As soon as I get back home — as soon as we pull in — I am coming to get you.’”