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A changed perspective: Children reflect on having military moms

Sgt. Shakyra S. Parrish and her son Michael, age 6, take a warm-up lap around the track Nov. 3 at Kadena Air Base. "I did (Marine Corps recruit training) for my son," said Parrish. "I had to stick it out because I left my son at home for this opportunity. He was my motivation ... I did it all for him."

ST. MARYS   Mothers in the military have responsibilities that are often difficult for younger children to comprehend.

When mom is deployed overseas or has a duty assignment on a major holiday, birthday or school performance, it can be disappointing.

But as children grow into adults, their perspective changes and they show greater appreciation of the sacrifices of their mothers and the bond they have established with them.

With Mother's Day on Sunday, Kayleigh Davis, 22, of St. Marys, reflected on her mother's military service and their mother-daughter relationship.

When she was in elementary school, teachers sent Kayleigh Davis to a school psychologist because she was upset that her parents, both in the Navy, were gone so much. The psychologist never asked about her mother being gone.

"She just assumed my dad's deployment upset me," she said. "I think a lot of people forget women are in the military and many of them have children."

A.J. Roman, a student at Georgia Southern University, said he experienced disappointments when his mother had duty that conflicted with a family event.

"When I was younger, I would wonder why my mom would rather be on a ship than go to my band concert," he said. "I think it's common as a military child to be upset that your parents had certain obligations that would take them away from you. It's only when you get older that you have a better understanding of what they have to do and try to be as supportive as you can."

His mother, Master Chief Kim Roman, serves as a legalman at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. She said it was very difficult balancing her responsibilities as a sailor and a mother.

"I've missed holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day, 4th of July, first days of schools, honor assemblies, dances, awards assemblies and banquets at school and such due to being deployed on a ship," she said. "I spent greater than six months deployed, as well as when I deployed to Iraq for eight months."

Roman said she thought it would be easier once her son got older.

"When I deployed to Iraq our oldest son was 12 years old, and he had a very difficult time with my departure," she said. "I learned that no matter the age, leaving is always difficult, and there are always things that will be missed."

Kayleigh's mother, Kelly Davis, served 12 years in the Navy before she left for health reasons. Davis said she realized it was difficult for her daughter having both parents serving in the military.

She said she always took the time to make sure traditional family events such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Mother's Day were memorable, even if it was celebrated early or late.

"I would explain to her it's just one day, and we can celebrate it anytime," Kelly Davis said. "That's how we celebrated when duty called."

Kelly Davis said when she had to work Christmas Day and her husband Scott was at sea, she would have a small celebration and a bigger one when everyone could be home at the same time.

"There were lots of times I worked Christmas or weekends," she said.

Kayleigh Davis said she didn't understand why her mother missed family events such as birthdays and other activities.

"When I was little, I didn't understand why she was gone so much," she said. "It upset me, but they would explain this is what they had to do."

Kelly Davis said the major hardship was finding suitable day care because of her rotating watch schedule. During summer vacation, she said she sent her daughter to stay with her grandparents so she would not have to be in day care.

Kim Roman said she has few regrets about being a Navy mom.

"What I have done, and the decision that I have made, were not only to benefit my family but all families in the United States," she said.

Her son, A.J. Roman, said he is proud of his mother and her service.

"The Navy has always been something consistent throughout my life," he said. "I can't really imagine what my life would be like without it. I know things can get tough being in it for so long, but I'm proud that my mom has stayed the course."

Kayleigh Davis, now 22, said she now understands her parents were as upset as she was about missing holidays.

"I realize they sacrificed so much," she said. "My mother was here every step of the way. If I'm half the mother she is, I'll be happy."

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