Dad fills role of mom during her Navy deployment
The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.
JACKSONVILLE, NC — Pat Ashton will enjoy being honored as a dad today — he’ll also continue filling the void as “mom” during his wife’s absence due to a military deployment.
Ashton, a retired Navy chief petty officer, has been the sole caretaker of his house, two kids and six dogs for the past month. His wife, Lt. Cmdr. Anne Ashton, is a Navy nurse currently deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“He’s a really good dad,” Rebecca Ashton, 15, said with a chuckle about her father. “But he’s not the best mom.”
Pat said he thinks he lacks the calming, nurturing and loving emotional attachment to his kids that his wife has. He said he tries his best to fill the role of “mom” but sometimes falls short.
“It’s very different for my kids when she’s gone,” Pat said. “I tend to run things like I did in the military, because that’s just what I know.”
The Ashton’s own a martial arts academy called Tiger Rock TaeKwonDo; a business that Pat and his wife usually run together, but for the time being, Pat is running the academy and their household alone.
Although this is Anne Ashton’s fifth career deployment, Pat said the family never really gets used to having her gone.
“It’s like walking around with a broken leg,” he said. “You can walk, but it doesn’t feel good. And you know it will get better, but at the time, it feels awful.”
Pat Ashton said the kids have been helping out around the house as much as they can since their mom’s been gone; Rebecca cooks dinner every night and their son, Brian Ashton, 18, helps. They split household chores and take care of the six family dogs.
“I’m always on them,” Pat Ashton said. “But it’s only because I care. I love them.”
“We love him, too,” the Ashton kids said in unison. “But we still miss our mom.”
The Ashton family hasn’t yet decided how they’ll welcome back Anne Ashton when she comes home later this year, but they said they’re all looking forward to the day she comes home.