Friday, September 7, 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship with the USMC (pt1)

There are days I love the Marine Corps, and there are days that I hate it.
In the past 2 years, the days that I hate it outnumber it exponentially to the days that I love it.
Looking back on my last 10 years as a Marine, I realize that all the great memories that I've ever had came from working in a positive environment with Marines that I genuinely cared about, and Marines that genuinely cared about me.
I used to love coming to work and the smile on my face was about as genuine as it got. 
I had amazing leadership and hard-charging coworkers that I loved like my own family.
I guess the point is, I don't hate the Marine Corps necessarily.
I just hate dislike my working environment.
I've always been told since I was a young Private that I would work with leaders that I would be willing to do ANYTHING for at the drop of a dime, but I would also work with leaders that I would probably rather wish they would die. (this sounds harsh and "unchristian like"I know, but it's a figure of speech...maybe ;)
I also never realized how "unmother-friendly" the Marine Corps would be.
The Marine Corps in the past few years has really revamped their family readiness program for military families, and while there are still some headaches and complaints, it's two-folds better than what it used to be (or so I'm told).
However, when it comes to mothers or single parents in the Marine Corps, the organization has a long way to go.
I realized when I was on recruiting duty how challenging it was going to be to balance being a mother, a wife, and a Marine.
My first year, Nick and I were newlyweds, and both of us thrived on work, and we were both really good at our respective jobs.
I was showered with awards, given compliments all the time, and praised all the time for my diligent efforts on recruiting duty.
I loved it.
I also worked in an environment that I LOVED.
The Marines that I worked with were a team, and we had each others backs at a moment's notice.

Then I got pregnant.
Out of the blue.
Totally unplanned.

I actually cried bawled my eyes out the day I broke the news to my team (the other recruiters in my office).
I wasn't ready to be a mother, and I wasn't ready to sacrifice work to be pregnant and be a mother.
This was just horrible, awful timing, but it was the cards I was dealt, and I had to figure it out.
I managed to work 40-80 hours a week throughout my entire pregnancy until the day I gave birth (a feat that I proudly boast about since I had the option to go to half day work days in the 3rd trimester).
Imagine going to high school, expecting to see this fit and trim U.S. Marine looking sharp in his blues at the recruiting table.
The high schools I was assigned got a fat, miserable Marine in a hideous maternity uniform.
They expected me to convince 17-28 year olds to join the Marine Corps cause we were the best. 
It's really hard to be positive and upbeat about the Corps while being fat, miserable, and in a hideous uniform, but somehow I managed. 
In fact, that year, with a TON of help from the other recruiters (who did a lot of my driving for me when I got reallllyyyy big), I won Rookie Recruiter of the Year.
However, my struggles had just started.
Here I was as a new mom with expectations from my command that were ridiculously high.
The motto on recruiting duty (amongst many others) is "With success comes even higher expectations".
To add to my struggle, when D was only 6 months old, Nick deployed to Afghanistan.
I had horrible post partum depression, and I didn't find out I had it until later on.
The stress of having my husband in combat for 7 months with little communication, the pressure to find "X" amount of potential applicants every month, post partum depression, and being a new mother was overwhelming.
I went from being the superstar recruiter to barely hanging on for the sake of my sanity and my child.
A lot of the burden was put on my coworkers (which they did without complaint), but deep in my heart, it hurt that I couldn't contribute to the team like I was used to.
Needless to say, the last 2 years of recruiting duty were nothing but an uphill struggle for me.


  1. Your last post broke my heart! Yall are so strong! And this is definitely an interesting and important post. It is so important that our military provides support for working and single moms as much as the stay at homes. I have an Army friend who complains constantly that she would love to get involved, but all FRG meetings take place at 3pm on a Tuesday and she works, so that isn't an option, therefore she feels left out. It is an issue for sure. On the positive side, I am sure that during those months of pregnant recuiting, you showed some young ladies out there that they can have a career and family, which is an essential message as well. Hope things get easier for yall soon though!

  2. I love reading your blog because I don't get to hear from female Marines a lot, especially not mothers! Such a challenge; I can only imagine.

  3. Sounds like a really hard time. I have heard that recruiting is really hard/stressful just in general.


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