Michelle Obama’s Sept. 3 event at the College of Santa Fe was billed as a “roundtable” for military families. Campaign staffers distributed pamphlets outlining the Democrats’ platform for improving support for families. Military spouses delivered tear-jerking testimonies while the potential first lady nodded with sympathy.
But one Albuquerque-based wife of an active duty Naval reservist left the event feeling more marginalized. “Being a military spouse is very real to me, it is my story, and yet it was lost on many of the people sitting around me, who were really just there to get her autograph,” the woman writes on her blog, Lopsidedmom.blogspot.com. “I did not like feeling like a political pawn and I am a little angry with myself that I fell for it.”
And with that, LopsidedMom decided to go public with the personal electronic journal she started in October 2007, when her husband left for military training in California. He was deployed to Iraq in February. LopsidedMom asked to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of her children and her husband, who is due back from service next month.
She began the blog to keep in contact with her husband, but now hopes it will “help people understand what it is like for a military family to go through a deployment.”
LopsidedMom’s blog weaves between politics and parenting. The name originates from breastfeeding-related mastitis that left her chest lopsided. But talking about physical insecurities isn’t as hard as sharing the stress of being a “semi-single” mom during wartime.
“I went to Michelle’s event to look for support and find people in my similar situation,” LopsidedMom tells SFR. “The few people I talked to had zero connection to the issue today. I’ve met one other spouse here in Albuquerque who’s affected by this deployment…so really, I have nobody.”
LopsidedMom says military families’ hardships have been ignored in the election. She also voices criticism of GOP vice presidential candidate Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, whose son is scheduled for deployment to Iraq this week.
“Most military feel it is inappropriate for Sarah Palin to be speaking so openly about her son’s deployment,” LopsidedMom writes on SFR’s election blog SwingStateofMind.com.
“Operational security is priority number one and announcing his unit and deployment date to the world is a) stupid and b) dishonest. I have never gotten a straight date regarding my husband’s travel dates, particularly in and out of Iraq.”
Rather than receive support, the first-ever comment on LopsidedMom’s blog was from a Republican-leaning military spouse who blasted her for “whining.”
“Is there a draft I don’t know about?” the commentator posted under the handle proudwoman. “My husband volunteered to support and serve his country…why did yours go?…”
Proudwoman’s criticism highlights the stigma military families face when seeking help, LopsidedMom says.
“It’s very easy to cut off the conversation by saying, ‘It’s an all-volunteer military,’” she says.
LopsidedMom admits hers is not the usual experience of military spouses. Her husband is a reservist and will only have to complete one deployment to Iraq, versus two or three. Yet this is partly why she has been searching for support.
“Not feeling like I fit into either the military world or the civilian world: That’s really what the blog is about, because that’s been the hardest part,” she says.