BAGHDAD (Army News Service, May 9, 2007) - "I'm going to explain to him that I was out defending our country, and taking care of my family and doing what's right," Spc. Jessica Bailey said.
To hear the young mother of one talk about her son, 2-year-old Caleb, her love for him is obvious. The unit supply specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, is currently serving at Forward Operating Base Falcon in southern Baghdad and will miss spending her second Mother's Day with Caleb.
While it is tough being away, she said she finds ways to keep in touch.
"I call him almost every day," she said. "I talk to him so he can at least hear my voice. He looks around for me when he's on the phone with me."
Even for those mothers who have been away from their children for long periods of time, it doesn't get any easier. Capt. Trisha Meyer, the personnel officer for the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div., answered her nation's call to serve in Korea for six months when her son, Crispin, was three months old.
Now, she is serving at FOB Falcon while Crispin, who is now two, waits with his sister, Savanna, who recently turned one, on Mom to come home.
"He kind of gets the whole 'Momma's across the ocean saving other little boys and girls,'" Capt. Meyer said. "He thinks it's cool."
As cool as it may seem, Capt. Meyer said she's looking forward to having time to bond with her son once she's done with her current tour in Iraq. Until then, video, e-mails and photos help her keep in touch with her children.
Spc. Bailey said she has her own ways to deal with being away from her son.
"On my off time, I think about him," she said. "I try to stay busy and keep my head up. I've found that the busier I stay, the easier it is."
Spc. Bailey said she recently purchased an Iraqi cell phone to better stay in touch with Caleb. At night, she sleeps with her son's hoodie to keep a little piece of him close by.
"It's the only thing of his I have out here," she said.
While Spc. Bailey and Capt. Meyer agree that it is tough being away from their children, both are optimistic about the future.
"Hopefully, by next year I'll be home. We'll have a bigger Mother's Day," Capt. Meyer said. "There'll be other Mother's Days."
"You can always make up for the time that you missed," Spc. Bailey added. "I love my son dearly, and I can't wait to go home and see him."