In the last two days, I’ve had two people say that I expect other people to raise my kids for me because I’m in the military. Those words hurt and they offended me deeply.

But they are also somewhat true, to an extent. In my family, as many families with both parents working, there is no one to pick up the slack. One family member commented on how wrong I was to say that my kids stressed me out and stressed out my husband. But said family member has never had to deploy away from his kids for a year and then come home and actually stick around for the rebuilding process.

Yesterday also marked the 6 month mark since my husband and I came home from Iraq. Maybe it was fitting that these comments were made. Maybe they were the harsh truth that I was supposed to hear.

I’m a military mom and like all military moms, whether single, divorced, married to another service member or married to a civilian, I need help. I have my best friend here who can pick up the kids if there’s an issue and she knows she can count on me. What life would she have if she were not in the military, working to give her kids a better life? What life would I have if I wasn’t here, working to give my kids a better life than I had. I don’t want someone else to raise my kids, but I do need help, just like every working mom needs help.

There are milestones I’ve missed and moments I will never get back. But the thing that I got back today was a sense of enjoyment of my kids when I watched my kindergartener walk across the stage and graduate. Now it was only a kindergarten graduation but regardless of what you making a big deal out of every milestone, this was a big deal for my husband and I. We sat and watched out little girl who we’ve seen grow up via webcam sing on the stage and wave shyly at us from the crowd.

Today was a big deal because we struggled through a rough 6 months, learning to be a family again. And today marked a huge milestone because we were there for her finish kindergarten, even if we weren’t there for her first day of school.

There have been days over the last few months where I wished I didn’t have housework and dishes and crying kids to deal with. There were days when I could honestly admit that my kids caused me more stress than pleasure.

But today, when I hugged my little girl and felt the pride in her that she struggled through to be reading above her grade level, that she struggled through making new friends in a big school with new teachers to actually enjoy going to school every day, today, everything was ok.

Today, we were a family and we were together for a milestone.