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Survival tip for deployed moms on Mother's Day

U.S. Air Force Capt. Natassia Cherne, Air Forces Central Command, media operations chief, gives a kiss to her son, Gabriel Cherne, April 25, from an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. Cherne is on six month deployment and keeps in contact with her son and family through various technology such as Face Time or Skype. (Curiosity Photo)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Natassia Cherne, Air Forces Central Command media operations chief, gives a kiss to her son, Gabriel Cherne, April 25, 2013, from an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. Cherne is on a six-month deployment and keeps in contact with her son and family through various technology such as Face Time or Skype. (Courtesy photo)

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, Southwest Asia -- I told myself to be strong. I told myself that tears won't change the fact that I was leaving my son for six months.

Moments later, my husband pulled up to the airport for the final goodbye, but the Hoover dam couldn't hold back my tears or drown out the sound of my sobs.

My head told me to get it together, I was in uniform, but my heart was having none of it. How was I going to survive being away?

This is my second deployment, but my first as a mother. I love my husband, but the love for my child is nothing I have ever experienced. Thoughts of holding him in my arms for the first time, and hearing him laugh, swarm my mind every day.

I often hear, "at least you have Skype or Face Time," but I'm a selfish mommy. I want to hold my baby, kiss him and watch him sleep. When I would go away for two weeks, it felt like a lifetime; six months feels like eternity. And to think, I'm one of the lucky ones, it could have been a year away.

I dealt with leaving by taking time off work, enjoying every moment with him, and by eating a lot of chocolate, but once I got to my undisclosed location, chocolate couldn't turn my attitude around.

My second week deployed was my breaking point. I walked into my friend's office and totally broke down. She closed the door and tried to talk me down. We talked about how she was dealing with being away from her son, when she gave me some great advice.

She said that when she's home, she is a mom 100 percent of the time. There isn't a moment that goes by that she isn't getting her child ready for school or taking him to practice. What she doesn't get is time to herself. Time away is hard, but time away means a little more me time.

Here's my survival tip, you can't fight time or make it go quicker. All you can do is embrace the time you have for yourself.

Read that book you always get interrupted reading. Sleep into the middle of the afternoon on the weekend, because when you go home, let's be honest, it won't happen again. Go to the gym, try yoga, or treat yourself to pedicure or a massage. For once, enjoy the time you have for you, without feeling guilty about it or worrying about what the kids need.

There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think of my son. When I talk to him, every part of me aches to bring him close, hold him and show him how much I love him, but I can't pretend that my deployment isn't happening. Being in the military is a calling, one I'm proud to answer. Others may call embracing time away selfishness ... I just call it survival.

Happy Mother's Day to the all the mothers out there; especially, my deployed sisters in arms.