Mother's Day is everyday

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joanna M. Kresge
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Many Airmen may not realize the work that goes on behind the scenes at home while they are working to defend the country. They may not notice the countless hours of cleaning, the numerous boo-boo kisses, the frequent late nights spent comforting sick children and the selfless service of their stay-at-home spouse.

Maj. William Free, Eighth Air Force B-2 evaluator knows all too well the significance of what his wife, Hilary, does on a daily basis. That is why Mother's Day is especially important to him and his family.

"In the military, we have multiple opportunities throughout our careers to be recognized for various reasons," he said. "Without the support of our spouses, many of those opportunities would not be possible. I am so grateful for what my wife does for our family, managing our home and teaching our children, and I think it's important for her to know that her efforts have not gone unnoticed by me."

Mrs. Free, a teacher by trade, stays home with their children; Will, 5, Ashlin, 4, and Presley, 1 and home schools them.

"It seemed like we never got to spend time together, so when we moved here from our last base, we decided we were going to make time as a family," Mrs. Free said. "We wanted to serve as a family together through our ministry and wanted the core of our family to be stronger. We have chosen to home school, which is challenging some days, but the children seem to really enjoy it. They love being at home, and I love having them all together during the day."

Mrs. Free considers herself lucky that her husband has never been gone for any extended period of time; however in late 2007, her husband deployed for nearly five months to Andersen Air Base, Guam.

"It is hard as a mom when you are home alone with the kids all the time, but it's bearable," she said. "I really can't complain about his deployment. We definitely missed him, but I had help, I stayed with my parents for two months and his parents for two months, so I wasn't home by myself. We were able to communicate and we knew he wasn't in harm's way, thank God."

Since the Frees arrived at Barksdale, Major Free has continued to make frequent trips as part of temporary duty assignments to stay current with his flying hours. During these times, Mrs. Free finds herself home with three children and no husband to lend a helping hand. This can even make trips to the grocery store a challenging task; however, Mrs. Free has a solution for just about every household task.

"When we go to the grocery store, I give them tasks so they can help me put the fruit and vegetables in the basket," she said. "The more I involve them the better. If we go to one of the stores that have the small shopping carts for kids, they really feel like they aren't just there to hang on to mom. Giving them a purpose and making them feel important helps their behavior, gives them sense of responsibility, and they really enjoy it because I try to make it fun.

"I also involve them in cooking and cleaning, which helps the entire household and relieves the burden of doing everything myself. It doesn't matter if they make a mess while they are doing the dishes or sweeping up, it gives them the opportunity to learn at some point that we can't do everything for them."

Many stay-at-home mothers may find that their job at home consumes most of their time, however Mrs. Free still finds the time and energy to not only host a weekly bible study dinner in her home, but help with a community project.

"This has been a beautiful thing for our family - to be able to serve together, and for our kids to see that it's not always about them. It's about helping other people - they are grasping that at such a young age."

Major Free, in appreciation for the work his wife does, takes every available opportunity to give her a break from her motherly duties.

"Throughout the day, Hilary, like most stay-at-home moms, has very little time for herself," he said. "The needs of our children are always first, and she maintains a great deal of patience balancing their needs with her own. I offer to take the kids on what we call 'adventures' so that Hilary can have time to herself."

Mother's Day prompted, Mrs. Free to look back on what it means to her to be a mother.

"As I reflect on my time as a mother, I laugh at the many mistakes I have made," she said with a smile. "I look at our children and see how they have grown and I thank God for his continued strength, grace and mercy. Motherhood has been the most challenging experience of my life, but by far the most rewarding."

This Mother's Day, Major Free and the children expressed to Mrs. Free just how much she means to them.

"As a family we ask each other in the evenings what we are thankful for, and for this Mother's Day we shared with her what we are most thankful for about her," Major Free said. "There is not enough that I can do for her on Mother's Day to let her know how much she is appreciated for what she means to me as a wife and a mother to our children. It is important for me and our kids to make this day special for her and to acknowledge all she has done by allowing her the opportunity to be served, encouraged and appreciated."