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And for once I was SuperMom

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Women in Combat


“Shoot, I forgot something,” I turned on my heel and jogged up the last flight of stairs, Carys was tucked securely in the pack on my back.  All twenty pounds of her.  It occurred to me as I achieved this physical feat of parenthood that this is something that soldiers do all the time.
            I read an article recently discussing whether or not women should be allowed in combat.  I had thought that debate was over, but I guess in some situations women are still not allowed on the front lines.  I suppose there is still discussion as to whether or not women are capable of handling the rigors of combat, I thought about this for the rest of the day. 
            I have heard that in training Navy Seals are deprived of sleep and made to listen to tapes of infants crying, because that is the most stressful sound that a human can hear.  Does this sound familiar?  Apparently elite military training is the same as parenting a newborn.  Then I thought to myself, ‘why would you induce that? Just send them to babysit for me.’
            One thing that soldiers must do is carrying large burdens far.  Have you ever carried a thirty pound car seat across a parking lot and up several flights of stairs?  Because I do.  Then there is the Ergobaby, the device that straps your child to your back, emulating that pack that I am sure soldiers carry. 
Another point to the debate is that women cannot handle the physical rigors of soldiering.  After Carys was born I was complaining that my bottom was no longer in the same shape that it had been before, in the typical male fashion of trying to fix my problems rather than just sympathize, my husband suggested that I do more squats.  What does he think I do with that baby on my hip or on my back?  Squat to pick up things they drop, toys they have spread across the room, etc.  I should’ve just punched him in the neck.
Bringing us to violence; I have also heard people debate whether or not women are fierce and violent enough to take on combat.  I want to find the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba, and I want them awake and alive so I can make them feel the pain that they have caused me. 
Logistical planning is another skill that is required of men in the field.  Every time I go to a store I have to strategically plan where to park, (close to the carts) and how to get everyone in and out of the car in a manner that leaves no child unattended and no baggage unattended.  I remember the first time I pulled into the parking lot of a particular craft store after having my second child.  This store has notoriously small carts, and those carts are never in the parking lot where you can get them, I sat for a moment with my hands on the wheel and under my breathe hissed,
            “How are we going to do this?”  I heard from the backseat,
            “We’re stopped,” I hear Emma whisper, equally as quiet.  After I recovered from a giggle fit I solved the task and got everyone in the store and out of the store without crying. 
            I imagine that often soldiers find themselves having to function and make decisions when they are in a compromised physical state.  Say in pain from injury or fatigued from lack of sleep (maybe that is why they call them fatigues), or with lots of distractions and noise around them.  I feel like that sounds familiar….pain from perhaps birthing a child or having a c-section.  Lack of sleep from the baby that wakes you up every up every two hours or the preschooler who has night terrors.  Perhaps trying to make a decision in Target with a crying baby and a toddler who keeps asking for toys. 
            I suppose before women get discounted and it is assumed that we can't do something you might look at what we do on a daily basis.  
            I hate to admit it but I have become a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, because they are everywhere in New England, and they often have drive thrus.  Any port in a storm.  My life is a perpetual storm…and some days there just isn’t enough caffeine in the world.
            
                                                                                                               

3 comments:

Sarah Reynolds said...

I feel empowered! Awesome perspective.

Anonymous said...

Combat and Motherhood are very stressful occupations. And both share many of the same skill set. However, if I was to be picky, and 'help' you have all the facts straight I'd lightly, helpfully, simpathetically mention:

Infantry carries a 50 pound backpack. Plus a 10# flak jacket. Plus 30# in ammo and a rifle. In 6# each boots. And a stupid helmet that doesn't stay in place. That's over 100# on your body.

And, in combat, you're getting shot at. I'm sure that cross eyed stares from others in Target make you feel like you're getting shot at, but the risk of death is just not there.

-Brett

Lara Davis Barnett said...

Brett, I will point out that this was written tongue in cheek. I do not mean to suggest that moms and soldiers are completely alike. I will also point out that one should comfortably carry about one third of your body weight in your pack, which the military requires you to carry more. Maybe the military needs to rethink what it requires of it's soldiers; being overly physically taxed while in a survival situation is not a good idea. I, myself, have carried a 60lb. pack which is more than 1/3 of my weight.
You and mom responded in the same way,seriously guys, relax.