SD Guard - A wife & mom on the homefront

Active Duty - 10/28/2009

By Jim Kent
One of the most difficult situations for military family members is to carry on wtih their daily lives while wondering about the safety of a loved one who's been deployed. Today we visit with Michele Anderson. Her husband is stationed in Kuwait until next Spring with the South Dakota Army National Guard.

It's seems like a million miles from the relative calm and safety of Rapid City to the daily chaos in parts of the Middle East. Military wife Michele Anderson doesn't live with the constant fear the families of many military personnel do. Her husband, Brett, is with the South Dakota Army National Guard in Kuwait. That's quite a distance from the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. But reality dictates that anything can happen to servicemen and women - even when they're in what's considered a "safe zone". Still, Michele says her primary focus is on her "mission" within the reality of the homefront.

"Well, in real life, I think we're doing really well. I think we're doing good," Michele says. "I'm not looking forward to the winter...that's for sure. I'm not looking forward to wintertime., or..."

Or the problems that go with it. For a working parent dealing with two young children whose father is away from home for a year, those problems are varied and subjective. In the Anderson home, 4-year old Ema is still in pre-school. Her 6-year old brother, Taylor, just started kindergarten. Mom, Michele, is concerned about the usual issues that accompany kids in those situations, along with a heightened awareness of the upcoming cold and flu season.

"Not that I don't have good support at work. I do," Michele explains. "But...that's a lot. That's a lot of pressure, trying to take care of everything and knowing that you've kinda got to do that by yourself. So, that's probably the biggest thing right now."

That along with the fact that the colder weather means more time inside for Ema, Taylor and Mom. Whereas the summer allowed for a variety of activities to keep Michele and her children occupied - and not thinking about Brett Anderson's absence, winter time is more of a challenge, But Michele Anderson is on it.

"You know, tomorrow Emma and I are going to go to...Momma Mia's at the theatre here in town," says Michele "And she loves the music from Momma Mia. So, we thought that we would go and do that together. And I know she's a little young, but we think it will be fun to just go and get out and do something, so..".

So, this is like a girls' day out?

"Yup." Michele says. "We've gotta have girls' days and then we've gotta have sometimes Momma and Taylor days."

Those days are usually easier, says Michele.

"Because all I have to do is drive to the gas station and buy a box of worms," explains Michele. "My Taylor is a bug explorer and he just is always out here picking up grasshoppers and bugs and digging in the dirt. So, when we go to the gas station, we always joke that Emma will get a bag of M&M's and Taylor will get a box of worms. So it can be a Mom / Taylor thing, but..."

But Michele leaves the "hands-on" worm-playing to her son. Of course, this isn't to say that the Anderson kids are oblivious to their father's absence.

"Miss Emma always gets frustrated if we get blackbirds in our yard, because she knows that that's her Daddy's pet peeve," Michele explains. "So she would want to, she'd always say, 'Mom, you call Dad right now and you tell him to come get these blackbirds out of here.' So, they are very much, you know, in tune with their Dad being gone. They accept it as well as it can be accepted. I don't know with their ages that they fully grasp. But we do spend a lot of time drawing pictures."

Ema and Taylor have also been collecting leaves to send to Brett Anderson to make up for the Fall colors he's missing while in Kuwait. The leaves should be easier to ship than the countless rocks the Anderson kids are also collecting. And when they're not drawing pictures or packing care boxes for their Dad, Michele has Ema and Taylor involved in a variety of programs specifically geared toward the families of deployed personnel. They include activities at the YMCA and classes at the Sylvan Learning Center. As for her long-distance relationship with her husband, Michele says she's doing the best she can.

"You know, Brett's my husband and I intend to be with him for a very long time," says Michele. "So, taking a year away for us certainly is a sacrifice, but we're not going to let that put us in a negative state."

Michele Anderson plans to spend the holidays with family in South Dakota and Texas and continue taking life on the homefront one day at a time with her kids.





view photo

Click here to play Real Media:
Listen to audio
Get the Flash Player to see this video.