Life Deployed In The Middle East Changed As A Mother Of Two
Life Stages

My Life Deployed In The Middle East Changed When I Became A Mother Of Two

Same person, same location two different perspectives.

944
Yahaira Seawright

Kuwait 2010 – part one

I joined the United States Air Force straight out of high school in 2007. After the required 6 1/2 weeks of Basic Military Training (BMT) and 3 months of the Security Forces technical school, I was sent to Great Falls, Montana. This was where I spent the entirety of my Air Force career, with the exception of my six-month deployment to Kuwait in 2010. The time spent in Montana could be seen as a period of isolation from society due to location and weather, all depending on the individual or the best time of your life. For me, it was similar to isolation.

In 2010, I was fortunate enough to be given a spot on a 13-man team for deployment. Malmstrom Air Force Base was not known for deployments and so this is why I say I was fortunate. You do not normally hear the word fortunate and deployment in the same sentence since many would associate deploying to a foreign country that is in the throes of war or conflict as a negative thing.

Armed and fabulous with an M4 Carbine rifle and M9 pistol Photo courtesy of Yahaira Seawright

For many of the enlisted personnel stationed at Malmstrom, deploying was the holy grail. I was the chosen one. With this assignment came excitement as well as nerves. It was a new adventure for me. A time to experience something different and be away from everyone and everything that I knew. One of the reasons I enlisted was to be able to travel the world. And this was my first step into doing exactly that.

I arrived in the country in August of 2010, considerably the hottest time of the year in Kuwait. Common knowledge told me to expect an extreme temperature change compared to what I was accustomed to in Montana. Extreme was an understatement to the blinding heat I experienced for the first half of my time in Kuwait.

The temperature, on average during those summer months would be around the 120s. It was unbearably hot, blinding and dry at all times. The only difference between night and day there would be the literal darkness. The temperature would be the same but without the blinding sun bearing down on you.

In the gear that was mandated for security forces personnel in a deployed location, the heat felt ten times worse than it would normally be without all the additional gear! I remember taking off my vest at the end of shift and seeing the sweat stains from the day. It was pretty disgusting. I did my laundry every other day to ensure I never wore the same dirty uniform twice in a row.

Being part of a 13-man team, I was fortunate to know a couple of good people that would be with me in this new and foreign place. One was a really good friend of mine and would also room with me during these 6 months. It is said that you never know who people truly are until you live with them. This is normally used when in a romantic relationship, but I feel it can be true for any relationship.

For me and my friend, I can honestly say that without her there with me, I am not sure what I would have done. She held me steady and was ALWAYS there when I needed someone most. I am, and will always be, grateful for her.

The threat was always real during my deployment. I know this because every single day before posting out, we would be given the same briefing. Be vigilant. Be wary. The threat is real. Even though nothing is going on does not mean that nothing is going on. If we posted on social media, we could not put our location or anything specific in our posts. Also, GPS had to be turned off to avoid potential pins to our location via our posts.

But in actuality, our location was not what one would consider the hot zone. This did not stop us from being cautious and remaining vigilant as was our job. And since the location is relatively safe, we had liberties that other locations were not privy to. Aside from not having the usual freedoms we were accustomed to in the States, we had it pretty good. We had access to a free gym that was open 24/7, a small Base Exchange (BX) store, a few eateries on the Air Force side, with more choices on the Army side, brick dormitories vs. tents and free Wi-Fi to keep connected to our loved ones back home.

Keeping connected wasn't a huge concern with me being single and no children. I did keep in contact with my parents on occasion, but for the most part, did my own thing. I used the opportunity of the downtime I had to go to the gym and focus on finishing my degree online. My work schedule was four-in-one. I worked four days with one day off. That day off was usually spent sleeping in until noon and just relaxing in my room, working on school assignments or writing. My goal was that by the end of the deployment, I would obtain my Community College of the Air Force degree (CCAF) and be in better shape than what I was when first arriving in the country.

That is the common goal for the majority of people that deploy because there is so much free time and we are not held down by schedules. Our focus is honed into working out. Because, why not?

My goals were met by the end of the deployment as well as I made new friends/connections to include meeting my future husband. I had some rough mental moments while I was in Kuwait and I feel I can attribute that to being so young and naive. I grew a lot from the experiences during this time and left Kuwait a different person with a different mindset.

Kuwait 2018 – part two

In 2013, I separated from the Air Force and was reserves for a few years. From the time of separation to 2018, I was in and out of jobs and actively looking for work. I was trying to find a career that I could call mine for the next 20 years or so. I wanted to find something that I loved doing. You know the phrase, do what you love and you will never work again? That was the end goal for me.

I guess you could say that I was finding myself. Or a better word could be floundering. From the time that I was 18 up until 2013, I was used to working every day. Being a housewife or a stay at home mom was not something I saw myself doing until I was doing it. And it affected me. I found out later on that what I needed was work. I needed to keep myself constantly moving or I would go insane.

My husband, Robert, was deployed from 2017 until 2018, so it was just me and my two wonderful children. And we were struggling financially. I hated it. I hated being dependent on someone else when it came to finances. I missed making my own money. I also knew that we needed a second job to make ends meet. That's when we came across contracting with the military.

This job, this foot in the door, required me to commit myself to a year in the Middle East. The location was the same as my earlier deployment in 2010, and so I thought, easy. I've done this before, I can do it again. The only difference being, I had a substantial amount of responsibilities I did not have the first go around.

The first and most pressing concern was my children.

Adrianna (left) me (center) Robert (right) at the Sacramento Airport as I prepare to leave for Kuwait again, after Christmas
Photo courtesy of Robert Seawright

My daughter, Adrianna is seven years old and my son, Robert III, is four. They are my heart and the center of everything I do. This job required me to leave my kids and I knew it would affect me as well as them, but I also knew that I was doing this for them.

It isn't easy to leave your children behind, especially when leaving them behind involves leaving the continent.

The next step was more like a leap, but a necessary one. Early in 2018, I left California and all I knew to return to Kuwait. I already knew this experience would be different from my first. For one, I was going as a civilian and not bound to the strict limitations of the military. Second, I was a different person entirely from my 20-year-old self.

Upon arriving in Kuwait, I already experienced something different from my first stint. I was arriving as a civilian through the international airport vs. arriving through military means. I was immediately immersed in what to expect of the locals from that first day in the country.

Having this civilian perspective of Kuwait, I was able to see the cultural differences first hand and the basic interactions with the locals. I found the locals friendly and engaging for the most part. The majority of locals were westernized, but there were also those locals who were traditional. They also were very conservative with their dress in comparison to Americans.

I made sure to be aware of the local customs and ensure I never wore anything that would be deemed inappropriate in a Muslim country. I had to make adjustments to what I would normally wear, avoiding shorts and sleeveless tops unless I was on a military installation. Even being on a military base, I had to comply with their dress code: no sleeveless tops unless you were going to and from the gym and no revealing clothing at all. The rules were simple enough but could be annoying if people were nit-picking, which on a military base, was likely.

Another change I had to adapt to quickly was learning to leave with other people. I have spent the last 10 years living independently, either in my own apartment or my family home with my kids and husband. I was used to doing my own thing without considering other people. I went from living in my home and going to and from to living in a building with military members and sharing a room with a complete stranger.

It was like I went back 10 years to when I lived in the dorms on base. But the difference was, I knew and loved that independence and freedom, only to not have that freedom. For the most part, I found it frustrating. I had to go back to sharing the laundry room and dealing with broken machines due to overuse and living in a teeny room with no real privacy. For lack of better words, the experience sucked.

Riding camels in Dubai Photo courtesy of Yahaira Seawright

Some similarities from my first trip to Kuwait to my second were: free 24/7 access to the base gym, access to the dining facility (free food), access to eateries on base, free Wi-Fi, substandard dorm living and shared facilities (laundry rooms). Some differences were: freedom to go wherever I wanted to whenever I wanted to, visa trips to other countries, holidays, travel and I got my own dorm room so I received some more privacy than initially. I came to Kuwait alone instead of with a team, which made adjusting a little harder than my first time

I never realized how hard living in Kuwait and being separated from my family would be. I missed them all the time.

The time difference did not help much. My family was in California, an 11-hour time difference from Kuwait. It made phone calls difficult since I had to account for when my husband would be awake if he was at work and if the kids were at school. I left it to Robert to call me so I would know they were available to talk.

I started a Master's program at the same time I left for Kuwait, so I have enrolled in school once again. This helped the days go by quickly since each week I had a deadline to meet. I also had a much busier work schedule. Instead of the 4-1 schedule that I worked when I was deployed in Kuwait as a military member, I worked a 6-1 schedule. I committed myself to the gym, being known as the girl that would be seen running around the base or lifting in the gym. On occasion, I socialized with my coworkers and would shop and eat.

At the Grand Avenues Mall, Kuwait City Photo courtesy of Yahaira Seawright

For this second deployment, I kept to myself. I kept busy with the gym and school work and made time to talk to my husband and kids. I focused on doing a good job at work. As the year closed out, I realized more and more that this job was not meant for my type of personality or even more, for a married mother of young children. It was an experience, it got my foot in the door for potential connections and it helped resolve the majority of our financial issues.

I do not regret the choice I made to contract out in Kuwait for a year and being away from my kids but I also know I would not take another job offer that would require me to be apart from my family again. It was a learning experience that had its pros and cons as most jobs are expected to have. But it was not the job for me.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Taylar Banks

May 25, 2020: the day that will forever be remembered as the day George Floyd lost his life at the hands of cops.

The day that systematic racism again reared its head at full force in 2020.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These 17 Black-Owned Businesses Ship Baked Goods, Rosé, And Even Fried Chicken Nationwide

Eat your way through this country's greatest food — from your couch.

Call it the easily bored Gemini in me, but I'm constantly looking for new food to try. Usually, travel quenches my taste for new and exciting cuisines, but given the fact that international travel is not always a possibility, I've begun exploring alternatives.

In the interest of wanting to support the Black community and Black-owned businesses, and also wanting to try some of the country's greatest food without having to get off my couch, I started off (pessimistically) doing research, only to find that the options were vast.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

24 Beauty And Style Brands Donating To The Fight To End Police Brutality Against Black People

From small, boutique brands to legacy fashion brands.

The worlds of beauty and fashion often collide, whether for good or bad. In both, underrepresentation has always been, and remains to be, a major unresolved issue. After the recent killing of George Floyd, many people are rightfully enraged, compounded by the fact his death in police custody wasn't an isolated incident.

Police brutality against Black people is not new, and isn't going away till we start dedicating resources to fighting it. Many of us, as individuals, have only begun in the last week scratching the surface of what it means to educate ourselves on race, historical race relations, and how to be an ally to the Black community.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because You Can Still Connect While Disconnecting From Social Media

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a lot going on right now, particularly in relation to George Floyd's death, Black Lives Matter, and public protest of racial injustice in the United States. While we can all agree that this deserves conversations, change, and actionable good, social media arguments with Great Aunt Linda are not where social change begins and ends. Spending too much time scrolling through your phone has never been healthy, but now it's even more addicting — what does that one person from my hometown say about this? How can I further education within discussions? Am I posting enough?

Keep Reading... Show less

I don't know about you, but reading is at the top of my to-do list this summer... especially with all the social distancing I'll still be doing. If, like me, you're hoping to pick up a romantic page-turner (or a couple dozen), here are 23 romance novels by Black authors you'll absolutely LOVE reading.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

22 Black-Owned Etsy Shops With The Perfect Gifts For Everyone In Your Life — Including You

Treat yourself and your loved ones while supporting Black creatives and artisans.

R-KI-TEKT, Pontie Wax, Lovely Earthlings, and blade + bloom on Etsy

The world is taking action against the injustices and under-representation plaguing Black lives, and one small but impactful thing you can do to actively make a difference is support Black-owned businesses.

Etsy is likely one of your go-to sites for gift-buying, but have you ever paid attention to which independent artists and sellers you're buying from?

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

True Self-Care Is HARD, That Face Mask Isn't Actually Going To Solve Your Problems

There's a line between self-care and self-destruction.

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past few years has seen something somewhere about self-care whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, or their Instagram feed. Oftentimes it's pictures of celebrities or influencers sipping green smoothies or slathering on mud masks with #selfcare. It's posts like these that made me realize that "self-care" has become the ultimate buzz word, soaring in popularity but in the process, it's lost most of its original meaning. It's time to set the record straight and reclaim the term.

Although self-care has been around for quite some time, within the past few years it's been misconstrued and commodified as our capitalist society tends to do with things it thinks can be profited off. Self-care is now being peddled as something that can be bought and sold on the shelf at Target rather than something that takes real work to achieve. This fake self-care movement is not only enabling people to over-indulge themselves, but it has created a crutch for people to avoid the responsibility of taking true care of themselves. Instead of doing the work that needs to be done, many people fall into the trap of rewarding themselves for doing nothing at all — this can quickly become an unhealthy coping mechanism, especially with corporations cheering us on (to buy their next product). Long, hard day at work? Just grab your third iced coffee of the day! Fight with your SO? Buy that 50-dollar face mask, it'll make you feel better! This is how self-care becomes self-sabotage and self-destructive.

Keep Reading... Show less

Minorities are consistently under-represented in our day-to-day lives, notably in the world of fashion. It's likely you're looking for a way to support black artists. Whether that's the case or you're just a fashion-lover in general, these brands aren't just some of the best black-owned fashion brands — they're some of the most innovative brands of our time, period.

From luxury staples to fun accessories and loungewear, these brands aren't just stunning names you should definitely be following on Instagram, each honors the founder's roots in unique ways with the power of storytelling through artistic expression that manifests in pieces we can't wait to wear.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments