Mother, Wife and Soldier: My "Coming Home" Story
--Guest Post from Elizabeth Mendoza
30-year-old mother of two, Elizabeth Mendoza is a PFC in the United States Army and is currently serving a one year tour in Afghanistan. She surprised her kids with a spectacular reunion in episode two of "Coming Home". The show airs Sundays at 10pm/9c.
I have a wonderful husband and two amazing daughters that are 4 and 12-years-old. I joined the Army almost two years ago because I couldn't find a job in what I had gone to school for and my husband Chris was also having difficulty finding work. Times were getting rough and I hated seeing my family struggle. I knew that if I joined the military my family would be able to live a better life and have health insurance without having to worry about whether or not we had the money.
We were in a period of our lives where we needed a change, so I checked everything out and it was the best decision I have ever made, besides marrying my husband! I can now give my kids a life that is promising, and it feels so great that I made this sacrifice for them. It is very hard being away, but I know in my heart that if I didn't, who knows where we would be today.
I am currently in Afghanistan serving a one year tour. I believe I have a very important role during this time of war. I am a 92F, which is a fueler, and without fuel to this FOB (forward operating base) it would not run and that includes showers, power, heat, air, everything a soldier needs to live comfortably!
The hardest thing about being in the military and being a mother and wife is just being away from my family, not being able to watch my kids grow and missing all the special times that I feel I should have been there for. However the Army has helped me as a mother in ways that can only be discovered by experiencing a deployment. I’ve learned to cherish everything about my kids; the fighting, the crying, being sick, etc...I don't think I will take anything for granted anymore!
We were so excited to be part of the "Coming Home" series because it gave us a chance to tell our story. We got to be ourselves in our everyday life and we shared our reunion with the world, which was amazing!
I was extremely emotional as I made my way down the escalator to meet my husband for the first time in 6 months. Being able to hold each other was the greatest feeling in the world and in those few moments it felt like time had stopped. I just want to say that my husband is the most amazing man I have ever met (except for my dad of course!). My husband has sacrificed everything for me to be able to provide for the family, he became a mother when I couldn't be there and a father at the same time.
Then it was time to surprise the kids. I was sitting in the control room of a news show watching them on the screens. My heart was pounding out of my chest, I wanted so badly to run out there and give them hugs and kisses but I knew that it would ruin the show. So I waited impatiently, and when it was time to walk out on the set with "Sushi" the dog, I saw my girls and I started to break down and cry almost immediately. I couldn't let go of them and when my youngest started crying it made it worse. I was so happy that my whole family was together again, it was a surreal feeling.
After we taped the show, we were able to spend the next two weeks together and we cherished every moment. When the time came for me to leave and head back to Afghanistan it was really hard; I wanted to stay with my family just a little bit longer. I broke down once again, and as I walked down the hallway to the plane, tears running down my face, an older gentleman said to me that it would be no time at all and that I would be with my family again soon. And as I look back on that moment, I realized he was right because I only have a few more days before I start my journey back home!
Right now I miss everything about my family and when I return home there is definitely going to be more family time all around. I don't know what I would do if I lost them or they lost me, and so I have to say that I honor all of the fallen soldiers that gave everything for their country and their families, they are our true heroes!
"Coming Home" airs Sundays at 10p/9c on Lifetime