Camp Pendleton Marine Staff Sgt. Maribel Valdez is mother to five children, and is currently serving at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan. She's a member of the I Marine Division (Forward).
Valdez spoke with the American Forces Press Service about the difficulty of being a mom so far away from her kids, who live in Temecula with her husband - a Marine veteran. Valdez says:
“It’s very hard, I’m not going to say it’s easy... I think it’s harder being a mom, it’s hard to know that a big part of your life is not here with you.”
Valdez's children are young. They are: Breanna, 12; Jose, 10; Issac, 9; Jason, 5; and Jacob, 4. Valdez says she does her best to explain to them why she has to be so far away from them, but they don't always understand. On Mother's Day, a phone call home was particularly painful for her:
“It was heartbreaking because it was the first time my [children] said ‘Mom you left me’ or ‘I’m lonely.' It’s hard to comfort them over the phone, knowing I can’t hug them to make them feel better.”
Valdez says she can't wait until she can return home from deployment to see her kids. Until then, she counts on care packages filled with family photos to fill the void.