A mum leaves a child at home as she takes up a RAF posting to the Falkland Islands whilst serving with the Royal Air Force. This interview is with my oldest childhood friend so I am delighted to feature her story (or one of them) on my blog.
What is your striking story?
While in the Royal Air Force I was sent on detachment to the Falkland Islands. This meant being away from my husband and 3 year old daughter for 4 months. I didn’t think I would be able to cope with not seeing them for so long and wondered how would they mange without me. Would Yasmin understand that I was not gone for good but would be coming back. It was such a wrench leaving them at the airport with tears streaming down my face.
What were the good things about this situation?
This would give my husband chance to be close to Yasmin and spend more time with her than he would normally. Even though he too was in the RAF and working full time he was able to juggle things so that he was able to be there for her and enjoy father/daughter day trips. My parents also helped where they could and Yasmin got to be with them more often.
What were the challenges that faced you?
I missed them both so much and speaking to them on the phone was very upsetting and also difficult because of the 5 hour time difference. Yasmin would always ask when I was coming home and I would just say “soon” because I couldn’t say October (it was June when I left) as she wouldn’t really have understood. She actually had her 3rd birthday while I was away and not being there for that was heart breaking for me. My husband sent a video of her opening her cards and presents. I just cried as I watched it.
How do you ensure you get time to yourself these days?
I actually have a lot of time to myself as Yasmin is now at university but I spend that time worrying about her.Is she eating properly? Does she like being there? Does she have good friends? The usual mum things!
Have you ever rediscovered or reinvented yourself?
I think joining the Royal Air Force changed me. It made me more confident and I think I realised I was tougher than I thought I was. I didn’t get homesickness like a lot of the girls. I did miss my family but I knew they were behind my decision to join and were just a phone call away when I needed to talk. I coped with the strict basic training better than anyone thought I would even though I was one of the smallest girls in the group and not a very sporty person either.
What part/s of your body do you consider to be beautiful?
My mouth and lips. My smile.
What makes you stand out?
People say I am a very cheerful person and always have a smile on my face. I hope that makes me stand out from the crowd.
Is it important to you to support other mums?
I haven’t really thought about that to be honest but I think we do a very valuable job and don’t get the recognition we should in society.
Which mum inspires you?
I would have to say my own mum who raised us 4 fabulous daughters (okay so my dad is fab too!) Look how well we all turned out with a working class, Yorkshire upbringing. We did not have a lot of money but lots of love and laughs.
How could the Government make mums lives better?
Lower child care costs. Flexibility in maternity leave and returning to work.
Hayley has now retired from the Royal Air Force and lives in Spain with her husband Mo enjoying the sunshine and cycling.
Do you have experience of a RAF posting to the Falkland Islands?