Mother, Wingman go hand in hand
By Lt. Col. Shannon Klug, 30th Weather Squadron commander
/ Published May 09, 2008
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to take a moment to reflect upon mothers in the military. Motherhood makes women uniquely suited for military life. The word "motherhood" evokes feelings of nurturing, compassion, sacrifice, selflessness, mercy, patience and wisdom. The attributes of motherhood are nearly identical to those of a good wingman; mothers foster a culture of excellence and are strategic Airmen.
Wingmen and mothers share many qualities like dedication, compassion and selflessness. Moms are great cheerleaders and motivators. By learning to vary their motivation techniques between children, they parlay this skill into situational leadership as supervisors. For example, they know when to use a carrot or a stick for motivation. Mothers have patience and understand the value of putting someone in "time-out" for 3 minutes! Mothers make particularly good Senior NCOs because they've got eyes in the back of their heads! Finally, mothers will fight to the finish to secure the safety of their families--a trait of the ultimate wingman!
A culture of excellence is a way of life akin to motherhood. Discipline, a key component of excellence, is the foundation of the military as well as successful child-rearing. Case in point, did you ever notice the resemblance between TV's Super-Nanny and an MTI? Likewise, mothers are always prepared. They keep a few spare crayons in their purse to use in a pinch to occupy an impatient toddler. Similarly a good NCO has a deep toolkit for solving multiple problems on the fly to keep an operation on track. Mothers don't cry over spilled milk. They wipe it up, pour a new glass and move on. This translates into Airmen who learn from mistakes and move forward. A mother's work is never done and neither is an Airman's. There's always one more mission, one more inspection, or one more exercise on the horizon. We can look to our own mothers as models of the continuous journey in the pursuit of excellence.
Mothers are strategic Airmen. They realize that their impact reaches far beyond their immediate family or workcenter. Mothers also view mentorship strategically. They have big dreams for their children's futures, and like a military strategist they plan a course to achieve them. Mothers have perseverance when it comes to mentorship. Like a good frontline supervisor or commander, a mother gives her children the tools they need to grow and be successful. Then they know when to step back and let their protégé blossom. Employing AFSO-21 daily, they have honed their skills in multitasking. How else does one cook dinner, assist with homework, bathe kids, read a story and tuck them in before bedtime?
In conclusion, mothers are well suited for many roles in the USAF. They are great Superintendents. Does the phrase, "...just wait until your father get's home!" spark some incentive for you? Mothers are like First Sergeant's because they have great instincts about people and are in tune with the mood of their units. Another fundamental talent is the ability to discern between whining and a valid concern. Mothers epitomize service before self. Mothers balance the needs of their family with the curveballs tossed to them by life. Correspondingly, military commanders balance their focus on mission with caring for their people.
On Mother's Day not only will I appreciate the sacrifices of my own mother and revel in the wonder of being a mother, but I'll also say a silent prayer for the deployed mothers around the world.