There are a lot of children’s books
on the market explaining what it means for a daddy to be deployed, but books explaining why mommies deploy have been few and
far between. When operations started in Iraq , a generation of U.S. women became involved as never before; more than
155,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among their ranks are more than 16,000 single mothers, according to the
Pentagon, a number that military experts say is unprecedented. Meanwhile, the children these
single mothers leave behind are looking for answers. According to current statistics, 700,000 children of military members are under the age of 5. In Sharon McBride’s new children’s book, My Mommy Wears Combat Boots,
she appropriately conveys the emotions and
behaviors of the young children who find themselves in the care of others when their mothers deploy. The tone of the book
is soothing and uses words that are easily understood by young children.
My Mommy Wears Combat Boots is an illustrated children’s book based on McBride’s
personal experience as a soldier and a single mother. It also serves as a way to explain why she needed to leave her child
again and potentially be in harm’s way. The book explains emotions involved when a parent leaves and that it’s
OK to feel things.
“They are scared. The parent, who was there 24-hours-a-day
before, now has to leave and there’s an issue of abandonment there,” McBride said. “Kids feel all the emotions
an adult does, but can’t verbalize them like an adult.”
The 12-page book is about a little girl bear cub whose mother bear is away serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army. The cub goes through all the emotions of having a parent missing from her life and tries to cope with them. When the
cub is mad at her mother for being gone, Grandma helps with other ways to make her feel better. But the cub has a difficult
time expressing guilt, frustration, anger, loneliness and sadness, not realizing at first that it’s normal to feel all
of this and more as the result of her mother’s absence due to military deployment. In the book, the cub prays for all
the other children with moms in the military serving away from home, because there are lots of mommies who wear combat boots.
“The book goes into things that we went through,” McBride
said. “Grandma would help my daughter count the days off the calendar to when I would get home and read her my e-mails.
I also bought her these shoes that light up when she runs, and I asked her to think of me and I how much I love her when they