Getting Her Sea Legs
The first few months aboard the ship were especially hard for Natalie, who had been at home to witness the formative stages of her children’s lives. On deployment, she found herself thousands of miles away from home.
To her surprise, she found an entirely new family on-board the ships she went underway with, like the USS Momsen; many of these Sailors were going through their own hardships being away from loved ones. It was here that she found the inner strength to keep pushing and see out those most difficult moments. Her colleagues soon became friends she could lean on. Whether it be banter at the lunch table or needing a shoulder to cry on, Natalie’s Navy family were her rock.
The most heartwarming moments were when the ship would pull into a port and she could video chat with her husband and three adoring kids. Hearing about their progress in school, new friends they’d made, along with Ben’s progress; it filled her heart with joy.
“The greatest feeling is probably the night before you actually pull in. You’re so excited because you get to go home and everything, but at the same time, it’s almost terrifying because you’re just like, what’s gonna be there when I get home? Are they gonna be happy? Are they gonna be sad? Are they gonna be upset?” Natalie recalled.
Though her children prefer her to be home, they now understand and appreciate the sacrifice their mother makes for them. Natalie may be away for long stretches of time, but the Tardif kids know that she is doing it all for them- to put food on their plate and clothes on their backs. Though Natalie does miss her family every day, she finds consolation in how markedly special the time she does share with her children is.
“When I do see them [my family] I’m just like, keep it together. Tell them you love them before your voice starts quivering so that they know you don’t get upset. I’m thinking I’m just so happy that I finally get to see you. It brings no greater joy,” Natalie said, wiping away a tear.