Corporal Véronique Gagnon is a new mom, who has learned how to balance a career, a child and distance from her military partner. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post.)

Paying tribute to those who stand behind our men and women in uniform.

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday, July 13, 2017

Corporal Véronique Gagnon’s partner is a corporal with 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2 CER) and it isn’t uncommon for one to be deployed, in training or off in the field while the other has to remain at home.

But she has learned that she has the power to make it less painful for herself and her family. It was a hard lesson to learn.

When she moved to Petawawa four years ago, she initially hated it. She didn’t know anybody, nor was she very involved with the community. It was so unpleasant that she almost didn’t re-sign her contract with 2 Service Battalion. It wasn’t until she changed her mindset that it got better. “I was so stubborn,” she admits

“Don’t be afraid to get involved,” Gagnon said. “If you stay at home and your husband is away, you’ll get bored and you’ll probably get sad. If you don’t get out of the house, how can you be happy?”

She is currently on maternity leave so she had to stay behind while her husband went off to Wainwright for Exercise Maple Resolve. With a firm family care plan in place, the separation wasn’t as hard as she initially believed it would be.

Though the first week apart is always busy, things settled down once a routine was established for her child. Having a system in place does tend to keep things in order and prevent the family from spiralling out of control, which is no easy task with a small infant in tow, she said.“There are always ups and downs,” said Gagnon.

As a new mom, she has had to balance taking care of every-day household chores, entertaining an infant and taking care of her own needs. Yet despite any apprehension she may have had, she still managed to deal relatively well.

She has done that by keeping a positive attitude and being kind to herself. “I’ve done my best,” said Gagnon. “So even if I am stressed out and tired, I know that I should be proud of myself.”

According to a study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, many mothers strive for perfection and this attitude winds up being detrimental to both parent and child.

Being too harsh on oneself and comparing ones’ parenting to that of others, particularly on Facebook, tends to promote depression and anxiety.

By accepting that she isn’t supermom, Gagnon makes temporary solo parenting less of a challenge. She also counts on the wisdom and help of family members, who have always been there for her. “I’ve always been a family person,” said Gagnon. “Even though they are seven hours away, I know they are always there for me.”

To also help combat loneliness while her husband is away, she also takes the time to do things that bring her joy such as volunteering and going to the gym. It allows her to reclaim her identity and spend time with other adults. “I can send my child to day care and take time for myself,” said Gagnon. “Yes, I’m working and doing something. I can relax and breathe.”