Military Family Life: A single mother’s experience

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
She is an Airman, a noncommissioned officer and the mother of a 5-year-old girl. Throughout her life, she’s risen to overcome numerous obstacles including the challenges of military deployments and going through a divorce after six years of marriage.

Staff Sgt. Amanda Scheer, 60th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, arrived at Travis Air Force Base in December 2009 as a civilian military spouse. According to a recent enlisted performance report, today she’s responsible for managing nine government contracts valued at $40 million.

“I married my high school sweetheart in August 2009,” said Scheer. “He was an air traffic controller in the Air Force at the time we got married and he later commissioned into the Medical Service Corps.”

During her time as a military spouse, Scheer worked as a bartender, waitress and as a general manager for a brewing company. She also took classes toward a bachelor’s degree in contract management.

“Business has always been a passion of mine,” she said. “I like little details which is what contracting is all about. My ex-husband’s stepdad talked about contracting in the Air Force a lot and that helped spark my interest in the career field.”

Desiring to pursue her dream of working in contracting, Scheer enlisted in the Air Force in November 2012. She would get quite a surprise several weeks later.

“During my fourth week of technical training, I learned I was 17 weeks and three days pregnant,” said Scheer. “I unknowingly went through basic military training while carrying a child. At the next appointment I learned I was having a girl and all I could think about was if she was OK.”

The doctors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, had good news for Scheer; her growing baby girl was completely healthy.

“I was thrilled,” she said. “I always wanted a girl.”

After graduating from the Contracting Apprentice Course in March 2013, Scheer returned to Travis AFB five months pregnant. On Aug. 9, 2013, her daughter, Paisley, was born.

“I was very excited the day she was born,” said Scheer. “I never knew what love was until I held her. I also gained a greater appreciation for my parents because I realized, while I held my baby girl, how much they loved me because of how much love I felt for my own child. That moment changed my world for sure.”

While Scheer was overjoyed to be a mother, she and her husband grew apart over time.

“I think a big issue in relationships, especially marriage, is not meeting the other person’s expectations,” said Scheer. “Over time, I realized we had different expectations of one another.”

Scheer filed for divorce in January 2015 and her divorce was finalized in August of that year. She was awarded full custody of Paisley and has juggled the requirements the Air Force has levied upon her, along with her motherly responsibilities.

“Paisley was born with a corneal dermoid on her left eye, which was affecting the color and vision in that eye,” said Scheer. “When she was just 3 months old, she had to have surgery to remove that. Ever since then, she sees a pediatric eye doctor five times a year. I also had to patch her good eye to strengthen her weak eye for up to five hours a day until she was five-years-old. During a recent visit, a doctor said that with her glasses on, her vision is that of a normal child.”

Scheer said her squadron leadership has been supportive of her and her daughter.

“I receive a tremendous amount of support from the squadron if Paisley has anything going on,” she said. “When I need to take her to eye doctor appointments in Walnut Creek, California, which require me to be gone half of the work day, my commander understands that and works with me to support those appointments. If she’s ever sick and can’t go to the child development center, my leadership understands that as well. They’ve just been amazing.”

Scheer has also received support from her parents who she credits with enabling her to deploy.

“My parents took care of Paisley during my six-month deployment,” she said. “My leadership also helped get my parents passes to Nellis AFB, Nevada, because they live in Las Vegas, so they could shop at the Base Exchange and the commissary to ensure Paisley had all she needed. They also helped get Paisley a spot in the CDC at Nellis.”

“I’ve also gone on a few temporary duty assignments and my parents always watch Paisley during those times,” added Scheer.

During her deployment to Southwest Asia, Scheer managed 14 expeditionary contracts valued at nearly $12 million helping secure a new vehicle search area, hospital and fitness center for the installation.

She said she called Paisley twice a day, every day, so she could stay connected to her little girl.

“Sometimes she didn’t want to talk to me because she was only 4 years old and wanted to play,” she said. “When we did talk, we discussed where I was, what I was doing and what she was doing. She only had one breakdown while I was gone, which was terrible to go through, but for the most part, she rocked it.”

“I wouldn’t be able to deploy or go on TDY assignments without the support from my parents,” Scheer added. “I could get by with the day-to-day things, but supporting the bigger aspect of the mission I’m required to would be much more difficult.”

When Scheer returned from that deployment, her daughter was the first person she saw when she exited the airplane.

“We just held each other and I cried,” said Scheer. “Paisley just kept saying, ‘Mamma, Mamma’ as if she was shocked to have me home.”

When she’s not deployed, Scheer said she enjoys spending as much time with Paisley as she can.

“We enjoy watching movies together and I take her to her ballet and gymnastics classes,” said Scheer. “She also enjoys playing soccer and singing and dancing around the house.”

Scheer said she wants people to understand the most difficult part of being a military mother is dealing with the unknown.

“Not knowing when I will deploy or go TDY is the hardest thing to deal with,” she said. “When that happens, I need to figure things out for Paisley like where she is going to go to school, who is going to watch her, how is she going to get there and what doctor she will go to. Leaving her is not an easy thing to do either, but those things just add so much stress on top of everything else I have to deal with. That’s the most stressful thing about being a military parent.”

While military life can be challenging, Scheer is doing all she can to serve and raise her daughter.

“Paisley is the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “She saved me. If it wasn’t for her, I might still be in that old relationship and unhappy. She is my greatest blessing. God gave her to me to save me. She makes being a single mom worth it.”