Military moms are a special breed – women account for only 17.3% of our active-duty force and 21.4% of the National Guard and reserves, according to the Department of Defense. There’s a lot to be proud of if your mom, or your spouse who’s a mom, is serving her country. But when Mother’s Day comes around, having a mom or spouse who’s deployed can bring up a lot of difficult emotions, not the least of which is that you miss her.
9 Ways to Celebrate Your Deployed Military Mom
Even though it can feel challenging, there are ways to celebrate Mother’s Day when Mom is deployed. Here are some creative ideas to let her know you love, appreciate, and admire her, near or far.
1. Record a Heartfelt Video Message
Grab your phone and hit record and ask family members to wish Mom a Happy Mother’s Day. Let everyone riff on their own or ask everyone the same question, like “What’s your favorite memory with Mom?” or “What’s the thing you appreciate most about Mom?” or “What’s the first thing you want to do with Mom when she gets back?”
Take it to the next level by singing a song or putting on a choreographed dance routine just for her! Send the video message through email or upload it to a cloud-sharing service (like Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud) so Mom can watch it whenever she has internet access.
2. Invite Mom to Join a Virtual Family Dinner
Help your mom feel more connected to the family on her special day by arranging in advance for her to join you at mealtime via video call. This is an opportunity for everyone to tell her face-to-face (at least virtually) how much they love and miss her.
3. Invite Mom to Movie Night
Similarly, you can host a long-distance movie night and watch a family favorite or something new together over a video call. Use a “watch party” feature or browser extension so everyone, no matter their location, can synchronize playback. Choose a movie Mom loves, of course! (Not sure what flick to pick? Here are some of our favorite military movies and summer movies.)
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4. Create a Social Media Tribute
Post favorite pictures, share treasured memories, and write messages of love and appreciation on a social media platform your mom is active on. Tag friends and family members and ask them to contribute their own memories, photos, and well wishes, too. And, of course, don’t forget to share it with Mom so she can see all the love!
5. Put Together a Care Package
There’s no tradition more beloved than the military care package! What does your mom love? Put together a care package full of her favorite snacks, toiletries, magazines, books, and personal items she might be missing while she’s away. Add recent photos, handwritten cards, or drawings from each family member. (Remember to leave plenty of time for shipping to an APO or FPO address. Read more about it at USPS.)
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6. Send a Piece of Custom Jewelry
A piece of jewelry is a lovely gift on its own, but custom jewelry that was made with Mom in mind is even more special. Look for something that symbolizes the family bond, like a necklace with her children’s names, initials, or birthstones, a charm bracelet with charms that represent family memories, or a ring engraved with a thoughtful message.
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7. Create a Photo Album
Gather together photos of your mom and the people she loves most and arrange them in a photo album for her. You can ask friends and family members to contribute their favorite photos and write a special note that can be photographed and included, too, to make the book even more special. Send it to her on deployment, or send her a link to the digital book so she can see it now and let her know the physical book is waiting for her when she gets home. A photo album is a great way to show how much you care while giving Mom something to cherish while she’s so far away.
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8. Plant a Tree or Garden
Is Mom a gardener? If so, planting a sapling, flowers, a flowering shrub, or an herb or produce garden is a novel but thoughtful way to celebrate her and her love of nature. If you know her favorite flowers or herbs, you can plant those (if they grow in your hardiness zone) so she can enjoy them when she returns from deployment. Send photos over time so she can witness the progress from afar, too!
9. Organize in Your Community
Another way to celebrate Mom is to pay it forward in your own community. Is your mom passionate about a certain cause? You can organize an activity, collect items, or raise money to support a worthy cause. Some ideas: Organize a local park cleanup on a weekend afternoon, gather canned food to donate to a local food bank, collect gently used clothes to give to a local shelter, or ask for monetary contributions so you can make a donation to a charity in her name. This is another great way to honor Mom, whose life is a model of sacrifice and service.