Soldiers Adam and Jodie Older on being parents in the military.

Afghanistan to Aldershot – Being a Parent in the Military

It took Adam being deployed to Afghanistan for Jodie to realise she liked him. We find out how they’ve gone from friends to military parents.

When Adam opens the door, the first thing we see is an excited red blur which turns out to be Isabella – Adam and Jodie’s daughter. Izzy is the star of the show and their lives revolve around her. But there was time when they laughed off any suggestion that they should date.

Jodie and Adam with daughter Izzy

Jodie and Adam met in the Army through their mutual interest in swimming. Jodie was an Inter Corps swimming champion and had been picked for a training camp in Gibraltar. Adam had also been offered the chance to go to the camp. "They said: ‘Do you fancy going to Gibraltar for ten days for £50?'”, he recalls.

Jodie remembers how they first met: “We’re opposite. He’s shy and quiet, while I'll speak to anyone. I’d not been in the Army long and I’d never been on a trip like this, so I went to find him and was like: 'Are you going? What are you taking? It says this, this and this'. I was just checking I was taking the right stuff.”

Adam: “It started from there. We got talking and I liked her. I thought she was nice.”

Jodie: “We clicked, but I was blind to it all.”

Adam: “We both were, to be fair. We were both in our own little worlds, not realising.”

Jodie and Adam sitting on bed

It was a standing joke with Adam’s mates that he and Jodie were together and were keeping it a secret. Even Jodie’s mother could see that there was more to their relationship than them just being friends. It took Adam being deployed to Afghanistan for Jodie to see how much he meant to her.

“It wasn’t until Adam was in Afghanistan that I realised I liked him” Jodie

Jodie was sending Adam parcels twice a month. “I liked to use my imagination and put some thought into it. The European Swimming Championships and the Olympics were on so I sent chocolate gold medals from the Olympics, athletics stuff, a mini football", she remembers.

“I was getting really, really excited about putting this parcel together, and I remember being in Tesco’s and I was like: ‘He’ll like that, he’ll like this’. And then I was like: 'Why am I getting excited about getting a parcel together? This isn’t normal'.”

Belongings of Jodie and Adam including concert tickets, stuffed toy monkey and teddy bear

Jodie even sent Adam her treasured Liverpool teddy bear (pictured above) knowing full well that Adam, a Chesterfield fan, didn’t share her love of Liverpool. Jodie remembers: “I was like: ‘You’ve got to promise to look after him and he’ll need to come back in one piece’.” Adam took good care of the bear, returning him safe and sound, and he is now part of Izzy's collection.

Once Jodie had realised that she liked Adam, she had a choice – to wait until he came back from Afghanistan or to tell him immediately. She decided to screw up her courage and tell him immediately. Adam was delighted when he heard the news.

“I couldn’t wait to get back – I was just looking forward to getting back and seeing her” Adam

They spoke daily, with both of them looking forward to seeing each other – but there were some niggling doubts. Had they made the right choice or had they just ruined their friendship?

When Adam came back from Afghanistan on his R&R, instead of seeing his family he went straight to see Jodie. They hadn’t seen each other for nearly a year. Jodie had been returning from Cyprus the day Adam left for Afghanistan, and had missed him by a few hours.

“I hope we’re not disappointed.” Jodie

Jodie: “He was delayed by bad traffic. I'd cleaned my room and done everything to keep myself busy and then I was just waiting there. So I cracked open a bottle of wine because I was nervous. I was thinking: ‘I hope this is the right thing. I hope we’re not disappointed’.”

Luckily they weren't. When Adam came back from Afghanistan and whisked Jodie off to London for a romantic weekend it was the start of something special. Their relationship has gone from strength to strength and they were married just before Christmas in 2014. Adam proposed to Jodie after discussing the future with her and realising that “it felt right and it felt comfortable”.

The arrival of Isabella has increased their family by one and they're looking to the future. Adam, a keen cook who learnt from his grandmother, is looking forward to passing on his love of cooking to Izzy.

"Izzy has hollow legs,” says Adam. “Even at the childminder's she'll eat her own food and then go for everyone else's".

“I’m lucky Izzy’s at that age where she doesn’t understand, she thinks that when I’m away I’m at work.” Jodie

Being a parent whilst in the Army brings its own set of challenges. There’ll be times when Adam and Jodie are away because of their jobs.

“Last year I went to Cyprus for a week and Adam was on exercise for two weeks,” says Jodie. “so my mum had to come up and get unpaid leave from her job to look after Izzy for a week.

“The Army are supportive, but it is a balance. I do shift work and the childminder can’t have Izzy overnight. I’m lucky Izzy’s at that age where she doesn’t understand, she just thinks that every time I’m away or Adam’s away, that we’re at work.

“I’m due posting in July, and my regiment is due to move to Tidworth, which’ll have a big effect on our lives as Adam’s in Aldershot. He’s looking at posting now, but come next year we could have to make some decisions about what to do.

“Isabella’s due to start school next year, but we can’t apply in Tidworth as I’ve not moved there yet. So I have to apply in Aldershot and then go through the application process in Tidworth again.

“My friends are like ‘I don’t know how you do it’, but it’s just something that comes with the job.” Jodie

“It can be hard getting that balance. I might be a mum but I’m still expected to do a job, and that’s why I’m in and why I signed up.”

“When I’m away from her it is hard, but I’ve learned how to just switch off and do my job and when I know I’m coming home that’s when I build myself up again.

“A lot of my friends are like ‘I don’t know how you do it’, but it’s just something that comes with the job and I have to adapt to.

“As much as I love my job, being a mum is definitely the best job in the world.”

Becoming a mum in the military

“For anyone that’s in the military and thinking about becoming a mum, just know that there is support out there. When you’re in the armed forces you’re not posted around home. So you do have support networks and welfare options in your unit, and there are people out there that will help and support you.

“If you do need that help and support don’t be afraid to speak up. The system is there to be used and give out that advice, so use it.”

Asking for support

If you’re in need of support or assistance, then you can contact the Legion to find out how we can help.

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