Byrne’s daughter Jane was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina in the 1960s.
Byrne, then in her 50’s, taught modern dance to her daughter’s fellow Marines and their spouses and gradually became an other mother in Beaufort’s military community. She invited them over to her house for home-cooked meals and advice.
That kind of community support and othermothering is even more important today, when more female members of the armed services are on active duty deployments than ever before.
Turns out Byrne – like most other mothers – just intuitively knew what she was doing, according to Dr. Mark Pisano, a military school psychologist I interviewed. He told me:
“Deployments are really hard on military parents, especially single moms. Even though they are required to have a caregiving plan, when those orders come it is a real stressor. Other mothers can help by doing anything from babysitting, so that mom can have a pampered afternoon, to cooking a nice dinner.”