Nicole Washington grew up in the heart of North Philadelphia, in a single parent home but still found a way to pursue her dreams...
Nicole shares her "I Do" Story
As I approach the 10-year anniversary of when I joined the United States Navy, I reflect on what motivated me to enlist and what has transpired within this decade. After the death of my youngest brother Frank (who died when he was 20 years old in 2003), I realized that I had accomplished nothing substantial with my life that would benefit others. I wanted to make a difference and leave a lasting impact just as my baby brother had done in just 20 short years. As a recent graduate from Drexel University with dual B.S degrees in Civil and Architectural Engineering, I was left empty and with no direction with my life each day I went to work. I desperately yearned to do more and wholeheartedly felt as though I was destined for more. At 27 years old, I was so proud to serve in the world’s finest Navy and wore my uniform with honor as though my brother stood before me. It is with this very same pride that I am blessed to now serve as an Intelligence Officer after having served on three ships, at three shore commands, and 5 training commands. What drives me to keep going is the role model I have become for my 6-year-old twin daughters coupled with the passion I have for what I do.
The Job of Being A Sailor
The job of being a Sailor is not an easy one with two little adorable toddlers pulling on your uniform as you prepare to throw your sea bag over your shoulders as you get ready to deploy to Japan and within the 7th Fleet for four months. Working close to 15-hour work days while serving on sea duty (although the ship was docked pier side) made it impossible to tuck in my little angels or read them bedtime stories; however, my country was safer one more night due to me standing an armed watch with an M9 pistol and an M14 rifle. One may even say that I eventually got used to missing Mother’s Day and special moments at their pre-school due to the mission at hand or because of training conflicts. The only consolation prize being that my twins were too young to understand the concept of time, so I was afforded some leverage to celebrate when I returned. Through it all, my rock, my beacon of light, and my ray of hope whom I often refer to as “Mom” gave me the strength I thought I lacked to string up my boots one more time or pack my sea bag for one more deployment. Now pursuing her Ed.D, she teaches my twins and prepares them for the next grade and has been an integral part of my Navy career. When I felt like I was missing pivotal moments in their lives, she’d record everything and send me the footage. She taught my children how to pray and how to write their names. She made sure they ate the proper foods and were taught manners (old school manners that I was taught). They now ask to be excused from the table after eating a plate full of fresh vegetables and would prefer a carrot and broccoli over candy and cookies. The one whom they lovingly call “Nana” has been my placeholder and blessing from GOD to catapult me to the arena where I am supposed to be for GOD to use me. With my mind being at total peace while deployed because my twins are being taken care of and loved unconditionally, I was able to help Sailors and focus on my life saving shipboard duties.
How I handle guilt
What I do is not easy to do when the role of “mother” pulls at my heartstrings, however with the state our world is currently in and heading towards, what I do is necessary to keep my children and all children safe. There will never be a day that goes by while I’m deployed that I will not think of my precious angels, for it is because of them that I can do what I do. While putting on my uniform one day, I noticed one of my daughters was watching me and the sparkle in her eyes moved me to tears because not only was she watching me to observe, but she was watching to emulate me. I gain my strength from my praying mother, and I retain my strength from my angelic twins.
My Support system
I pray to successfully complete ten more years, by which time my twins will be 16 years old. I will always hold dear their earlier years where I completed missions that they were too young to pronounce, traveled countries they had not learned about on a globe, and combated terrorism while they lay on Nana while watching Elmo. I have never felt more empowered to drive and go forward as I have now after being a mother. They are the reason I never settle for mediocre when greatness is an option. My Mom’s undying support is the reason I have raised the bar and I am not held back to go above it. And lastly, GOD’s favor and peace are what keep me and guide me every day I am blessed to wear my uniform. My career in the Navy will one day come to an end, but my job as a mother I will fervently work until my last breath. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something greater than myself for my fellow Americans, my family, my friends, and my darling Gabriella Nicole and Desiree Rose, or better referred to as “Thing 1 and Thing 2”, “Grace & Mercy”, and “my baby cats”. They now help me pack my sea bags and understand when I have to leave that I will be away from them. I am brought to tears as these two little first graders pray for their Mommy as I walk out the door and look at me to tell me, “Mommy, thank you for your service”. And as they wipe the tears from my face my reply back is always, “No baby thank you”! When they ask why I tell them that they are now the reason Mommy serves and without them, I can’t imagine how I would be able to continue to do what I do. I have finally been able to come to terms with all the roles I must fulfill; I love my children… and I love what I do for my country…but I especially love serving my country as a mother. Now that is truly not a job, but an exciting adventure. Very Respectfully,
LTJG Nicole Washington, USN January 2016