Mother’s Day is a special day of thanks and celebration for all mothers, but for those Australian Defence Force members away from their families - it can be an especially important time.
Lieutenant Commander Christina Ween, HMAS Tobruk’s Maritime Logistics Officer, made a conscious decision to spend some time away from her husband, Anthony, and daughters Elizabeth, Madeline, Georgia and Alexandra to take on her current role.
“I knew that in order to progress my career and to do my dream job, I would need to take a sea posting.
“That meant living away from my family in Canberra and working on a Sydney-based ship that would spend much of its time away from home-port,” said Lieutenant Commander Ween.
With her four daughters aged between three and nine, Lieutenant Commander Ween stresses how important it is to ensure strong support from family, friends and colleagues.
She has found much of this support from within Defence; from mentors, the Navy Career Coaching Program and programs run by the Defence Community Organisation.
“The critical thing, however, is to have the support of your partner,” Lieutenant Commander Ween said.
She also stressed that having the backing of your Commanding Officer and colleagues makes things a lot easier.
Shortly after Lieutenant Commander Ween joined Tobruk, the ship embarked on what was to be a five week deployment.
Part way through the deployment, Tobruk was tasked to Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST to provide support following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. This meant that the mother of four would miss the birthdays of two of her daughters.
“My eldest daughter, Elizabeth, amazed me when she said “it’s okay mummy, I know you have to help those poor people who have lost everything”,” Lieutenant Commander Ween said.
She said she finds that there are some crossovers between being a mother and a Maritime Logistics Officer.
“I’ve found that I’ve become a very good contingency planner regardless of whether I am out for the day with the girls or far from home in a foreign port.
“I also have a keen eye for value for money - whether I am shopping at Costco or shopping for Canteen supplies.”
Lieutenant Commander Ween is keen to maintain a good balance between family and career, and wants to set a good example for other women in Defence.
“I value my career and my input to Navy and I hope that other women in the Navy can see that it is possible to go to sea and still be a mum.”
Like many professionals, the head of Tobruk’s Maritime Logistics Department carries a notebook, and inside the front cover is a photo of her husband and daughters.
“My family is close to my heart, and when I am at sea I can feel like I am always close to home,” she said, just before heading home for Mother’s Day.