This Mother's Day we're celebrating RAF mums, so we've asked a mum from RAF Lossiemouth to blog for us. Karen Cox tells more in this blog.
Being an RAF mum isn't the easiest job in the world, but it's the best one I've ever had! I am 45 years old and have been a stay at home mum all my 'mum life' which I love!
I now have older children, but health issues mean I cannot work, so do what I can to keep myself busy in other ways.
Rob and I got married in June 1997, I already had two young children from a previous marriage, and we went on to have our youngest, Natalie who is now 12.
The older two are now both studying in Edinburgh, but come home as often as they can. Rob is a sergeant currently deployed to Afghanistan with 617 Squadron and this is his second tour to Afghanistan.
Being an RAF mum does have its ups and downs, sometimes the single parenting role can take its toll. But the peer support from others in the same situation is invaluable and is core to family life in the RAF.
I think the hard times have to be all the birthdays and anniversaries we have missed spending together, especially Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas, but we soon make up for them when he is home.
But being an RAF mum has also given me the opportunity of living in one of the most gorgeous places in the country (Moray) and to meet so many interesting people over the years.
It has also taught me a great deal of independence as I have lived away from my family for most of my married life, which means there are no grandparents to pick up the pieces when you have had a bad day!
There is no denying it's hard when Rob goes away, there is an emptiness in the house which just can't be filled, but modern technology means we have regular contact.
It can be a bit overwhelming when you look at the calendar and realise just how many months you are going to be on your own, but I break it down to weeks and keeping in touch with other wives does help the time pass. But more than anything, I am incredibly proud of the work he does.
It's only recently that I learned more about what the RAF Benevolent Fund does and I have since become a staunch supporter. Knowing that you have such an organisation behind you, ready to support you should you need it, is very comforting. You never know what the future holds and the support the RAF Benevolent Fund offers is so wide.
Most people will be able to benefit from their help at one point in their lives, for me it is currently through Airplay.
During Rob's last deployment, Natalie started going to Airplay and we have never looked back since. Due to my ongoing health issues Natalie is a young carer so, as a family, we are limited with what we can get Natalie to, especially when Rob is working or deployed, so the support offered by Airplay is invaluable!
Natalie gets to meet up with her friends once a week and I don't have to worry about getting her there and back. She also knows she can talk to the staff and other children and that they will understand what she is going through, without having to explain all the ins and outs.
Once I realised just how important Airplay was to Natalie, it became equally important to us and I started to volunteer as a fundraiser.
We are fundraising for Airplay Lossie and the RAF Benevolent Fund by holding events and we also hope to encourage other families to get involved.
I don't know what to expect for Mother's Day, that's part of the surprise! My eldest daughter is coming home and I am sure both girls will do their best to make the day special for me, they always do.
It is also Rob's birthday, so we will have to celebrate for him too, I don't mind eating two cakes. It’s all in the line of duty!
617 Squadron wives are holding a Mother's Day pot luck lunch on the station, so none of us will have to cook, instead we will spend it having fun and relaxing together.
By Karen Cox