Physical distancing doesn’t get much further than 13,000 kilometres, but that is about how far away mother of four, Corporal Rachel Murray, will be from her children and husband this Mother’s Day.
Corporal Murray is on deployment in the Middle East region, where she is working in an administrative role.
“I’ve been away for three months so far and I’m due home later in the year,” she said.
It’s a long time to be away from family, but being on a deployment is a challenge Corporal Murray has been wanting to undertake for a long time.
“When the opportunity to deploy came up I didn’t hesitate because I knew I would be supported by my husband, children and extended family,” she said.
While a long way from home, Corporal Murray contacts her family every lunchtime to catch up.
“This contact has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic as my children are all doing online schooling while being supervised by my husband,” she said.
Corporal Murray has been a member of the ADF for 18 years, starting out full-time, switching to part-time Reserve while she raised young children and then going back to full-time work as they became more independent.
“The ADF has been very flexible for me as a mum,” said Corporal Murray, who has four children (twin 15-year-olds, a 14-year-old and a 5-year-old).
“Last year when my youngest had 12 weeks of pre-school induction, I was able to work a compressed week so I could attend with him. I was also able to work two days a week from home, which allowed me to do school pick-up and stay connected to my teenagers,” she said.
Corporal Murray didn’t grow up in a Defence family, but many of them now serve their country in one way or another: her twin sister was in the Army and deployed to East Timor; her brother-in-law is in the Army and also currently on deployment; her husband is in the RAAF; and, her elder sister was in the Australian Federal Police and deployed to East Timor as part of a United Nations Peacekeeping mission.
Corporal Murray said it was not always easy for children who have ADF parents relocating every three years, but they get to benefit from some great experiences.
“We lived overseas for three years, which the kids absolutely loved, and they’ve been able to travel extensively around Australia due to the ADF,” she said.
This Mother’s Day will be a working day for Corporal Murray, but she said she will have time to watch a movie and call her family, who are currently based in Melbourne.
“For them it will just be like any other day but we will all celebrate being together again when I’m home in June,” Corporal Murray said.