“Our Marriage Comes First” – Mom of Three and U.S. Coast Guard Officer


January 21, 2019

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Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Ali. I am a Marine Engineer by trade and currently I am an officer on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard as a marine inspector. I come from a military family — my mom and dad were both active duty Navy. I moved around a ton as a kid, so I’m not really “from” anywhere in particular.

I met my husband, Andy, in college. We were both studying engineering at the US Merchant Marine Academy in New York and met on the swimming/diving team. My husband is also active duty and is a helicopter pilot. We have three boys ages 4, 2, and 6 months old, and our family grew both biologically and through adoption.

What do you find most rewarding about being a mother?

Before I was a mom, I was pretty self-centered, although I really didn’t want to admit it (or wasn’t fully aware of it). Every day, I am learning to think less and less about myself and more for others. In doing this, I have found a lot of joy. For me, it is both the most challenging and the most rewarding part of being a mom.

Being a dual military couple is logistically difficult. We are lucky that neither of us deploy for long stretches or are members of different services (ex: Marine Corps married to Army). We have to balance our duty schedules and make sure we coordinate if we are unavailable to be home at normal times.

We would also be hard-pressed to have dual military careers if it wasn’t for my parents living close by. As an only child, I’m lucky that my mom and dad have followed us around living the RV lifestyle since they retired. Their help has been indispensable as our family has grown.

Being in the Coast Guard is a huge responsibility and we’re so grateful to you. How are you making that work for you as a mom?

The most important thing I’ve learned as a working mom is that I can’t do everything.

My time with my family is precious. To maximize our attentiveness during the hours we have with our kids, my husband and I try to put away our phones between the time we get home and the time we get the kids to sleep. I don’t make elaborate or difficult dinners during the work week for the same reason. Mostly we do leftovers or easy things like tacos or spaghetti or PB&J’s. It may not be gourmet, but it works for us during this phase of life.

Also, making the most of the time includes being very intentional about spending intimate time with each child, whether that is cuddling them individually, reading a book with them quietly, or praying and talking with each one as we tuck them in. Making time to connect with them every day keeps them balanced, too.

In your opinion, what are some of the values and qualities that a couple should strive to cultivate while balancing work, family, marriage, and everything in between?

Besides our faith, our marriage is a strong fortress where we can weather the storms of life together. We spend time after we get the kids to bed connecting before we get to bed ourselves. That may mean reading together, talking about goals, or just cuddling. The most important thing for me to remember is that I didn’t marry my job, I married my spouse.

My vocation is to marriage and motherhood, not to my “job.”  And, my husband married me and not his job. His vocation is to marriage and fatherhood. If for any reason our work started coming between our marriage or our family we would, in the words of Chip Gaines, “shut this circus down so fast it will make your head spin.”

Our marriage comes first and a happy family life is the natural result of carefully cultivating our marriage. It’s from our strong family and marriage we are able to continue to work outside the home and doing what we love to do in the Coast Guard every day.

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