Soup Sandwiches + Dandelion Greens in this Military Life

dark-haired woman blowing dandelion seeds in a field

One of my favorite phrases from my time in the Marine Corps is “soup sandwich.” 

Soup sandwich is used to describe any situation that’s a hot mess. Whether you are active duty, a spouse, or a parent, being involved in military life comes with a LOT of soup sandwiches. 

Can you imagine how impossible is would be to try to eat an actual soup sandwich?

Somehow, we manage to do it over and over again. It has always blown my mind just how capable mothers are at handling all the challenges military life throws at them. 

And now about those dandelion greens. Did you know that the dandelion is the flower of the military child? Seems a little weird. We usually despise those weeds in our yard. But once I read why, it made perfect sense. I think all of these things apply to military mothers as well. 

Dandelions are persistent

closeup of a dandelion Have you ever actually tried to get rid of all the dandelions in your yard? I have a medal for anyone who has actually succeeded. No matter how hard you try those little buggers just keep coming back year after year. 

Military women are the same. We don’t give up. You give us a problem to solve and we will make it happen. Whether it’s last minute PCS orders, a wildfire on base, or a literal mountain to be crossed we will find a way. 

Dandelions are Spread Far and Wide

dandelion seeds floating in the airEach year, those cute little fluff balls explode and fly everywhere. A single seed can fly up to 100km! That’s almost two full marathon runs away. 

Every few years, we are uprooted and sent hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away to start over. We have to plant new seeds, put down new roots, and thrive. No matter how many times it happens, somehow we keep going. 

Dandelions Can Survive Almost Anywhere

dandelions in cracks of stoneDandelions are spread over a wide range of climates and are EVERYWHERE.

Crack in the sidewalk – dandelions.

Field of grass – dandelions.

Beautiful manicured garden – dandelions.

Wherever they land they grow!

Once those PCS orders blow us half a world away, it’s up to us to make a new house a home. We pack, move, decorate, and start a new chapter in our lives. We comfort sad kids, help them adjust to new schools, and figure out a new command. We turn little fluffy seeds of exploration into full grown flowers of love, laughter, and life. 

Dandelions Always Have Friends

field of dandelionsHave you ever seen a dandelion growing by itself? I haven’t. Even when inhabiting the tiniest crack of a sidewalk, I always see two or three together. When you get them in a field, they spread far and wide. 

The military is one big family. No matter where we go, we have instant, built-in friends. We all understand what it is to be new and lonely, so we never let someone feel that way for long.

Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been welcomed with open arms by the other women around me. The friendships I forged nineteen years ago (has it really been that long?!?!) at my first duty station are still going strong today. 

Dandelions Have Strong Roots

person reaching down into a field of dandelionsHave you ever tried to just pull a dandelion out of the ground? It usually breaks off at the stem. If you don’t dig up the root, it just grows right back. 

We also have strong roots. You might knock us down for a moment, but we always rise again stronger than ever. Whether it is a deployment, an injury, PTSD, loss, or simply getting that annual birthday ball pulled off, we will rise to the occasion. We may need a day or more to yell and scream about it, but we always keep on keeping on. 

Dandelions are Full of Wishes

Every fall I look forward to making wishes on dandelions with my children. Doesn’t matter how old I get, I will still feel that thrill of joy as I blow hard and watch the seeds float away with my dreams. 

Military women are full of hopes and dreams and wishes, too. How else could we possibly survive the chaos!?

The next time you’re stuck eating a soup sandwich, just think of dandelions. You, like your military children, are as amazing as they are. 


  1. I love your wit, Emily! And I like this term ‘soup sandwich’- I really can’t believe I’ve never before heard of it. Some of our most recent days have been a big ol’ soup sandwich, but you’re absolutely right that we’re all dandelions. I love your writing so much!

  2. I love how you tie military life, although at times may not be positive – a very positive thing. I love how resilient, determined, and rooted dandelions are — and so are we.

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