War Stories: A Newcomer to Motherhood - Y Magazine
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BYU Today

War Stories: A Newcomer to Motherhood

Keith W. Newcomer, ’03, has been correcting his daughter for months now, but she still calls him “Mommy.”

His wife, Charlotte Trout Newcomer, ’03, was deployed in February 2003 with her Army reserves unit, leaving behind her husband and 1-year-old daughter, Jennifer Elizabeth.

“Now she thinks I’m the mommy. But when we went to Colorado, she called Charlotte ‘Mommy,’ and then she called me ‘Daddy.’ So I guess I’m just the interim mommy.”

Charlotte is currently stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., providing supplies for soldiers leaving for the Middle East. She doesn’t know when her turn to go overseas may come, but she anticipates at least one year of active duty.

When she received an e-mail in February commanding her to report to base in eight hours, Charlotte had just enough time to discontinue her classes at BYU.

As Keith juggles part-time work as an autistic child’s tutor and his own classes, he appreciates that most dads don’t have the opportunity to be the primary caregiver. “I think I’ve gained a broader perspective by taking care of our child all day and doing all the housework. I have a new respect for mothers—especially single moms.”

Babies aren’t unusual at BYU, but single fathers are. In Charlotte’s absence, Keith has learned one helpful trick: he puts a baby monitor inside his classroom, then stands outside with Jennifer listening to the lecture on the receiver.

“I’ve really had to adjust my lifestyle. Charlotte and I used to go out and eat together; now Jennifer and I hang out at McDonald’s Playland. But hey, it’s cheaper!” says Newcomer.

More information can be found at more.byu.edu/warstories.