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Military mom’s first Mother’s Day

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley Dudley, a pass and identification clerk assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, sits and plays with her daughter at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., May 4, 2018. Dudley and her 8-month old daughter, Adelina Dudley, will be celebrating their first Mother’s Day this year; they plan to eat brunch as a family and spend quality time together. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Taylor Phifer)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley Dudley, a pass and identification clerk assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, sits and plays with her daughter at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., May 4, 2018. Dudley and her 8-month old daughter, Adelina Dudley, will be celebrating their first Mother’s Day this year; they plan to eat brunch as a family and spend quality time together. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Taylor Phifer)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Mother’s Day: A day dedicated to celebrate and honor mothers everywhere, to thank them for their unconditional love and constant support, to show appreciation for everything they do all year long. It is a day to say, “Mom, I love you.”

This year, Mother’s Day has taken on a whole new meaning for one Air Force senior airman.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ashley Dudley, a pass and ID clerk assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, will be celebrating her first Mother’s Day as a mom with her 8-month-old daughter, Adelina.

“To me Mother’s Day is the celebration of the gift of motherhood, honoring those who have loved, cared, sacrificed, supported and raised us to be who we are today,” Dudley said. “It's a day to appreciate our mothers and reflect on all the good things they have done for us.”

Growing up, Dudley celebrated Mother’s Day by giving her mother a gift and spending the entire day with her. Now being a new parent and away from her hometown, Arlington, Virginia, Dudley plans to call her mother and also send her a nice gift from the family.

“I feel very proud and blessed at the same time to see my daughter experiencing motherhood,” said Ruth Copia, Dudley’s mother who currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia. “To me, motherhood is seeing the profound value in learning who your children are, teaching them along the way and giving them all your love.”

Dudley said she has always felt like she was meant to be a mother and when her baby was born there was an instant bond like no other.

“As a child I always asked and begged for baby dolls, and when I played house with my friends I was always the mom,” Dudley remembered. “After having Adelina and becoming a mother, my life changed, but it’s amazing and I can’t imagine life without her now.”

Being an active-duty security forces member keeps her busy.

“It’s definitely not easy being a mom while also being in the military,” Dudley said. “I work until 5 p.m., then go home to take care of Adelina and somewhere in there I try to find time to study for my college classes.”

Although Dudley and her husband, Staff Sgt. Tyler Dudley who also is a member of the 509th Security Forces Squadron, have the possibility of working different shifts or even deploying at the same time, the couple do their best for the family.

“It’s hard at times and definitely a balancing act,” she said. “But, it’s all worth it for my family and to help Adelina have the best life.”

Looking at her baby girl dressed in a bright yellow shirt that reads “Tiny Happy Human,” Dudley couldn’t help but smile and kiss Adelina’s little hands.

“She looks so much like her dad and I see some of me in her too, and it’s crazy to think I helped create this tiny human,” Dudley said “Right now she can say ‘dad,’ so if Adelina said ‘mom’ this Mother’s Day that would fill my heart with so much happiness.”