How I’ve Changed from 12 Years of Being Married to the Military
Being a military wife is all about knowing how to wait.
I’m not the same person I was when Alan and I got married 12 years ago. Scratch that. I am exactly the same person, only I am a much more mature person. Well, yeah, I still freak out over stupid stuff and care too much about what I look like and how others view me. I have come so far though!
When we first got married, I was still in my last semester of college. Back then, I was so extremely impatient that it just drove me wild to have to wait more than a couple of days to find out my end of term exam and overall grades. I can remember having almost-panic attacks when the scores weren’t posted as quickly as I thought they should be. Purely ridiculous.
Fast-forward 12 years of military life. When it comes to waiting to find things out, that is just a way of life. Not knowing where I will live a month, a year, or 2 years from now? That’s nothing. We call that Tuesday or Friday, or any other day of the week.
“Hurry up and wait” is a constant theme of the military life.
When Alan went to Iraq the first time, it was 2003, and the War on Terrorism was only beginning. Everyday the message was “Maybe Alan’s unit will leave tomorrow, or maybe they won’t leave for a few more weeks yet.”
“Oh, and by the way, once Alan gets to Iraq, there will be no way to contact you, and we do not know when they will come home. I’m sure we’ll only be there a few months. The whole Gulf War in the 90s was over in a matter of months. This should be too.”
Of course, we believed them. 6 months at the most, absolutely.
Then came the fateful night when I went to choir practice, and the choir director casually mentioned that he’d heard on the news that our boys would not be back for a year. I just burst into tears. It had been on the news before the families were even notified!
There were families in Germany that had it even worse. There were soldiers who landed at their base in Germany, after 12 months of separation, only to be turned right back around and stay in Iraq for 15 total months. I can’t stand the thought of all the children that had gotten all excited to see their daddy or mommy, only to have that promise snatched away, and not see their parent at all. Some of those families even got to see their Soldier, only to have to say good-bye all over again days later. Even worse, some of those service members never made it back.
It was painful. There were so many tears.
This is the life that we have chosen. We are sacrificing a whole lot of comforts in order to protect our nation. Our nation is unique in that we have a 100% volunteer force. I’m proud to be a part of it.
And the disappointment? Well, disappointment is just a part of life, we live in a fallen world, and we all have to learn to deal with it, better sooner than later.
After three long deployments, four births, and 8 military moves, waiting for information or just something I want very much absolutely does not scare me anymore. I’ve grabbed that bull by the horns, and it can’t touch me. That’s just the military life.
“Let it go…..let it go…..”
And you know what? I have come to love the military life. We have gotten to not only sight-see all over the country, but live there. We’ve been able to sort the stereotype fiction from the facts. We’ve walked across the border and bartered in Mexico, we’ve toured the White House, we’ve put our feet into both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, and the people we’ve met–oh the people we’ve met is really the best part of it all.
I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.
After months of not knowing where in the world we will be living, and arriving here without a home, we now have one. It’s not available until August though. Oh well. The bright side is that this means more time to go down to Alabama and visit with my family–my wonderful family. As we speak, my mom and dad are taking care of all four of my boys, and have been doing so for 8 days. Wow! Sounds like I owe them, right? They insist that they just love getting to spend this much time with them. I love you, Mom and Dad!
That is a whole other aspect to the military life: military kids. I remember once hearing a parent at our old school express concern that the welcome committee should not differentiate between military kids and non-military kids because ‘we don’t want the others to feel left out.’ Seriously? Not differentiate? So you don’t think the kid who has changed schools every single year might need a little extra help with anxiety? You don’t think the kid whose daddy is under fire in the mountains of Afghanistan, while his mommy tries to be both mom and dad, could use just a little extra attention?
I think she really meant well, but let’s not overlook a whole community of needs, just to prevent leaving someone out. There are many unique lifestyles in this country, and the military family is certainly one that may need a little extra help from time to time.
I’m so proud of how my children have handled all of these deployments and moves. I think it has made them stronger, more compassionate people. But, oh, how I hope they will never have to see another war time deployment!!!
As we go through this move, I keep wondering if I’m doing enough to ease their anxieties during this long and drawn out cross country move. Thankfully, we have two sets of wonderful parents who have eased my worries. I can sleep easy at night, knowing that my mom and dad are loving and caring for all four of our babies tonight. It is a wonderful feeling– so much better than the mom I heard about yesterday, who at her wit’s end from taking care of all her children while staying in a hotel room, finally signed for a house well below her pay grade, just to have a house to live in.
The waiting is going to pay off for all of us. We have signed for a house!
I regret that the boys are having to wait so long to see their new home, but that was just how it worked out this time. We are so fortunate that the military has a community here for us to live in, where we will be surrounded by other military families, much like ourselves.
Our new place looks almost exactly like this one. I’m really sad about the lack of backyard, but I’m loving the balcony! But that’s the beauty of the military life: It’s really just for a couple of years, and then it’s on to the next adventure!