I have been a proud military wife for over five years. That’s a short time compared to some, but in that time we’ve been through training, the ‘real world’ of active duty, more deployments than I care to count, and have PCS’d (aka “moved”) three times. My husband grew up in this lifestyle. The only “training” I got was my addiction to the show Army Wives, and even that was wildly non-representative (a TV show being more dramatic and exaggerated than real life? Shocking, I know).
I absolutely love my husband. I have never been so sure about anything in my life as the moment I said “I do.” He always jokes that he’s married to the military first and to me second. And boy, is that ever true. The birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases, milestones, etc. that he’s missed are endless. And only by an absolute miracle was he by my side for the birth of not just one, but both of our children. The constant comings and goings of his deployments and TDY’s (kinda like long-term business trips) have worn divots in my soul. I get whiplash trying to keep up with his ever-changing schedule. Being a solo-mom 90% of the time with no family nearby is draining. And Lord knows how desperately I miss my husband. But even worse is the look on my son’s face when he asks for his Dad and cries when “Daddy can’t home tonight.” And don’t even get me started on all the dangerous aspects of my husband’s job.
Military life is hard.
My husband called me this morning to inform me that instead of being home for the next few months, like we had hoped he would be, the schedule just changed and he would be have to leave in two weeks and be gone for four months, with only days in between his month-long trips. Frustrated and disappointed, I vented to a few friends and cried a few tears as I snuggled my baby boy. But then I took a big breath, bucked-up my bootstraps, and started to mentally prepare how my visions of the next few months needed to change and what support I would need.
I am a planner. It’s my coping mechanism. I always feel better when I know what to expect. But you can’t plan in the military. And even when there is a plan, 9 times out of 10 the plan will change at least three times before said plan gets executed. So, I’ve learned to adapt. I make a plan and change it as it needs to be changed. Which can be utterly exhausting, but for me, it’s a necessity.
Military life is hard.
But as I sit here and write this an image of my husband stares back at me. The picture is of him in uniform at our wedding, wearing a big smile as he waited for me to walk down the aisle. It’s framed by an American flag and the words, “My Hero.” And it reminds me that despite all the heartaches and disappointments and frustrations military life has, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The military isn’t just a job to my husband. It’s his life. It’s my life. And I am bursting with pride for my husband and how he serves our country. It is his honor to serve and it is my honor to stand by his side, even if it’s only in a metaphorical way sometimes.
Military life has given me not only my husband, but a world-wide network of friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It has given me a unique sense of honor and pride. Military life has given me grace and understanding that a life of fluidity demands. It has given me children who will be stronger and more readily able to adapt to change. Military life has given me my family, and even if just for that, I would be forever grateful.
There has never been something that I have loved so dearly and simultaneously hated so much as military life. There is so much pride and honor and patriotism that has become deeply ingrained in my life despite the downfalls and disappointments. And I’m not the only one. Talk to any military spouse and you’ll hear it too. Even if it’s a ‘bad’ day, filled with the frustrating aspects, the pride will show through.
I may be his second wife by default and care for the household solo most of the time, but dang. I love my husband, and I love this life he has given us.