Dear Civilian wife,
Well, I use that term loosely, since really, I’m a civilian too, just married to a military man. The past couple weeks, since FULL MEASURES released, a phrase I’ve heard often has been “I could never be a military wife.”
Let me tell you – yes, you could.
Our way of life may be a little different from what you’re used to, but we are not as different as you think. This morning, my husband ran to the store before the sun rose because we ran out of milk (a travesty in this house), and we put our children on the bus. I went to see a friend and snuggled her new baby, came home, kissed my husband, and sent him off to work before I put our daughter down for her nap. Perhaps the only thing different in your world is that my husband left in his multicam uniform.
Sure, this might be an atypical day for us, because he’s here, but I promise we are not so different from you.
We have been married almost twelve years, and have a gaggle of kids, just like a ton of other people.
We own our home, and dread the day we have to sell it, pretty normal, right?
Said house desperately needs the banister tightened, and I would kill for some new kitchen cabinets. Oh, you too?
We get worried that our kids aren’t in the best schools, and sometimes my alarm doesn’t go off in time and their lunches resemble a trough of “whats leftover in the frig.” Yup.
We never have enough time. Between juggling kids, jobs, school obligations, sports… oh you get the picture. Sound familiar?
We try our best to get away for a family vacation as often as possible, but sometimes the money just isn’t there.
We have to budget our money carefully, just like you, and make tough decisions about where it goes, and what we can (and most of the time cannot) do.
We wake up every day, we love our husbands, try to be the best mothers we can, and live our lives, just like you.
Sure, there are differences in our lives. The biggest? Our husbands go to war. Maybe during that year of deployment, we look vastly different. But we’re still not. We’re lonely, just like the wife of an off-shore oil rig worker. We worry about a devastating knock at the door, just like the wife of any first-responder. We struggle with trying to raise our kids when we’re the only physical parent in the house, just like any woman who’s parenting for two. We pack up crazy care packages just like… okay, maybe that’s a little unique, but I’m sure there are others who do this.
And some days are just… well, normal.
So what’s so different? We have all those aspects rolled into one life: the loneliness, the worry, the sole-physical-parenting, and yeah… sometimes it sucks. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t handle it if you had to. You could.
During those times when he’s gone, so far away that our souls ache from the void they’ve left in the house, we’re not looking for sympathy. We don’t need it. Please don’t think, “I could never do that,” because you could if you had to. We didn’t choose to be military wives – we chose to love our husbands, and sometimes the two go hand-in-hand. We’re not looking for pitiful glances when we tell you it’s their fourth deployment, but we wouldn’t argue with a shared bottle of wine. 😉 If we could ask one thing, it would simply be for you to appreciate the everyday freedoms our nation provides us with, and for you to hold your husband a little tighter tonight, because we can’t.
We knew when we took his last name, that while our husbands would be the most dependable men in the United States, they would be so for everyone but us. Therein lies the difference. We knew it, we accept it, and we love them, sometimes in spite of it, and some times because of it. But we’re not “special” in that choice either. Tons of women make it. The wife of a firefighter knows he won’t be at every baseball game, as does the wife of a sales exec who needs to go out of town. Sure, it may happen to us a bit more than average, but we’re powering through just like you, and just like you would if you were us.
But don’t you for one minute sell yourself short and say you couldn’t do this, because you could if you had to. Don’t get me wrong. None of us want to do this. We all want our husbands home at night, safe in our beds, playing catch with our kids and lacing up skates. We crave “normalcy,” and count down the days until they retire. That being said, we do it because we love them; we’re devoted to them the same way you are to your husband. If that devotion required that you spend a year apart and worry for his safety, well, I bet you would too.
The only difference between us is the jobs our husbands have, and just like your husband’s job doesn’t define you, well, our husbands’ job doesn’t really define us. We are stay at home moms, doctors, lawyers, sales people, authors, students… oh, you get the point… anyway, we have the same careers you do. Our lifestyles may be different, but we are remarkably similar in everything else that matters. We’re just wives and moms.
Sure, I hear all the time that military wives are a special breed. Truthfully, I’ve never known as much love and support as I have in the hearts of other milspouses. On the other hand, I’ve also also met a few bullies. Military spouses are made up of the same population as the rest of the planet: some spouses are awesome, and some are mean. There’s no cookie-cutter milspouse. One common trait I’ve seen among spouses? Strength. We all seem to have that one. However, we weren’t born this way, tracking down the first pair of jingling dog tags to make us a military wife. We did what you did – we fell in love. Take a look at your husband. Now honestly tell me that you couldn’t live our life. If this was his path, his career, would you really walk away from him over it? We won’t. We didn’t, and that choice has hardened us, sharpened us, sometimes wrecked us and built us back up again. If we look different to you, which we’re really not, it’s only because these years have cut us with different facets, but trust me – you could have handled this if your life called for it.
So the next time you think, “there’s no way I could do that…” Please believe me, you could if you had to. Never doubt the strength you can call up when life demands it. Your strengths may be different than ours, but they’re just as valuable, just as necessary. We aren’t that different.
I guess I should go figure out what I’m making for dinner. You too? Let me know what you decide, I’m always up for a new recipe.
Oh, and go kiss your husband… some of us are waiting months to do the same, and we think at least someone should be getting kissed. Besides, kisses rock, and the world needs more of them. We’ll catch up once there are boots in our entry hall again.