So, after 10 years of being with a military man, I’ve pretty much seen, or been through it all. At least from my perspective. I’ve been blessed that while we’ve had our share of trials, I’m lucky that I have my husband alive and well. I know that others do not.
But I will say that I have identified my trigger phrase. Yes, the one thing that if you say it, I would like to immediately slap you upside the head. Are you ready? Here it is: “You knew what you were getting into.” Really? Did you really just say that to me? Personally, I don’t know a single military wife (and I know a few), who “knew what they were getting into.” Even if we thought we knew, we really didn’t. Do you think anyone in their right mind would willingly sign up for this? I’ve heard this from quite a few people in my military-wifehood and I’d like to say SHUT UP. Until you handle all this, SHUT UP.
I am the daughter of not one, but two army officers. I grew up with this life. Kind of. We moved all of the time until I was 12, when my parents retired. My parents love to tell me how they taught me how to say, “my daddy is TDY in Washington D.C.” when I was three. I can still remember sitting on my mom’s lap when she told me that she had been asked to go to Desert Storm. But still, I didn’t know what I was “getting into.” It was a different army then. A different world then.
When I fell in love with my soldier, 9/11 hadn’t happened yet. The worst part of the army I saw until that day was a 30 day rotation at NTC. Really. I never pictured year-long deployments, or 7 a.m. phone calls from the Rear D with bad news. I never pictured PCS’ing with my four little boys alone to a place thousands of miles from my family. But I do it. And it’s certainly not for the free “stellar” healthcare. I do it because I love my husband. Plain & Simple.
So as military wives, what do we know? We know that first smile that leads to us giving out a phone number. We know that first kiss which leads to love, and vows, rings, and eventual motherhood. We fell in love with the man, certainly not the lifestyle. I don’t know any military wife who pulls the officer & a gentleman’s “I want to live the life of the wife of a naval aviator!!!!” Really, how well did that work for you? All we did was fall in love with a man who wears a uniform, and now we’re making the best of it. Because the moments we have them home and in our arms make it worth it.
It’s not whining, but even if was, we’re entitled. We don’t have to handle every stressful moment with a smile just because you say so. We don’t have to meet every challange without letting a swear word slip, or subscribe to someone’s prefabricated expectations of the perfect military wife. We get to be angry, and lonely, and sad. We get to curse our husbands and the life we chose as we fix the washing machine by ourselves. We’re allowed to hate the army for the one moment when we watch our babies walk towards a net cam to show daddy their first steps. We don’t have to be happy all the time, and you’re naive and cruel if you think we do. Are you happy and perky every minute of every day? If so, fork over whatever you’re taking. It’s not nice not to share.
Most of the time, I’m a good girl. I can handle it and keep going. Most of the time I sit through choir concerts alone, I put the boys to bed alone, and I PCS alone. Twice. Because it’s the price I pay for getting to love this amazing man. I’ll do just about anything, endure anything to make it easier for him; to be what he wants and needs me to be.
I’m not saying that I don’t love this life. It has its perks, like a sexy husband in a fantastic flight suit. I’m honored to be a military family and have the opportunity to support my husband and this country. I’m just saying that when I have a moment, or a week of moments, hitting me with “you knew what you were getting into” is like kicking a puppy. It doesn’t make you a bigger person to kick me when I’m down. Just try a little understanding. Every military wife has a different circumstance, and even we can ‘t fully comprehend what the others are going through. Just try an open ear and a little compassion. It will work miracles.