I will admit that I spend some quality time on Facebook and the blogosphere. I read all sorts of stuff. Stuff that makes me cringe, stuff that makes me cry, stuff that makes my blood boil, and stuff that puts a smile on my face. I like seeing what my friends and fellow people of the world find interest in, believe, and share. It really lets me see the real people behind the computer.
As many of you may, or may not, know April is the month of the Military Child. As a mother of two military children I love seeing support for those kiddos who can sometimes struggle with this lifestyle. That is what brings me to this post. Not awareness for the military child, but an awareness of the military family.
I am a military spouse, and have been for close to eleven years. I live on and have lived near military bases my entire married life. The majority of my friends, and friends I consider family, are affiliated with the military in some capacity. I have been through deployments, trips, nights alone, dinner without my spouse, seen families dissolve, and all of the above. We, as a family, have moved a half dozen times, lost friends, and made new ones. It’s life. We live it and take it in stride.
I enjoy seeing many blogs or cute little checklists all over the interwebs detailing the military life, I sometimes smile to myself when another spouse writes about something that I, too, found inconvenient about my spouses job. That being said what I cannot stand are the posts about how difficult being a mil spouse is, or how special a mil spouse is as a person. Oh yes. This exists my friends. The blogs and posts that makes you pity the poor soul who has to deal with a spouse whose job is to protect this nation.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear, and rest assured I am going to ruffle some feathers with this one, a military spouse does not serve. It is not the “hardest job in the military”, the spouses sacrifices are not as steep as these posts make it seem.
So let’s hit this on the head. Shall we? Concept One. I do not serve. I did not sign a contract with the government. I do not put on a uniform everyday and selflessly give my time to the United States to protect it’s constitution here and abroad. The way that I see it is simply this. I am a wife to a dude who has a hard job. Boom. That’s it. It is in my opinion that if you, as a military spouse, think you are something special because your spouse wears a uniform then I don’t have time to entertain you. I am sorry.
When I met my husband he was working at a dead end job and 18. I fell in love with him. We got married right after his initial training and have been going strong ever since. Has my support, adoration, and respect for him as a human being changed because his job did? No. No it has not. I love him more today than thirteen years ago because of the man I see he has become. He is generous, caring, funny, and a damn good father. I don’t support him any more or any less because of his career. He is my better half, I would support him if he decided to become an underwater basket weaver instead of a soldier. My support for my spouse is no different than any other spouse’s support. It is not stronger, better, more respectful. It is what it is. A spouse supporting a spouse. Period.
Is being a military spouse the hardest job? When I first got married I thought so. I even had the bumper sticker that said so. But then I grew up and opened my eyes. My husband had to miss pregnancies, birthdays, funerals, weddings, births, medical scares, first steps, first teeth, and first words of not only his own children but his entire family. Me? Well I was there for it all. So who has it harder? While I sat at home missing him and worrying about him while rubbing my growing belly and feeling those first kicks, my spouse was across the world working his ass off, worrying about whatever they have to worry about over there, and worrying about his family. While I worry about him, he is worrying about everything. Did I miss him? Oh hell yeah I did. But, I had my friends and family a phone call away. I had internet that actually worked, and HBO. I could make myself busy and continue living my life as normal as possible. I did not sacrifice anything but time with my husband. In fact, it made our relationship stronger because we had to communicate in different ways, our respect for each other grew because we both found out we can handle some shit.
Do you know how many spouses travel for work? How many work two jobs and are never home, struggling to make ends meet? How many spouses are first responders? What makes a military spouse more special, more deserving of the blogs? It doesn’t. All families sacrifice something.
I used to say that it takes a special kind of person to be a military spouse. But, in truth, it doesn’t. If the love you have for your spouse isn’t strong enough to make it through the suck, then you weren’t cut out to be married to that person. My love for my spouse makes all the “other” that comes with his job worth it.
Back to the military child. Do those kiddos have it hard? Yeah. They do. The moves are rough on them. The parent being gone is rough on them. But when your in this life most of their friends are going through the same stuff. I am open and honest with my kids. They knew when Daddy was in Afghanistan for his work, they know when he is out of town for work and why. They understand when we have to move to a new place and instead of dwelling on the sadness of losing friends, we show them new possibilities. We take life with a positive attitude and always exchange contact information with their friends parents so they kids can video chat. We have an open conversation with our kids, and if they are struggling we talk to a counselor. But our children’s struggles are no more or less severe than any other child’s.
I can’t speak for everyone, just myself, but I don’t want to be treated special or different, and I certainly do not want my kids to be treated special because of who their Dad is. My love for my husband and my children is no stronger, no more stable, no more perfect, and not an ounce more special than anyone else. I do what any spouse would when the other is not there. I try and parent my children without causing to much lasting psychological trauma, I feed them, and I make sure they survive the day. I am not special because I parent when my husband is gone, I am just doing what I have to as a parent. You know who is special? Single parents who do it ALL on their own. Those parents are the ones deserving respect and admiration. My mother became a widow when I was 16. She did it all on her own. My father was sick for a long time, she was the bread winner, she worked a hundred hours a week to ensure I had what I needed. That is admirable. Never once did she leave my dad or me for something better or turn her back on him. That. That right there is who deserving of all the blogs.