For decades, military spouses have struggled to explain the lifestyle to civilian friends and family.
“When are you moving?”
“Do you know when your spouse will be home?”
“Where are you moving to?”
“What is next for you guys?”
The answer on all accounts? “I don’t know.”
Military spouses have lived with this uncertainty for many generations, but as the rest of the world gripped and braced for the impacts of a global pandemic, everything felt new. Here’s how 2020 showed the world what it’s like to be a military family:
Life isn’t following “the plan”
Let’s face it – 2020 did not pan out how any of us imagined. Vacations were cancelled, much of the workforce shifted from cubicles to kitchen tables, and kids began attending school from home. For military spouses, who face unpredictable schedules and uncertainty routinely, this felt very normal.
Not having a spouse present for the birth of a child
Early on in the pandemic, many civilian spouses faced attending appointments and even giving birth alone as coronavirus surged across the nation. This is a barrier military spouses have faced for years and while not ideal, many credit technology for stepping in.
“At first I was scared our family was being robbed of one of the most special moments of our lives,” Jenny Byers, a U.S. Navy spouse, said on giving birth alone while her husband, PJ, was deployed. “But I was wrong. That moment was still just as special, but in a way I wasn’t expecting. Thanks to modern day technology, we got to meet our son together.”
Celebrating holidays without family
As the world began shutting down this spring and safety guidelines have continued to evolve, one of the top-line recommendations has remained — do not gather in a closed space with those that do not live in the immediate household. Families who normally gather to celebrate were left wondering “What does a holiday spent alone look like?”
“Being away from my family at the holidays, while hard, has given me the opportunity to make new traditions that I can make with my husband and now our two sons,” Julie Yaste, a U.S. Navy spouse, said. “It makes it more special in the long run for us to have an experience that reinforces our nuclear family.”
Uncertainty about the future
There is a running joke amongst military families that the only sure bet of this lifestyle is uncertainty. As the rest of the world grappled with not knowing what came next and watched as well-laid plans crumbled, many military families felt right at home.
“My husband and I always joke that the only definite in military life is change,” Maxine Clegg, an Air Force spouse, told Military Spouse. “Because his schedule is always changing, there’s always a move on the horizon, or a deployment coming, we’ve learned to just roll with the punches and be ready for whatever comes next. It has taught me to have Plan B through Z ready, and sometimes things not going as expected work out even better.”