There was a time not too long ago when our military knew nothing but back to back deployments. Your service member would be gone for 12 months, home for 12 months, rinse and repeat.
It was during the time that we waged war on two fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was not uncommon to have your spouse’s deployment extended, or to have your home being packed up before they even landed back on US soil in prep for the next PCS and a deployment that would follow.
For spouses that “grew up” during this timeframe, we learned how to be and do everything. Google and YouTube videos saved the day when we needed to trouble shoot a car problem, fix a leak, or install a new washer while our service members were at war. We learned how to match paint samples like Bob Ross, fix a shelf like Bob Vila, and drive our minivan like Richard Petty to get our kids to all the practices.
As time went on, and we became more worn down, we also became the generation that did not know how to ask for help, or how to identify what we needed help with. For so long we were so used to doing everything ourselves that we did not know how to accept the help we so needed. However, we were always the ones who were quick to offer help to everyone else. Afterall, we learned how to make resources stretch thin, be in two places at once, and cook dinner while coaching you through the birth of a child as your husband skyped in.
After being a military spouse for almost 15 years now, I will tell you the biggest piece of advice I can.
You need someone.
Call it a tribe, a circle, a village, a community. Whatever you call it, you need one. It does not have to roll deep and wide like the ocean, but you need someone that you can lean on. That person or group that you could call at 3am to come watch a child for an ER run. Someone who comes over and starts picking up the dirty socks strewn throughout the living room because they know your week has sucked and you need a break. A someone who puts a casserole in your freezer, grabs you Pepto-Bismol and Pedialyte and dig dong ditches you to drop it off.
After struggling through the first half of our military life as I tried to do it all myself, I slowly started to see the importance of having that squad that you can call on when needed. During our time at Fort Hood when my husband and I became geographically separated by PCS orders, my team stepped in and planned numerous play dates for my boys so I could have a little break. At Camp Atterbury my neighbors became my lifeline (almost literally) as they watched my two children during two of those ER runs. Then at Fort Leavenworth my circle would step to help pick kids up from school, drop me off and pick me up from airports, and just come grab the kids to play at the neighborhood park. When we arrived to Fort Eustis, my crew would step in big time during my husband’s deployment with dropping off a meal, watching the kids to allow me time to get my nails done, planning an “extended” family dinner to include my family, and even to help shuffle bedrooms around to make sleeping arrangements for the kids more bearable.
Yes, you can do this military life journey alone. And I can promise you that it will be hard and miserable. Or you could find that one person you can lean on when needed. Find that group at your location who can be your people. Like I said before, it does not have to be rolling like the Brady Bunch, the Avengers or even Taylor Swift’s Squad, but I am telling you that this life journey will be much more enjoyable when you have your life support in place.