This life, it’s exactly what I chose, yet not at all what I thought it would be.
When I signed on to be a military spouse, I thought if anyone could do this, it would be me. I am level headed, strong, disciplined, can manage being alone (just kidding I make friends with everyone), am good at rolling up my sleeves and getting things done, and can make the best out of any situation. What could possibly go wrong? How could this life ever suck? It’s a life of travel, living near a beach, being married to the man of my dreams, and all the adventure I could ever muster!
I have realized my naivety in those early days and can acknowledge where I have grown and become wiser. With each station we travel through, I encounter new and different obstacles. I have met those obstacles with beauty and grace but I have also buckled under the weight of this life—think ugly crying in a small space in your home. But as time rolls on I have learned to allow myself some room to breathe, forgive myself, and acknowledge my pitfalls and my strengths.
So let me be clear. NO ONE is cut out for this life (read it again).
The MILITARY created a military spouse. Really. Military families were not acknowledged in policy until recently. There have been various periods in our military history ranging from antebellum to the World Wars to our current circumstances in the Middle East. In earlier periods, spouses served a role of helping the wounded, cooking, and doing the laundry. Spouses, mostly officer wives (in the early days), would travel with their husbands to the battlefields at their own expense. There was no housing, per diem, commissary, or schools.
Eventually, as time wore on, Washington D.C. provided rental allowances and travel pay for officers only. In 1942, congress passed a bill called the “Dependents Allowance” the bill acknowledged that military families are the responsibility of the government and from that time period on, Congress said “Let There be a Military Spouse.”
I bring up the past so that we can understand the culture of a military spouse. It helps us understand why and how we tick, the societal and cultural norms placed on the military spouse, and how easily we can feel like failures for not living up to these expectations.
In those early days, military spouses stepped up. They did all the laundry for strangers (I barely do that for my family), they taught the children that made the trek to be near dad– in a dysentery bullet riddled place– because there was no DoD school. They cooked, they cleaned, they maintained battalions, they sewed (both clothes and wounds) and they did it all while knowing they do not come first.