I’ve been a military spouse for a longish (ahem) time. Well, over 25 years, to be exact.
While in some ways it’s gone by in a flash, I will admit that there are moments when I feel like I’ve seen it all, heard it all, have all the t-shirts…and I can honestly become a bit jaded about this whole military spouse thing.
But then I remember you. Yes, YOU, young military spouse!
You, with your energy and your ideas.
You, with your enthusiasm for the newness of military life and your positivity.
You inspire me, make me laugh, and help me remember what this is all about.
While serving together as advisers to the board of a spouses’ group, one of my friends mentioned to me, “Those ladies are so organized and amazing. They could each run their own company!” And it’s true. You sure do keep me on my toes. So, without further fanfare, here are the top five things I’ve learned from younger military spouses:
5. Your energy is contagious!
Not only do you take care of each other, you take care of everyone else.
Is someone sick? The spouses will bring them chicken soup and pick up their kids from school!
Did someone in the military community suffer a hardship? The spouses will organize a fundraiser, bring meals, and help out in any way imaginable.
Now granted, spouses of all ages pitch in on these sorts of things as well, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen mommies with strollers or babies in back carriers passing out drinks at a deployed spouses’ dinner, feeding the airmen living in the dorms, or showing up for “town hall” meetings.
I get tired just watching you. You know what else? You take care of me, too.
When I need pushing out of my comfort zone, a friend to get me out of the house, or just a smile, you’re there. I need you!
4. If you can’t find an opportunity, create one!
When AJ Smit’s husband was at boot camp, she decided to follow one of her own dreams, making a living as a “mermaid.” With a background in performing arts and teaching children, she’s been able to use her talents in a unique way, combining her love of children, performing, and all things mermaid.
She DIDN’T sit around, lonely, hoping for something to happen; she made it happen. And come to find out, she and her husband ended up in Hawaii where she is able to put her skills to good use as a special visitor at parties!
In AJ’s words, “It’s a ‘fintastic’ experience to be a mermaid–seeing kids believe again in the magic of possibilities, encouraging them to use their imagination, even occasionally inspiring adults to do something they love and always dreamed of doing, even if it seems impossible. Shell, I’m a mermaid. Anything’s possible.”
For spouse Lana Simmons, her journey to weight loss and health was personal. However, after reading statistics which showed the high incidence of regaining lost weight, she realized she needed the support of her community.
With the assistance of the base gym and dietitian and other resources, she began a weight loss contest for military spouses and the “Change Your Life” program was born.
Not only did Lana lose 100 pounds herself, she has inspired countless other women, and also started the program at another base! Last year, she completed the “Swamp Romp” race in Hawaii, along with other CYL Participants.
Lana says, “The spouse club gave me a supportive place to nurture and grow my idea and build my own confidence in the program. I know I couldn’t have done this without their support…I’m not sure where else I would have received this kind of support? Definitely not in a work environment; it’s way too competitive. I feel like I am where I am today because of all these different women who came into my life.”
3. Life is exciting!
I’ll admit, by the time we’d hit our THIRD overseas move, I was kind of over it. It’s easy to focus on the inconveniences, yet I figured something out.
Looking around me with the eyes of a brand new military spouse reminds me how exciting this military life can be, and what amazing opportunities we have! Listening to young spouses talk about their first overseas move, culture shock, and their first time truly traveling the world is a good reminder to not to take these things for granted.
2. But it’s hard, sometimes, too.
On the other hand, I can easily forget how difficult that first overseas move, that first deployment, heck…that very first PCS can be!
Looking into the eyes of a young spouse who has just sent her husband off for a year, prods me to compassion. Seeing a young mom raising young children, being a virtual single parent, and attempting to take care of herself, too, takes me immediately back to the exhausting days when I was in the throes of raising little ones and never sure if my husband would even be home for dinner.
After decades of military life, I’ve gotten used to the toughness displayed by military spouses, and it’s easy for me to forget the strength that is required of us every day.
And (drumroll, please!), the top thing I’ve learned from you young military spouses?
1. We’re going to be just fine!
When I hear people moan and decry “the younger generation,” accusing them of self-centeredness and irresponsibility, I just smile. And I remind them what I know to be true.
If they could see what I see–the strength, patriotism, creativity, and enthusiasm that I see displayed every day, they’d have no worries. From the young spouse starting a home business, to the spouse helping her small children cope with their first move, to the one juggling his own career against the demands of the military, you inspire me!
I’m not worried about the future of our armed forces or country. Not a bit. I’m your biggest fan. Because of you, young military spouse, we’re going to be just fine!