And before you write me off as a wishful thinking, naïve young wife, know that I have been a military spouse for over 25 years and have lived all over the world. I’ve worked, been an at-home mom, and volunteered in both the military and civilian communities. I’ve seen a thing or two or three.
So why did that article, this discussion of stereotypes overall, make me uncomfortable?
Because apparently, while I would dearly like to believe that we’re beyond all this, we continue stereotyping. And, personally speaking, maybe it’s an uncomfortable reminder that I’m still a work in progress.
We are not as accepting of each other as I’d hoped.
As much as we repeat, “We’re all spouses,” do I actually believe it? When I see a spouse out in her jammie pants at the commissary, am I quick to label her as unkempt or lazy, or do I instead consider that she may be doing a quick run for formula after a broken night of sleep with her newborn? When my neighbor is withdrawn, do I check on her to see if all is well or do I gossip and speculate? What other ways do I neatly categorize other spouses and dust my hands off: career moms, stay-at-home-moms, enlisted, officer, active duty…Yes, human nature dictates that we all do this to some extent. But the moment I only see a label and not a person? That’s a problem.
But this is not who we are.
And we can do so much better. For those of you who have been treated badly by military spouses, I am so deeply sorry that happened to you. Because that is not our best selves, and it was wrong. For spouses who have nothing better to do than tear down and talk disparagingly about each other, I would suggest you get a life. Or perhaps a hobby. I’ve heard knitting is soothing. Or maybe volunteer-there is a whole community out there who could use your time and energy. Perspective is a wonderful thing.