1. Don't tell us to "call if you need anything!"We are strong, independent women who feel like we need to be able to do it on our own. It's awkward and hard to ask for help--really. So when you make comments like this one, we automatically brush it aside. I remember during deployment there were times that people just DID something for me without asking me and I loved that. Or they would ask if they could help in a specific way (mowing, fixing something, babysitting, etc). Or make specific lunch plans. Those were the moments that I felt supported and surrounded by my community. Of course it depends on the spouse, but puuuuhlease, don't make generic statements like "call if you need something." K, thanks.
2. We get lonely.We've been a military family for roughly nine and a half years. I've made friends, even military friends, most places we've lived. But there's still a loneliness that I think is just a normal part of this life. A lot of times, that loneliness stems from the fact that most of the people in your life just don't "get" what you're going through. They don't understand the concept of long separations being the norm, or even multiple short separations. They don't understand what it's like to have your phone at your side 99.9% of the time and the one time you forget, you miss that all-important phone call. It's just a different way of life that civilian families don't understand.
Okay, so I know I said you can't necessarily understand our life, but you're still an incredibly important part. We NEED people to talk to so we don't completely lose it. (Of course this can vary depending on personalities and such.) We need to know that we have people supporting us, just as much as our soldier/airman/sailor/etc. I know it might be hard when you can't relate, but even just a listening ear or spending time with us is so important. So please, be our friend--especially when our spouse is away.
3. Your time is a gift.
4. We get tired of parenting (alone).Let's just face it--parenting is a tough gig, even with two people doing it. Take a family that normally consists of two parents, pull out half of that equation, and you get one person who is eventually going to get overwhelmed. It's just a lot, especially when you're used to having help. Please know that we love our kiddos, even if it may not look like it. :)
This one is BIG, you guys. I have lost count of the number of people who've said to me, "Oh wow, I'm so glad you are so strong to be able to do that lifestyle. I couldn't handle that!" The truth is, I didn't wake up one day and realize that I was perfectly equipped to be a military spouse. I didn't even like the idea at first. And even after I was married, I would frequently sit in a puddle of tears and just be sad until he came home.
5. We are not superhuman.
The truth is, we love our husbands just as much as you love yours. And we're sad when they leave just as much as you'd be. The only difference between us and any civilian family is that we have learned to cope with separation. We have learned how to deal with the challenges that come with military life. So no, we're not some unfeeling, super-strong, super-capable spouses who barely notice their significant other is away. We feel it, but we also know that we've gotta keep living.
Have you ever seen a homecoming on a movie or on the news? It's magical, right? Everybody is beaming and excited and the tears flow freely as hugs are exchanged.
6. This life is not glamorous.
Can I tell you a little secret though? There's a whole lot of "messy" stuff that surrounds that sweet moment. There's the actual deployment prior, in which so many important moments are missed--birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's, and so much more. My husband missed our daughter's first birthday. You can never get those moments back. There are all the conversations you never have because you're tired and you don't think about it. Then there are the post-deployment hurdles--figuring out how to be a family again, who does what, who is "in charge," parenting, discipline, and so much more. There is so much hard stuff that happens behind the scenes that you'll never see on a homecoming video. So yes, homecomings are incredibly sweet and wonderful, but they represent only a fraction of our world.
7. Plans constantly change.We learn to pencil everything on our calendars, because nothing is definite. I don't take any training timeline as definite until he is physically on the bus/plane or physically home. Plans change constantly and we have to learn how to roll with it. So yeah, if we can't give you a definite answer on something, please understand it's not how we want it to be, but it's the way our life is.
I touched on this a little bit in point #6, but it's worth re-mentioning. Military marriage faces some of the toughest odds. I mean really--take two people who've cohabited for the past (x) number of years, separate them for a year and see what happens. We grow apart. We learn to live without each other. As a wife, I have become very independent because military life demands it. The separations, the constant changes, the difficulties of communication--they all take their toll.
8. Military marriage is hard.
8. Military marriage is hard.
9. Sometimes we're okay.There are times when separation is particularly hard and there are also times when we're doing okay. Being okay doesn't mean we don't love or miss our spouses, it just means we have learned ways to keep our head focused on the end goal, when our spouse comes home.
10. We need you.I wish I could shout this from the rooftops. Even though you may not always "get" military life and you may not see all the "stuff" we're dealing with, WE NEED YOU. We need to know someone has our back. We spend our lives supporting our spouses in their career and it can be exhausting and overwhelming. Just knowing that someone sees and cares about things on the homefront is so important and truly can make all the difference. We need people in our circle who we can vent to, who care, and who support us.
Thank you to all of those in my life who have cared, invested and prayed over our family through every separation and our deployment. Some days, you guys are the reason why I don't lose it completely. You are amazing. Thank you.