I Learned to Be a Resilient Spouse Through the Trees

Warning: I’m about to geek out on you.

I love trees. (Stay with me one this…I AM going to work this back around to talk about PCSing!!)

Trees are some of Nature’s most beautiful works of art! With the changing of seasons, their leaves effortlessly morph from friendly green to bright orange to fiery red and golden yellow before turning dark and crisp. That’s when the leaves fall to the ground in a peaceful, dry rain.

The beauty isn’t even lost once the trees are barren. The twisty, majestic branches, like arms, reaching out to the heavens amaze me.

Our California house was a lovely home built next to other lovely homes, but sadly there were no mature trees. Each house got a matching baby tree in the front yard and that was it. These skinny, pitiful little trees were merely held up with rope and sticks. I craved a backyard view of big, strong trees.

My husband’s monitor must have heard about my tree obsession, because out of nowhere we received surprise PCS orders to the opposite coast. These orders messed up all my plans and came stock with an immediate “Dumb D” (deployment), but I was determined to go into it with a positive attitude.

Yes, we were leaving a state with the perfect year round climate for a state that is hot, muggy and buggy. Sure, we had exactly zero friends waiting there for us. And of course I would quickly find myself solo parenting (again.) But now?

We could, and did, find a property with TREES!

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my wish for trees should have included a disclaimer about the pine variety. Anyone with pine trees probably knows where I’m headed with this.

I hate our trees! I am drowning in pine straw. I am drowning in snot from allergies. I feel like screaming when I see PINE CONES FOR SALE at the store! Seriously?

I know that sounds silly and you’re probably wondering how this weird talk about trees ties into military life and PCSing. Here’s the deal:

When orders are cut, we almost always have preconceived ideas about what the new place will be like. We research the heck out of the place and “like” all the local pages and spouse groups on Facebook so we don’t miss a thing. We head there thinking we know exactly what it will be like.

Sometimes though, that new place disappoints, and that’s okay.

I think it’s important to attempt optimism in this lifestyle but sometimes even the most adventurous, positive person will wake up in the new place and wonder where the heck they are.

Like a tree with branches twisting out in every direction, striving to see if there is something more, we can look around pondering if there is something more for us. With every new duty station I pray I’ll be able to bloom where I’m freshly planted but I wonder if that’s always possible.

Our roots don’t get to grow very deep. Sometimes the soil we’re given doesn’t seem rich or fertile. We weather extreme storms like back-to-back deployments and raising our kids without our partner’s physical presence.

Trees don’t always survive transplants and yet despite the odds against us, the ever-resilient military spouses {almost} always do.

Another PCS season is upon us. I truly hope every military family with orders in hand finds their new duty station as charming as can be. As you charge out of the gates of one base and head to another, I caution you to be realistic in your expectations and be prepared for some disappointments. Just because you see beauty in your new surroundings doesn’t mean you won’t get conked on the noggin with a giant pine cone.

Have you ever been disappointed with a duty station? Did you ever begin a PCS with optimism and excitement and then have it end with disappointment?

My PCS Identity Crisis

-C. Joy, USMC spouse

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