My husband is a Sergeant in the Army. He misses out on a lot because of that, as do most in the military. This year he is missing out on taking our daughter trick-or-treating for the first time. It’s never fun when duty calls and he is sent away, but I think after almost seven years in the military he is getting used to it.
I didn’t mind as much when it was just the two of us, but now that we have an almost 2 year old, I get a little upset. The ideal thing would be to make sure we have plenty of notice to plan ahead but as military spouses know, that almost never happens. We have to be ready to take charge and run the house alone at any time.
Luckily for us, I have been able to stay home with our daughter for the last year and a half. It has made adjusting to having a new baby easier and also helped when my husband came home from deployment. Now that he has a job with no deployments, I started entertaining the idea of going back to work. I registered for job fairs and handed out resumes. I started to get really excited about getting back into the workforce! Let’s face it… as much as we love our little ones, we all need a break at some point.
But then I noticed that my husband was a little less excited about me working again. He started telling about trips he could be called to go on at any time, a two-month school he will have to attend, our step-son coming to spend the summer with us, and family visits in between it all. The only way I was going back to work was if I found a job where I was off before 6 every day, able to take a lot of vacation time in the first year, and paid enough to justify placing two children in daycare full time. Since I don’t have my degree yet and I am not a super star, I decided that working was out of the question.
I admit at first I was pretty bummed. But the whole thing really got me thinking about how much we as spouses sometimes give up in order to support our service members. We not only leave home and follow them all over the world, we are often times forced to put whatever plans we had for ourselves on hold. Our main priority becomes being there for our children and spouse.
Yes, I know children do grow up eventually and begin to need us less and less, but it doesn’t work the same for our spouses. It seems to me that as time goes by our spouses need us more and more… especially when they are faced with rapid deployments. As time goes on, their whole lives become the military. It becomes very important to them that we are there not just emotionally, but physically as well. Sure, I could probably get a night job or take weekend classes… but those are the only times my husband gets to spend time with me. After already having to spend so much time apart, I get why that is so important to him.
I also see how that can make some of us resentful toward them and the military. I know a lot of spouses who have blame the military for their problems at home. However, I can’t even begin to image how that must make the service member feel. They already have to sacrifice so much for their country and their families, and I am sure they feel extremely guilty for having to put us second as it is.
But that’s just the way it is.
They chose a career in the military and took on the responsibilities and challenges that come along with it.
Just like we chose to marry them and be by their side through it all.
I remember seeing something very sad just before my husband’s last deployment. We were attending an FRG to discuss the training schedules before they would leave, and those schedules were extremely full. I guess it was safe to say their deployment started way before they left us. They had also been extremely busy before this meeting was even held. The commanders were attempting to explain how this wasn’t set in stone and that everything was subject to change.
That’s when one spouse began getting angry with them. She went on and on about how we only have so much time before they leave and that this should be time they spent with their families. She eventually stood up and began screaming at the commanders before she turned around and stomped out of the meeting.
I was in shock.
My husband just kept talking about how that soldier was going to be in a lot of trouble for what his wife did. I had only been married to my husband for a year when this happened, but I remember deciding right then and there that I would never behave that way. I can only image what this soldier had to deal with at home… having to justify working late, and constantly apologizing to keep the peace.
Don’t get me wrong. I do completely understand her frustration. We all do, I am sure. None of us enjoy having our spouses work late and go to the field for weeks at a time right before a year-long deployment. But we have to find a great support system, learn all we can, and be stronger than the frustration. Our spouses need us to be. They need to know that no matter what situation they are thrown into, we will be able to handle it with class and support them.
I am starting to see that it takes an extremely strong and selfless person to be a military spouse. And that it’s not done for any kind of recognition from the public, but for our amazing servicemembers we love so dearly. I have accepted that it may be years before I can start working toward my career, and I can be okay with that because I know that once it’s my turn, my husband will be right there supporting me…just like I have proudly done for him.