Monday, July 15, 2013

Military wives

I recently read an excerpt from a military wife that spoke to me. I wrote a post last week detailing the difficulties I've been having with the hellos and good byes of moving so frequently. Many people were very supportive, but I felt that some people just didn't quite understand.  I felt that they thought I would being "cocky" to say that I felt my challenges were unique to me.

I don't feel that way at all. Especially because I am most likely not a "lifer", I do not feel any extreme attachment to military life or being a military wife. I most likely won't be a military wife in the near future.

But I will still feel like what they do is hard. It is special. It is unique. 

I do think that being a military wife is different. That doesn't mean there aren't civilian wives who feel the way that I do or deal with the same things. That isn't to say that being a missionary wife isn't harder. It very well may be. 

It just means that, in general, I think being in the military has a set of challenges that are unique to that life and difficult in their own ways.

This woman was responding to a man who had written on a military page: “I am a soldier and I have to say I don’t know why everyone acts like being a military wife is special. You are just a wife.” 
Here is what she wrote. I nearly teared up many times reading this. 

"Maybe you’re right. Maybe I am just a wife. I do clean the house and mop the floors but can’t promise that these will be the same floors I’ll be cleaning next year, next season or even two months from now. I grocery shop but I may do it in silence because I haven’t lived here long enough to run into people I know. If I do see a friend in the cereal aisle, that probably means we’ll be PCSing soon. Just like any other wife, I tend to the garden and water the flowers. No matter how hard I try though, I cannot plant roots. Like any wife, I buy furniture for my house but I pick the sturdy, solid pieces over the irreplaceable antiques. I need something that will last through being packed up and shipped off again and again and again. Just like any wife, I know how I want my home decorated but getting that pie safe and wooden bench would bring us too close to our weight limit. Just like any other wife, I have a group of friends who I can count on. I know that in one year’s time, we’ll all be scattered around the world and I’ll once again begin the great challenge of being loved and lonely at the same time. I worry about my children choosing the right friends and when they do, I pray that they form life-long friendships even though we have to move every few years."

The parts in bold really spoke to me. They really said how I felt. 

My friend Tara left a comment on that page that really explained my concerns for my children. She was not a military child exactly, but her parents were involved in government work that required them to move a lot. Tara wrote:

"While we were not "military," I lived the live of a foreign-service brat. Moving every 3 years while growing up was incredibly tough, and tough at the time for a late elementary school child and middle schooler. I have to admit that, at times, I hated the life that my parents chose for me. I've also moved every 3-4 years since, albeit not for military reasons. I am definitely introverted and have always been a bit cautious about new friendships, but know that you hold onto the really good people from wherever you are in life. No matter how/why you are moving, it's tough, but it really is something you, and your kids, will appreciate much, much later."

I totally agree Tara. I think that this life does offer a lot. I'm glad to have this experience and this opportunity. But that doesn't mean that it is easy. It also doesn't mean that I may feel able to do it for the long haul. 


Anonymous said...

While I completely understand your point, it is not the same for everyone. I think you are just the type person who needs those roots. You crave the close extended family ties, the familiarity, the comfort of knowing where you will be in the future, the security of knowing people, places, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. People are just different. That's what makes the world so wonderful! I, on the other hand, LOVE the unfamiliar! The excitement of discovering new people, new places, etc. I was a military brat, and moved approximately every two years. I never remember resenting it. In fact, I went to 4 different high schools, 3 in my junior year alone! I also believe that the military life makes family ties (at least with your immediate family) so much tighter! Even while moving from place to place, they never leave you!

Dana said...

I am a military brat. My dad was a career Navy man, we moved a lot from the day I was born to the day I left for college. I met and married my best friend in college and we have lived within 10 miles of our alma mater for almost 20 years. My kids pass the hospital they were born in everyday. Of course, I wasn't always a fan of moving when I was a child. But, I KNOW without any doubt it has made my life so much richer today. I am open to meeting people and making friends more than my husband and kids who have known the same people all their lives. I have a large circle of close friends some recent and some I made when I was 8 and we were stationed in Pensacola. Being a military family IS unique, the challenges ARE different from civilian families. Not only is your home constantly changing but you have to live with the fact your husband or father belongs to someone else. Their lives belong to the government and to the entire country. This is what makes situation different from a lot of civilians who move around. Sharing my father with everyone who enjoys the freedoms he defended made me an adult who feels deeply connected to my country and the world. Just as sharing a heavenly father with the world makes us brothers and sisters, I shared my dad with the world and in return have an army of fathers and mothers to call my own.

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

I really appreciate what both of you had to say. I do agree that it just may not be for me, and others may thrive. I also DO think that this will be something my kids will always be proud of -- they've lived on 3 continents already!!!

Well said, both of you!