“I don’t know how you do it.”
“What’s it like being a military wife?”
“I could never handle being a military wife.”
Those are just a few of the comments or questions that I get often. It’s true, this life isn’t an easy one. We spend more time in limbo than actually knowing what’s going on. We pick up our lives and our children and move every 3 or so years. Along with the added benefit of not knowing where we are moving to until a few months before leaving. My husband works long hours and spends more time with his Airmen than he does his own family. Even dealing with all the unknowns, life as a military wife is worth every second.
As I sat at a function on base the other day I started to tear up. My husband was doing some work stuff and the kids were playing with their friends. I sat there alone because the friends I have made at this base have all started to move. Their time here is up and they are headed to their new duty stations. I sat alone and was feeling every part of that word. It’s hard to deal with but it’s a reality that you experience much to often as a military wife. We are less than a year out from our next move but it seems like an eternity sometimes. You end up sitting there wondering how you can get through this phase because that’s just what it is…a phase. How are you going to navigate this part of being a military wife?
There is no blanket answer. Honestly, I don’t believe you ever find the perfect solution to this. I believe you find a rhythm and sometimes you have to adjust but sticking to the rhythm helps keep you on track. Routines become your best friend when you are a military wife. Sundays are cleaning and prep for the week days. Mondays are laundry days. Tuesdays are appointment and cleaning days. Wednesdays are errand days. Thursdays are grocery shopping days. Fridays are flex days for whatever didn’t get accomplished the rest of the week. Saturdays are hopefully family days to spend some time with my husband and children. Seems kind of repetitive but it’s a life saver. I stay busy so it keeps me from being anxious since we don’t know where we head to next. A routine allows me to accomplish all the tasks without worrying about the phone call to say “sorry babe, I have to work late” or “I have to go in early tomorrow”.
Navigating life as a military wife means you find your groove, whatever that means to you. It’s understanding that your husband won’t be home at the same time every day because it’s not a normal 9am to 5pm job. It means expecting the unexpected. If something in the house can break while your husband is gone then it will. It’s knowing that your child will likely get sick at the most inconvenient time and your husband will not be able to take off work to help. You start making and changing appointments so you can get it all done. It’s wanting a simple date night with your husband but waiting for MONTHS to make it happen due to schedules and finding a babysitter. Navigating this life means never having a permanent job because in 3 years you will be in a different city or maybe even a different country. You take on every roll in the house and with the kids because your husband’s schedule is unpredictable. Then cherishing even the most simple Saturday when your husband is home and takes the kids so you can have a relaxing afternoon to yourself, only to feel guilty because you should be spending time with your husband. Seems a little insane, right? That’s a military wife’s life though.
You are probably wondering how I can say that it’s worth it then. When you walk into your husband’s office to drop off something and you see him sitting there in uniform the pride over takes you. When you find out your husband is going to be promoted, those late nights at the office seem worth it. When your husband comes home and tells you about an email he got thanking him for his mentor-ship and his face is glowing with pride, you know that the time he sacrificed away from his family helped another Airman. When your children stop, put their hands on their heart and stand quietly for the National Anthem, Retreat and Reveille then you know it is all worth it. The pride you have in your husband and country makes all the sacrifice worth it. It’s not easy but it’s dang sure worth it!
So how do you navigate this life as a military wife?
- Routines, routines, routines!
- Cherish the time you get with your husband.
- Make time for date nights…even if it is only every few months.
- Plan for the future once he retires….finish your schooling so you can have the career when it’s your turn.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Never, I mean NEVER, expect your husband to be able to make it home. Plan alternate means and if he does make it home then it’s a great surprise!
- Have PRIDE in what your husband does!
More importantly, be easy on yourself. Be proud of yourself for taking care of your family and loving them through this tough life we live. Take pride in being a military wife. They aren’t joking when they say we have the hardest job in the military. WE DO! I have been on both sides and I can honestly say that life was much easier when I was the military member. Don’t let that fool you though, I wouldn’t trade my life as a military wife for anything. We are the reason that our husbands can go to work and focus on their jobs. We can make or break our husband’s career. So support him and love him through the ups and downs then tag him in to watch the kids while you take a long hot bath with a glass of wine and a book! <3