What does being a military family mean to you?
I got this topic from another blog that I read sometime last week. The topic really stuck with me because when I started responding to the prompt I had a very similar response to the author, but by the time I was done I had really thought about the prompt I had written a completely different answer.
In the blog, the author shared that she didn’t feel that their life was very different than an ordinary civilian life. There have been many times in my past when I have felt that way as well. I was determined to not be “just a military wife”, or to let the military define us and our life. But as the author stated, “being a military family is important to me, but it doesn’t define us.”
So now I take pride in being a military family. It’s an important aspect of who we are, but it is not the only thing that defines me or my life.
I’ve found that the more I interact with the regular civilian population (at school or at work), the more the differences of being a military family become apparent to me.
- Time has a different meaning to me. After two deployments and various trainings and schools, anything that takes my husband away for less than a month isn’t significant in the grand scheme of things. I miss him, of course, but it’s become an expected part of our life.
- Having my husband with me for important events isn’t a given, nor is it particularly upsetting anymore. Holidays, graduations and anniversaries can often be spent alone.
- Along those same lines, I have become very independent. I can go to the movies by myself, or to weddings or out to dinner. I have girlfriends, of course, but if there is a movie I want to see or a restaurant that I am craving and they aren’t free to go with me, I have no problem showing up by myself.
- Patriotism has taken on a new meaning for me, as referenced in my post about Memorial Day. I cry almost every time the National Anthem plays. Although my husband has a very safe job, I’ve known woman who have lost their husband’s in service to this country. The respect and pride I have in my country and for all that our military does has been forever changed because of my experience as a military wife.
- My daily life is different. I shop at the Commissary, I use acronyms that most people are baffled by, and I am used to seeing men in uniform.
- Being a military family means that I have no choice in where I want to live. It means being PCSed to wherever the military thinks we are needed. I’ve found that most of my civilian co-workers are shocked that I am moving in 6 months and I have absolutely no idea where we are going, nor am I stressing about it too much.
- Being a military family means that the military comes first. They decide when my husband comes and goes. They decide where we live and when we will move.
For a very long time I was determined that my husband’s job was just going to be a job. I believed that being in the military was only a job, and not a lifestyle. But the more I live this life, the more I see it as a lifestyle.
I see the differences between myself and my civilian coworkers and classmates. My life is confusing and difficult and baffling to them. But to me, it’s just my life. I guess at some point over the last 5 years I have grown so accustomed to the military lifestyle that it has become a part of who I am. I stopped fighting it and let myself be embraced by this lifestyle.
And I am okay with that. I am proud to define myself a military wife. That does not mean that I am ONLY a military wife. I am a Social Worker, I am a Photographer, I am a Crazy Cat Lady. I am a Military Wife.