I’m sitting here in what is left of my kitchen. There are four strangers walking though my house and going through everything I own. All that I have is in their hands now and all I can do is give them an envelope of cash and hope that I see my things again someday.
I am a military wife. “Active Duty Dependent Spouse” is my official title. I’m hardly dependent though. My husband and I have been married for seven years now and he’s been dependent upon me all this time to manage, furnish and decorate his home, shop for his clothes and food, prepare his meals, do his laundry, raise his son and unpack his bags whenever he comes home.
I’ve got a good gig here. I’m great at managing a household and I’ve even managed to adapt and remain productive when our son came along and made the job a bit more demanding (but loads more rewarding).
But I digress…
This isn’t about the rewards of military service or the plight of the military wife. This is about having your world rolled away by strangers. We are a military family. We are inherently mobile. We go where the mission requires us to go and we don’t have a choice in the matter or any say in it. So we roll with it.
I’ve lived in Montana for seven years now. During the eight years prior to marrying my military man, I was the active duty member. The Air Force took me to Texas, New Jersey, England, Turkey, Germany, Belgium and Las Vegas. That’s a lot of moving! The big difference now is that we have a 15-month-old son. My husband and I are old pros, but Teddy isn’t. I still have an internet connection at the house we’re moving out of and can work while the movers do their thing. OK, so I’m sitting in what used to be my kitchen with a packing crate as a desk. (We adapt, improvise and overcome. It’s our job.) My husband, who has been away for nine of the past 12 months is in a hotel room trying to keep his sanity while our son learns to adapt to his new surroundings. Sadly, once he adapts, he’ll have to deal with a two-day drive to our next base and then a stay in another hotel. Once he adapts to that, we’ll be moving into our new home and that will take some more adjustment. Children his age regress when they go through major upheavals like this. I’ve accepted the fact that my son won’t sleep through the night again for another couple months.
Too many people think that my lifestyle is glamorous. Don’t get too excited. It isn’t glamorous to have your husband away from home for nine out of every 12 months. It isn’t glamorous to have people going through your possessions every couple years to pack them up and send them on to your next base. It isn’t glamorous to have to rent a house over the internet and hope you got what you were looking at in the photos. It isn’t glamorous to live out of a suitcase and hope you packed enough toys to keep your child happy. And it sure isn’t glamorous to send your spouse off to war and hope he comes back with a box and not in one.
This isn’t a life for the faint of heart. You’ve got to be independent and self-sufficient. Nobody is going to shovel your driveway for you when you and your baby have strep, your husband is deployed and you just got 18 inches of snow. You’ve got to be strong like the great American pioneers but most of all, you have to have the same faith they had.
In fact, in all the moving, packing, unpacking and homelessness we go through, the one thing we carry with us 24/7 is our faith. Faith that our household goods won’t be stolen, faith that Gramma’s quilt won’t be torn or lost in the move. Faith that our old friends will keep in touch and that we’ll make at least one new one at the next base. Faith that we can adapt, improvise and overcome. Faith in God, the Air Force and our ability to suck it up and press on.
I hope I’ve been able to demystify the life of a military wife. Too many people think it is all just one big traveler’s paradise. It was time to set the record straight. I have to go now. The only thing left of the home I had is a few dust bunnies and a box of matches. It is time for me to get back to that hotel room and figure out how I’m going to make dinner for my family. After all, it is my job and I wouldn’t trade it for any other.