Sunday, October 19, 2014

So, Are We Screwing The Kids Up?

It is the million dollar question. One we joke about at our book clubs and Bunco groups but then quietly mull over in our minds in a more serious way when it's 2 AM. We all know that our kids will inherit some of our imperfections. We all have them, we all do some quirky thing or project some strange habit that our kids will inevitably annoy their future spouse with. But what about the big picture? Like, will my kids just be okay? And even better, what lessons can I take out of our unique life to help build a stronger, smarter, more well-rounded child?

I can't say that I thought much about how the military lifestyle would impact my kids when I was a youthful 21 year old planning our wedding. I was just excited to marry my high school sweetheart and ready for an adventure. Ready, after 5 years long distance, to not spend an hour each night on AOL IM  from my dorm room and instead actually see his eyes on a daily basis. I was naïve, but I was also open to something new and fun and different. I think I considered the differences between my own upbringing and the life I was about to embark on. But you never know something until you are neck deep in it.

The old adage of "you signed up for this so you can't complain" is probably the single most ignorant and obnoxious thing I've heard thrown at military families. Sorry, you just can't tell someone that they should "suck it up" because they "volunteered". I'll go fist to cuffs with anyone who wants to fight me on that one. This life, or any life, whether it be the surgeon on call when he just wants to sleep or the trucker missing Christmas for the third year in a row, is constant learning experience. We are all winging it. You can tell me to "suck it up, buttercup" when I'm getting my eyebrows waxed. NOT when I am moving my 4 year old to her third preschool. This stuff is hard.

The editor of Military Spouse Magazine contacted me a few months ago to write an article on grit. Grit is a term that has become trendy when discussing resilience and factors other than intelligence that predict success. Grit is the thing that keeps one focused, helps them get up when they have fallen for the 10th time, and keeps them persevering in the face of resistance and fatigue. The million dollar question was: what is grit? And can the imperfections and challenges of the military lifestyle actually help mold more resilient kids?

The answer is complicated. The premier researcher on grit, Angela Duckworth, actually said during her TED Talk that she can't tell you how to grow grit. She just knows that folks who exhibit more of that hard nosed and hard charging attitude toward their goals tend to do better, even when controlled for things like IQ score, socioeconomics, and educational background.

While doing my research for the article, I dove into a lot of articles and studies on military children and resilience. Both the positive side (it turns out that you can harness a bit of hardship and turn it into success), and the negative side (resilience fatigue is a thing). If you'd like to read more, please check out my article, which is in print in Military Spouse Magazine's October issue and here on their digital site: http://www.militaryspouse.com/articles/harnessing-grit/

I'm happy to say that I will be writing regularly for Military Spouse Magazine going forward. Next month will feature an I wrote article called "Racing Facebook" which will dive into my most read blog post regarding CACO notifications and social media. If you are a military family, I highly recommend subscribing as MSM dutifully tries to cover many issues that are uniquely related to our crazy unpredictable life. The wonderful editor is a military spouse as are all of the writers.
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adventures in LA: Dancing with the Stars

One of the most fulfilling parts of Navy life for our family is getting to experience new places with depth. It isn't a 2 week vacation or a weekend visit to a new place. It is a few solid years to grow some (shallow) roots, meet people, experience the food and culture, and leave with memories and a new place you will remember calling home.

Last year, we "did" the mid west. We travelled a lot, ate the food (BBQ or bust!), tried new things, and learned many fun facts about the heartland. We got to walk through amazing places like the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the World War I Museum in Kansas City. We got to see silly things like the (former) word's largest ball of twine. The kids experienced what it was like to not have a beach within 15 minutes (and I met grown adults who had never put their toes in the ocean). John attended a Nebraska football game. We scalped last minute tickets to the NCAA tournament to see the Kansas Jayhawks play basketball in their home town. We made an effort to make Kansas memorable and fun; not just a year where we were counting down to return to the coast.

Now we are on the west coast for the first time. My husband is struggling with the idea of "doing LA". He isn't excited about movies, Hollywood, celebrities, or anything glitzy and glamorous. He truly doesn't get starstruck or excited about the idea of people watching in Malibu or attending movie premiers or seeing if some young starlet is hanging out at the local Kitson. He just.doesn't.care. (insert blank no-fun face). To the point where he has a visceral reaction to all-things LA (and will snidely remark about the smog or traffic even though I haven't seen any smog and we don't have much traffic where we are). It is like he has judged the place before we lived it. In my (humble) opinion, if I was supposed to be open minded about driving 75 miles in a straight line (**cough** Western Kansas) or trying Kansas wine (eeew) then he can be open minded about attending something Hollywood-ish.

However, I can have fun without my partner in crime. And just this past Monday, with the help a new local friend, I drove into Hollywood and experienced a flashback into the 80s and 90s courtesy of "Dancing with the Stars".

Until now, I haven't encountered any celebrities here. Maybe I'm not paying attention because I spend a fair amount of time in Malibu eating and shopping. Everyone I know just happens to see Paris Hilton in the Sephora or Harrison Ford in the grocery store. Me? Newp. My sister visited for five days this past spring and ran into Steven Tyler at the airport; actually, he ran into her. And flirted with her. She had been in Los Angeles for 10 minutes and had Steve Tyler pulling on her braid and calling her "cutie". 

I on the other hand have been here for 10 months and nada.

On Monday, I got to see my first batch of LA celebrities.

My first celebrity?

Nicole Eggert of 90s "Baywatch" and "Charles in Charge" fame. She actually pulled her ice cream truck right where my friend and I were waiting to go into the studio to see DWTS. I had no idea she had an ice cream truck but the Inside Edition crew filming my friend buying a rainbow sherbet was a tip off that something was unusual. Of course I texted my husband all smug about seeing a chick from "Baywatch" but he swung back with a sarcastic "an actor with an ice cream truck? stay in school, friends". Party pooper.

Anyway, after a few hours of waiting, we were led into the "Dancing with the Stars" auditorium. We had to surrender our cell phones prior to entering so I wasn't able to take any photos. My first thought was that it looked super small. My next thought was that I needed to start paying attention to people around me. And the array of celebrities I saw truly brought me back to middle school.

Candace Cameron, my 80s hair idol, was right across from us. I haven't thought of her in probably two decades but seeing her in person made my 9 year old heart skip a beat. I mean, what kid didn't want her hair in the late 80s?!


Right behind her was Danica McKeller. Better known as her character on "Wonder Years", Winnie Cooper. One of the dancers is Alfonso Ribiero, also better known for his character's name, Carleton on "Fresh Prince of Bel Air". When one of the other guests was asked who their favorite dancer was they simply yelled "Carleton!" and when the host tried to correct her that his name was actually Alfonso she seriously seemed to roll her eyes and wave his ridiculousness off. He's Carleton. Just like Candace is totally forever and ever DJ Tanner.

Once the show started my nostalgic reminiscing was given a swift kick into 2014 when Jessie J performed her hit "Bang Bang". Is it bad that I thought Ariana Grande sang that song? Or are you proud that I even know who Ariana Grande is? Either way, it was quite the dichotomy seeing my childhood girl crush dance to this...


And can I just say? Those leather bra and underwear things those dancers were wearing were incredible. Like, their bodies are even better in person than on TV. I was literally kelly green with jealousy and knew that while John might be playing it cool in the Hollywood department that he would have LOVED to see that performance live. Oh well, you snooze you loose.

Overall, while I am not a habitual DWTS watcher, seeing it live was a blast. The production is incredible. Watching the dozens of stage managers and producers make sure the sets are switched in a timely manner (the show is live) was very impressive. The live band and professional dancers were very talented. And the vibe was just positive and fun. It was a long day (about 7 hours from the time we got to the studio to when we left) but it was absolutely worth the effort. It was some of the best people watching in my life.

Since I wasn't familiar with how to get the tickets to these things, I'll share here. If you are interested in DWTS, American Idol, The Price is Right, Tosh.0, and a smattering of other shows filmed in LA, NY, and Chicago, go here: http://on-camera-audiences.com/  If you are interested in The Voice, Jimmy Kimmel, The View, ESPN Sportsnation, and others, go to http://1iota.com/ Other popular shows like Ellen require going on that specific website and registering.


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Beauty in Farewell


There is beauty in the farewell.



It comes in the strength of those left behind. In the kindness that we share with one another. In generosity. In the village that forms and the relationships that are bred when we lower our walls and let friends become our family.

When one woman comes to another, drill in one hand and baby in another, to fix something that didn't quite get fixed before deployment loomed.

In treats and notes left anonymously on porches, wine bought and shared to ease the transition, in babysitting and breakfasts and pity parties. Late night text messages and phone calls.

There is beauty in missing our loved ones. In the reminder of their presence in our lives despite their absence. Even after decades of marriage, it is possible and wonderful to long for their warmth and the comfort of their just being home. I have said before and still believe it; I am grateful I get the opportunity to miss my husband sometimes.

In our little Navy world, we have built the village that other mothers crave. We do care for each other's kids, make each other meals, and spend holidays as "framily". It is because of these goodbyes that we get to form such amazing bonds.



Saying goodbye is excruciating. But it is also beautiful.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Adventures in (Rugged) Space-A Military Travel

 

John has been active duty for a little over 12 years now and we have been married just over 11. In that time we had always heard about Space A travel for military, we had friends who were adventurous and just showed up at an AMC terminal and "went wherever an open flight was going". Japan, Germany, Iceland, Hawaii... whatever! Pack flip flops and a parka because you never know! We never did that as a young married couple with few responsibilities. Before we knew it we had busy jobs and a few kids and the idea of just showing up at an airport ready for anything was... yea, not gonna happen.

Until now.



So there we were, flying over the Pacific Ocean in a plane full of orange netting and ominous "DANGER" signs everywhere. Several layers of hearing protection, winter coats at the ready, closed toed shoes, and a countdown clock on my husband's iPhone. Hawaii or bust!

We started thinking about Hawaii this summer because it is a fairly common route out of California. Military planes transport parts and people across the ocean and often have seats available for military members and their families. It is a neat perk, but it isn't guaranteed and requires quite a bit of patience and willingness for things to not go quite as planned. Or not go. Type A persons need to pack their Xanax. If you have kids, include a bottle of Tequila.

We started researching flights out of Travis Air Force Base and North Island Naval Air Station about two months ago. We watched the flight tendencies (it seemed that most flights went out Thursday through Saturday) and the roll call reports (how many people "competed" for a flight vs. how many got on), and the types of planes that were flying. We decided to try out of Travis because they seemed busier and to have bigger planes going in and out.

However, I started to get cold feet after our trip to Disney last week. It was a fun long weekend but Disney drains the life out of you quickly and I was longing for a few quiet days.The idea of driving 6 hours to Oakland, California and hang around an AMC terminal for several days just sounded like sheer torture.

Occasionally when doing research over the months I would notice flights out of Hickam AFB (in Hawaii) to Point Mugu (where my husband is stationed, we live about 15 minutes from there). Point Mugu Naval Air Station is a very small air base, so to expect much coming and going from Hawaii is silly. But because of how exhausted I was feeling, yet how guilty I felt to say no to my husband's "I want to go to Hawaii" puppy dog face, I asked him to call the terminal at the National Guard squadron to see if they might have a flight going to Hawaii in the next week or two. If I'm honest I truly believed it was fruitless and didn't really worry about it working out.

Serendipity. We got home from Disney on Monday evening, John called the guard squadron on Tuesday morning, and lo and behold, they had a flight leaving from Mugu and going to Barber's Point in Hawaii on Thursday. One of the National Guard squadrons had just returned from deployment and they were flying a few C-130s over to Hawaii full of families as a homecoming perk. So, we crashed that party.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm pretty darn type-A. The idea of going on a vacation to Hawaii in the summer without a single reservation or plan was terrifying. However, life is an adventure and you only live once. I packed like a mad woman on Wednesday, emailed my best friend's parents (who thank goodness are a retired Navy family and totally on board with Space A spontaneity) to see if we could stay at their home in Honolulu, and showed up at the terminal dressed for Alaska yet headed to Hawaii.

When I suggested to my husband that call the guard station, I was fully expecting we would be flying to Hawaii in a typical jet engine aircraft. Never in a million years did I think John would come home and tell me that yes, we could likely get to Hawaii from Point Mugu, but it would be in a C-130. A prop. A loud, slow, work horse of an airplane that is not designed for comfort, but rather, for combat. I would need to prepare to be very cold. I would need to have lots of hearing protection; we couldn't talk at all on the seven hours flight. **record scratch** Seven hours. I moved to California and thought I got closer to Hawaii, yet we would be chugging across the Atlantic at a snail's pace. Essentially eating the dust of flights leaving LAX two hours after us.

But it's free! No TSA! Yes, I know, I fear you will think I am complaining and I'm not. I'm just trying to put you in my state of mind. Vacation weary, mom of 3 and 5 year old, one day notice for a very adventurous flight over lots of ocean. I was just a tad worried. Totally "first world problems", but still on my mind.

Here are some pictures of our Hercules Hawaii Adventure:
Many thanks to the 146th California Airlift National Guard unit for letting us join their post-deployment fiesta!
Kate and Connor ready to go!


Approaching the two C-130s from the Channel Islands terminal. Santa Monica mountains in the background.
Getting on the plane. Jump seats with cargo netting and seatbelts that reminded me of puzzles you get in vending machines.

Connor got to hang with the flight crew during the flight.


Typical commercial jets now are so cramped that the C-130 was actually more comfortable than coach. People had hammocks that they hung in various locations (I was totally jealous of those smart people), a young family had their baby sleeping in a pack 'n play in one of the more open areas, and there was room to spread out and sleep. I could even have my Kindle on during takeoff and landing! Glorious! It was truly a very laid back atmosphere despite the "Anti Hijacking" brief we got and the realization that if we the plane lost pressure we wouldn't get one of those civilized air masks that are released on commercial jets, we would get this:
A turkey bag, aka EPOS. **shudder**

 
Overall, when considering the cost to get there this way ($0), it was absolutely worth the sound discomfort. Plus, the few times Kate and Connor got whiney it wasn't a big deal because nobody could hear them. Including me! In the end, it wasn't cold at all, and the feather down jacket I dug out of a box in our garage was completely unnecessary. If you were at the Pearl Harbor NEX last Thursday and saw a glazed over person in sweat pants, long sleeves, and sneakers looking like I had time traveled from another climate completely? That was me.
 
All completely worth it for this:
 
 
 
If you are interested in Space A travel from your location, the best place to start is here: http://www.spacea.net/. It lists all of the terminals worldwide, and if applicable their own websites, Facebook pages, phone numbers, instructions on how to sign up, and basics about the base (basically, are you landing in Siberia or Manhattan?). Typically, it is easier for retirees and non priority travelers to get seats during the less busy months (October-April). We learned quickly that some Space A terminals are better than others at being transparent about their operations and the realities of getting a seat. We really appreciated the ones that gave roll call reports of the daily flights like this one from Travis AFB: 
 
A typical daily roll call for flights out of Travis AFB

  
 
A typical active duty family traveling on leave (without orders) is a category 3. The rest of the categories can be read about in the spacea link above.
 
In the end, my only wish is that John and I had taken advantage of this long ago and long before we had children. It really is a unique opportunity to see the world without spending gobs of money. Plus, even though we experienced the rugged version of space A travel, I know that my children will remember this flight to Hawaii more than any other flight they have taken. Unique experiences should be grasped and appreciated. I don't think any of us will forget our time on the mighty Hercules any time soon.
 
 
 







 




Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Reluctant Mom's Review of Disneyland

 


Keep calm, have a (strong!) martini, plan Disneyland.

As someone that didn't grow up with Disney nostalgia pumped into my veins, the idea of planning the quintessential "Disney vacation" made me race for my migraine medication. "The Happiest Place on Earth", you say? "The longest lines on earth" is what my cynical mind replied. Especially in July. On a weekend. This was the Hunger Games of vacation planning and all of the blogs and websites I read, with cutesy names like "MouseSavers" and "Allears" (get it?), and lots of pixie dust floating in the background, made me sweat.

I like to think I know pressure and stress. Our family has moved four times in the past three years, I have applied to and completed a graduate degree, I've even walked countless families through the FAFSA process, but planning this vacation made me nervous. I asked a "harmless" question about Disneyland back in February on my Facebook page. It rendered something along the lines of 1,462 responses (not really, but close) with paragraphs in almost every reply. The only question that has ever gotten more responses on my FB page was one asking about "everyday red wines" at Trader Joes. Thankfully my friends know that wine>Disneyland.

Anyway, the message I was receiving was that a Disney "Vacation" is really a Disney "Battle". A battle for positioning (where you stay), strategy (arrival time, fastpasses, shows, characters), and spending ($$$$). It truly is crazy how much you can over plan one of these trips. We only stayed for two nights and went to the parks for two days, but we had maps and folders and pins (happy birthday! first visit!), checklists, and an archived set of FB messages and emails I had received with friends so that we could win experience Disney.

So, now that I sit with a large glass of wine pondering my most recent 72 hours, I am reliving all of the moments and misses in my head. Here was our reality:

The planning? Yep, you have to do it. Especially if you plan on going during high season or when the crowds are going to be particularly heavy. I'm so happy that we learned to get Fastpasses for "World of Color" (California Adventure's evening show) early in the morning, and even happier that we learned that Fastpasses for that don't make it impossible to retain passes for other rides. It is confusing for a Disney newb to traverse the Fastpass gauntlet (they aren't always near the rides they are for, the times you are eligible for them aren't totally clear, and the fact that you can have two at a time only sometimes makes it dizzying). Plus, at least for World of Color, if you don't have a Fastpass you will be sitting in a ditch somewhere with a view of a hedge. It will likely be a well maintained hedge, but not the amazingly beautiful show that is World of Color.

And so here is where my heart grows soft for Disney. Their showmanship? Breathtaking. I truly believe you get your money's worth inside Disney parks. We saw World of Color on the first night and Fantasmic the second and my jaw was practically on the ground both times. Well done, Disney. You could win over even the most frigid Disney skeptic with those performances. The parks are incredibly well maintained and the rides and shows are cutting edge. Even the throwback rides like Dumbo and Peter Pan's Flight have been spruced up over the years without ruining their nostalgia. There is a silent army that is constantly cleaning and crowd managing and fixing minor issues and it truly does appear to be effortless and seamless and "magic". My daughter, who's 5th birthday was the reason we went to Disneyland, felt truly special. She was probably wished a happy birthday 500 times this weekend by various staffers and ride loaders and characters.

At the advice of so many friends we decided to splurge and stay within the Disney Resort. We chose the Grand Californian Hotel which actually has a private entrance to California Adventure and is technically on property.  Both mornings we were right at the gate at 0700 sharp when they opened for the "extra magic hour" (an extra hour in the park for those staying in one of the three resort hotels) and at about 1pm after lunch we would go back to our room for a nap and to rest before heading out for the evening. The flexibility to come and go from our room easily and as we pleased made the vacation much more pleasant for everyone. With the park opening so early and the shows not ending until close to 11 PM, I believe that the "nap factor" was worth the cost of staying at GCA.

The highlights for us:

Kate seeing the princesses for the first time.



The face John caught on camera of Connor "enjoying" the Radiator Springs Racers ride. (I swear he loved it, but oh my, that face!)

subliminal marketing where the speakers look like Mickey Mouse ears?


Other highlights were the shows mentioned above, the healthy food options around the park (try the kid's "Power Pack" for an inexpensive yet healthy and filling meal), the quick loading of rides that kept lines down to reasonable levels during the busy season, and the friendly and accommodating staff. It was glaringly apparent than customer satisfaction is an "at all costs" effort. I learned this the hard way when I accidently "lost" (it slid off the jeep) my backpack on the Indiana Jones ride. It was my fault, but the manager of the ride was ready to give me meal comps to cover the money I didn't have access to for the 60 minutes it would take them to retrieve it. I got my backpack back pretty quickly; the biggest price I paid was my pride due to my husband's heckling.

Bottom line: It was pricey, but it was a blast!

Would I want to get married there or honeymoon there or spend every.single.vacation there? Hell no. Nope nope nope. Give me Hawaii of the Greek Islands or Rome. But I do see the value in planning a trip to Disneyland and am happy that I made the effort for my daughter's 5th birthday. John and I joked the whole time that "they better be making memories, dammit!" Seriously, it isn't a simple day trip unless you are nearby and going on a Wednesday in February (but not President's Day!). It was magical for my kids, and honestly I don't think any parent would begrudge another for wanting their children to have a wonderful trip once in awhile.

Other items we did and how we liked it:

 
Character Dining: We had lunch at Ariel's Grotto on Saturday and breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen on Sunday. The food at Ariel's grotto reminded me of wedding food (you know, fancy on the menu, but nothing spectacular in reality). HOWEVER (and this is a BIG however), getting to see most of the Princesses in an hour without standing in a single line was ahhh-mazing. Kate got photos and autographs from Ariel, Cinderella, Princess Aurora, Snow White, and Belle while we ate lunch. She did miss Ana and Elsa (we didn't even tell her about the Frozen reception and it's 3 hour wait), but was happy with the classics. We probably saved three hours of time by doing this so I'll forgive the "meh" mahi mahi and the "dry" tri-tip that John had.




As for Goofy's kitchen, it was a pretty amazing buffet breakfast. At 9:30 AM they had breakfast and lunch set up. Tons of options and their coffee was mercifully good. The food was much better than Ariel's Grotto and we got to spend some time with Goofy, Donald Duck, Pluto, Dale (of Chip 'n Dale), and (randomly, in my opinion) Princess Jasmine.

Grand Californian: Beautiful hotel, great service, comfortable beds (thank God!). The "turndown" service was extra fun because they would arrange the kids' toys while we were away. It made us all smile when returning to our room late at night.



We didn't try the restaurants or the pool (no time!) but everything looked beautiful.

I bought the book The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2014 by Bob Sehlinger and I appreciated the maps and lists and checklists. He is a bit too gung ho for me (note, I am a reluctant and cynical Disney goer), but I appreciated his ability to critique rides and restaurants with some non sugary sweet standards.

Special thanks also to my BOB Duallie stroller. John wanted to sell you earlier this year because our kids were "too big". HA! Have you heard of the "Disney sleep"? I hadn't, but my friend clued me in and it is absolutely true. We have had this stroller for almost 4 years now and it was absolutely worth it's price tag in this weekend alone. If you have kids under 7, bring a stroller!



An extra special thanks to my "Magic Maker" Tara Radulski (tara.radulski@offtoneverland.com) at Off to Neverland Travel for helping me war-plan this crazy whirlwind weekend. She made all of my reservations (with military discounts in mind!), gave me advice, and ultimately saved my Fastpass soul because without her advice sheets I would have been toast. She even sent us autograph books which my daughter has filled to the brim and I would have never known to purchase those. Her services are free-to-you and I highly recommend her for your planning needs!


Friday, July 4, 2014

Around the Sun with Katherine

Dear Kate,

I cannot believe you are five. Something about five years old makes you seem like such a big girl to me. The baby is gone, the chubby cheeks and fat little feet that come with toddlerhood have vanished. You are growing up, and while I look at pictures from when you were a baby and wish I could smell that baby hair and kiss those baby cheeks one more time, I am so thankful I get to watch you grow up.

You are a very focused, smart, and curious little girl. You absolutely love gardens and the critters that live there. When we go on walks, we have to stop every 10 feet to pick up the latest snail or ladybug or beetle. You worry that I might step on something and you will cradle the smallest creature with the care of a surgeon and absorb the details before carefully placing it back into a safe space. You are artistic and love anything to do with markers, crayons, paint, chalk, yarn, and stickers. My back patio is decorated in your bright creativities, and since it hasn't rained in California in about six months, I am happy to say that your chalk creations are probably here to stay.

You love books, you love pink, you are absolutely giddy with excitement if I agree to paint your fingernails or spend extra time carefully braiding your long blonde hair into a new masterpiece. You love your family and I know that being away from those who you love is the hardest part of the military lifestyle for you. That said, you make friends with ease. Last night on the playground you happily invited a bunch of new girls over to the table for cake. And before that, I watched as you approached a new friend and gave her a flower you had picked on the walk over.

Your sixth year is going to be full of new adventures and people. In about 6 weeks you will start Kindergarten, and with that a whole new world will open up for you. You're so ready, and I'm so excited to walk that journey with you (and will likely need a few strong mimosas to let you go that first day).

I hope you always keep your loving and curious nature. I hope you always know how much that dad and Connor and I love you. Happy birthday, Katie-bug. May the next journey around the sun be as fun as the last.

Love, Mommy


Photo bombed! :)

 Sorry to squish your face, we simply can't help it!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Military Spouses and Sacrifice

There is an anonymous article on Facebook (that was written for Military Spouse Magazine's online community) that discusses a woman's journey as a military spouse. She claims she is "that" military spouse. "That" military spouse means that she doesn't take an ounce of credit for her husband's career, and after 25 years she has never made a single sacrifice. She "doesn't understand" why spouses feel like they have served or sacrificed over the duration of a military career. After 25 years, in her opinion, she has done nothing more than if she had been married to anyone else with any other career.

When reading the article, it is important to see where this woman is coming from. She makes it clear very early in the article that she has always wanted a "traditional" family role. A role where she is the mother and homemaker and her husband is the breadwinner and provider. There is nothing wrong with that and she is absolutely entitled to be satisfied and fulfilled as a person. I'm happy she's happy.

Where she loses me is the tirade about her husband's career is his. She does not take credit for his accomplishments. Read: she doesn't wear rank, she doesn't feel like spouses make an ounce of difference in promotions, she just supports from the perimeter. The trouble? With that statement she essentially made the sweeping generalization that spouses who do feel like they have made sacrifices for their spouse's careers are essentially taking credit away from their military member.

Making a sacrifice and taking credit are not, by any stretch of the imagination, the same thing.

Military spouses make sacrifices. I have sacrificed two wonderful jobs in order to follow my husband's career path. I have done it gracefully, and it has never created drama, but I have definitely been extremely sad both days where I had to turn in my resignation paperwork. Most military spouses sacrifice over 50% of their lifetime career income in order to make the transient life work. She might not feel that sacrifice because her goals are much different than mine, but make not doubt about it, the research shows that the majority of military spouses either want or need to work.

My career sacrifice in no way, shape, or form means that I am taking credit when my husband is promoted. It doesn't mean I am bitter. And it absolutely doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the wonderful things, friends, places, and opportunities that this life provides.

The reason I feel like the distinction between sacrifice and credit is so important is that military family life is unique. It requires unique support systems that must be advocated for in order to receive. Blue Star Families does a survey every year to take the pulse of the military community, to see how families are doing and what needs to be done to sustain the system as a whole. Those results are used to lobby Congress and other organization for programming, funds, mental health care, and more. If I were "that" spouse, one that feels that because *I* am peachy keen and never felt an ounce of sacrifice that I couldn't possibly "understand" why another spouse would, how on earth would we be able to advocate for one another?

It is possible to feel one way while being empathic and understanding of a differing viewpoint. If she is happy as an at-home mother, and happy with moving and being "along for the ride", she should at least be able to extend an olive branch to a woman who sacrificed a important promotion or a special home or a close family unit in order to participate in this lifestyle. And have the open mindedness to realize that sacrifices and credit are completely different beasts.

I am proud to say that I have made sacrifices for my husband. I do so because I love him. I do so because I know how important serving his country is. It is a choice I make with purpose and without anger. Does it mean that I don't feel the pang of jealousy when I see a friend who I went to graduate school with get promoted or see a friend buy their dream "forever home"? Absolutely not. I am human and have absolutely felt jealousy before. But that sacrifice is worth it.



Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We live in the land of palm trees and Pinot Noir. For now.

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