Friday, May 10, 2013

Giving Thanks to Spouses

May 10th is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.  You will see a lot on the internet today giving thanks to the strong men and women in our nation that hold down the home front while their spouse is away.  One who move their lives and try to make a home in countless locations.  All the while trying to keep a graceful presence, a supportive and gentle demeanor, and a strong foundation for those around them.

Next month my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage.  10 years of military spouse-dom.  10 years since I was welcomed into the Navy by a less-than-gentle slap on the rear.  Thank goodness for crinoline!

I have learned a lot in the past 10 years, 5 moves, and 3 deployments (not that I'm counting...).

I will admit, when I first entered this sorority of military wives I thought some of this endless stream of accolades was a little over the top.  Cheesy, indulgent, and even embarrassing.  I didn't know that my impression of this life would be completely different than the reality of  it.  Didn't realize that while moving over and over, switching jobs left and right, choosing new schools for your kids every 2 years, and saying goodbye to new friends a heartbeat after you meet them would be completely doable in the moment, that I would look back and feel my chest tighten.  That I would exhale and feel like I had held my breath for years.

It is hard work.  And yes I said it: work.  The research and planning I do to move our family seamlessly from place to place is thorough and time consuming and frustrating.  My payment is a positive transition into a nice home for my husband and children, a good school for my kids, a community of friends for me.  On a lighter note, it is buying furniture that will work in "every house", curtains that will work on "every window", cars that could theoretically be shipped to Europe, and making sure keep meticulous shot records of our pets in the event of a move to Hawaii. 

Even as I wrote one of my longest and most acutely researched papers in graduate school on military spouse career prospects I thought "this won't apply to me, I'll make it work/have more energy/more luck".  My 24 year old self had never experienced that grinding first year of work in a new place.  Learning the ropes, the people, the culture, and trying to build back a reputation from nothing.  Over and over and over.  I had never felt the pain of leaving a job that I loved with students I had grown close to and co-workers I considered close friends.  Over and over and over.

My children are still young.  I still haven't experienced watching them have to say goodbye to established friendships, sports teams, and schools.  That anticipation makes me sad, and also makes me realize how resilient and amazing military children are.  They deserve our appreciation too.

So on a day where I know many military spouses will be modest and defer to their husband or wife in uniform, pointing to them as the hero of the house and refusing to accept any accolades, I will be one to proudly proclaim my appreciation.  And accept a pat on the back.  Because after 10 years, I know that what we do as spouses is hard.  It is not typical.  And it deserves praise. 

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 are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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