Sunday, September 16, 2012

job title: military spouse

we've been a part of this military life for 7 1/2 years now. that's not a very long time compared to many spouses, but it is almost half way through a career-after this assignment, we will be 10 years from retirement.

most spouses don't speak of their husbands career as "ours" or say "we" when referring to time in service. but the life of a military spouse is not the life of most spouses.

like it or not, we are in it up to our elbows. while we don't "wear rank", we still have duties that we perform on a daily basis. this is never more apparent than during a PCS (permanent change of station), a deployment, or even a field exercise.

we don't carry weapons, we aren't issued gear, we don't wear a uniform, and we definitely don't get paid. but we make decisions and choices that only military spouses can understand. we face challenges that never cross the minds of most spouses.

when bella was 7 weeks old, we were sitting in a movie theater, watching avatar, when joel's phone started to blink. he walked out, answered it, came back in and said he had 2 hours to get his stuff and get on base-he was deploying to haiti. and just like that, i was on my own with a newborn for 2 months.

when bella was 8 months old, joel deployed again, to jordan for 3 months. our lease in our apartment was up (and we were maxed out of space), so i found a new place, packed up the house and with the help of my friend and her cabana teenage boys, we moved all our worldly possessions into the new house.

when she was 18 months old, he deployed again, this time for 6 months to iraq. he left in the middle of summer, so all of the household chores that he usually took care of (mowing the lawn, car maintenance, household repairs) fell to me. i learned how to use every power tool he owned (which is a lot).

and when she was 2 1/2, we got orders and moved to germany. while he was working on getting his work stuff in order, i was dealing with getting the car shipment arranged, the dogs papers and shots in order (which nearly had us leaving him behind-we missed a cut off by mere hours), overseeing the packers, getting medically cleared, getting passports and official documents in order-all in just under 2 months time.

and now, i spend my days transitioning from our old, big, perfect-for-us house into our new, small, stairwell apartment.

i'm not complaining. i love the adventure. but, just like any job, there are hard parts and parts we enjoy.

my "job" allows me to watch my child grow up and takes our family to some pretty amazing places. it affords opportunities unique to military families. it provides relative comfort. it hands us built in community, wherever we go. we have friends all over the world, and friends who are more like family.

but it's emotionally challenging on a daily basis-we left the house where our first baby made her first home. slept her first nights in her big girl bed, spent her days in her yard with her dogs running around carefree, made her first friends-friends she still asks for. she had her first birthdays, first holidays, in that home. she learned her first words, had her first sleepover, took her first steps, in that home. we face spur of the moment separations, stress from military decisions and worldly events that our completely out of our control, and possibilities of loss that most families will never have to think about or prepare for. some days, it seems unfair. but most days, we take it all in stride and understand it is the life we signed up for.

i may not be reporting for duty every day. i may not have standards that i have to perform to. but i perform important tasks every day, so that joel can do what he has to do. i help enable a stable environment for our child(ren), our marriage. i teach, i cook, i clean. i am an event planner, a moving foreman, and a professional unpacker. i ensure the smooth running of our household and the emotional stability of everyone involved.

so when i say "our" job, i am referring to our team that makes up the military member. one day, bella and her siblings will be part of this team. they will make decisions and choices that only military children can understand. they will face challenges that won't cross the minds of most children. and hopefully, their lives with be enriched by being a part of this team.

i know mine has been.

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