"I don't know how you do it"
"Doesn't it get hard with kids by yourself?"
"You are crazy for sticking with him"
"He volunteered for a deployment!?!"
"You volunteered to stay behind for year when you could have gone with him?!?!"
"What do you mean you don't mind it?"
These are only some of the question/statements-we hear often. Most of the time we don't mind answering the questions; it's our privilege to answer them. But sometimes the comments are said with attitude...not a need for understanding. Many times we end up asking ourselves "Why did I may a soldier?" (Airman, marine, seamen).
We spend the majority of our married life in the military separated. “The military is our husband's mistress and sometimes she gets all the attention.” The alarm goes off at 0500 every weekday and sometimes weekends too.
They may leave for work one morning and not come home for weeks at a time...even though they are just a few miles away.
There are times when we are spoken to in military lingo over the phone...and we stand there going "What???!!!". Sometimes we get a phone call back with an explanation in English. Just to survive the language barrier we choose to learn the most common words and acronyms without complaint. Thank the Lord for “Google.” We also learn there are 2 types of time: military and civilian.
We attend unit functions and events (aka "mandatory fun days") proudly. We fix dishes for pot lucks, bring drinks or paper ware. We support our units in any way we can. We attend balls and wear colors that we normally wouldn't choose. The colors represent our husbands career path i.e. infantry color is light blue; air defense artillery are red (scarlet) and yellow; military intelligence colors are oriental blue piped with silver gray.
We are told when and where to move. We go months/years without hugs and kisses. We expect long deployments.
Some wives just know when their husbands are leaving and never know when to expect a phone call or when to see their husbands. They can go months without any communication. There are those wives whose husbands are Special Forces when they leave they don't know where they are going, when they will be home, how long they will be gone, or if they will even hear from their spouse. To these wives: I salute you!
We can break down and cry at anytime without warning-at times. We learn to be without our husbands for our anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and even childbirth!
We learn how to fix things on our own. We learn how to depend on others for help when it gets too rough or we don't know how to fix certain things.
We learn how to move from larger houses to smaller ones and sell a lot of our possessions. We can pack a house in a day. We can move with short notices. We learn to pack up and go...leaving friends.
Our children often have to leave in the middle of the school year, leaving behind friends just to start all over again. Sometimes they don't understand why they move so much.
We learn how to do last minute sewing on uniforms. Some can pack the military duffel bags with exact precision. We will stay up late sitting in the living room with our husbands while he packs his gear for a 0600 inspection. We learn how to clean the TA-50 (gear).
We wake up late night to children crying-not knowing or understanding where Daddy/Mommy went. They don't understand why they to go away. We become child psychologist at 2AM to help them understand. We go through a circle of emotions several times a year.
We can expect phone calls late at night from our husbands’ soldiers, if they need help. We learn that our husbands form a brotherhood with these men. These men will spend hours and days together. Then during a deployment they are the ones keeping the other one safe.
Even though we know our husbands one day may not come home to give us a hug, we still stand behind them. It's a deep fear during a deployment to get a knock at the door from someone unexpected bearing the bad news. We stand behind our husbands’ choice to defend the freedom of people he will never meet. Some serve only a few years while others serve for 20 or more.
During deployments some of us return home to live near family so that we will have strong support during the rough times and holidays. Others stay behind and visit family. We build a strong network around us to help us...we have FRG's/FSG's, churches, and other military wives to back us up.
So why do we do it....
Sure we have great benefits, but they don't compare to the feeling of standing there watching our husbands receive an award. When they are promoted; we are often there. Some of us get the honor of being the first person to punch him (it's an Army thing) when we are the ones taking off the old rank and putting on the new during a promotion ceremony. Then there's a reenlistment...we stand there watching him take an oath for another "X #" of years. We know we have more time to endure the hardships. It’s worth it-to stand there with pride seeing the man we married be acknowledged for his good work.
Note: This is called the proud version because there are some wives who think that the Army is just a job. It's not...it's a way of life-he's a soldier 24/7. There are wives who refuse military lingo, acronyms, or time to be spoken at home. They argue and are bitter about the military. Biblically, it's the man's place to take care of the family...if he chooses to do it as a military member, then he needs his wife's support.