If you search the different corners of the blogisphere, you will find different answers, but the message will, for the most part, be the same.

I have never really known the life of a full time active duty military spouse. Will and I married when I was 23 and he was very close to getting out of the Marine Corps. We dated while he was active duty, but I was living the college life in another town 50 miles away and he and his buddies would schlep into town for the night/weekend. (Somebody always had a girlfriend who had an apartment with a floor that could sleep 20 easily.) So, aside from a trip now and then to base, I didn’t know anything about base life or how it was lived. My “badge of honor” then was that I was dating a Marine (and a cute one at that). We got married, got out of the military and moved away and began living our lives. After a few years, Will decided he wanted to go back in. He toyed with the idea of going back active duty, but he decided to join the reserves and our new journey began. By that point, we were a little older, more settled into our lives and our understanding and appreciation for things had changed. I still didn’t fully understand the life of being a military spouse; all I had to do was deal with one weekend a month and a couple weeks a year. Easy enough. We are in a non-military town and the majority of our in-town friends are civilians who have not lived the military life so conversations about service never came up. December 2004 changed my life as I knew it. I was in the beginning stages of being a mother and the beginning stages of being a full time military spouse. My husband was being recalled for active duty service. Now, before I go on, please know that when someone joins the military, they have to sign a contract. In this contract it says they will serve their country when called upon, no matter what. When you sign it. You agree to it. There was never a question regarding serving (in the beginning we thought it was voluntary recall, but it wasn’t). He knew what he needed to do and I supported him with all my heart and soul. I watched my husband’s face as he chose the words to tell me he was ready to serve. He never wavered or flinched. It was very matter-of-fact. The pride I thought I knew was nothing. It was at that moment, in my heart and in my mind, I felt like a military spouse. For some (i.e. us) who are removed from “the life” by living where we do, it took a bit longer for it to seep in, but it did and we’ve never looked back.

Over Will’s first deployment, I learned a lot about him, me and us. I saw the hero in my husband. I saw how he stepped up with honor when duty called and not one time did it cross his mind on trying to figure a way to get out of it. I listened to his stories of construction and rebirth in an area devastated by war. I listened to the good and smiled. I listened to the bad and cried. I listened intently and I heard what he had to say. I learned about my weaknesses and strengths and used it as a tool to educate myself. Yes, there were a lot of pity-party days. There were more tears shed than Heaven has angels. I prayed harder than I ever imagined possible. I learned to stop being so selfish. I learned to accept what was dealt to me and to deal with it. It wasn’t always easy, and it still isn’t, but I’m a better person because of it. 

Am I a perfect wife?  Depends on who you ask.  (hee, hee).  No, I’m not.  Are we a perfect couple?  Are you kidding?  Don King wouldn’t referee some of our matches.  There have been times where we’ve been ready to throw in the towel, but we manage to get our egos in check and get back to life.  Those who know us well know we are polar opposites, but we’re a good complement to one another.  I’m the mouth and if he were any quieter he would be mute.  I’m the cook, he’s the techy.  I’m the read it and do it by the book girl, he does it his way, takes it apart and then realizes I’m right.  I’m a tad bit snarky at times, he’s patient and puts up with it.  We’re kind of like peanut butter and jelly…we’re good together, but we’re also good enough to stand alone.

Those who volunteer to serve our country are an elite minority, as are their spouses, and we are proud to be a part of it. Our service members come from all backgrounds and join the service for different reasons. For some, it is in their blood. For others, they need direction and discipline. There are some simply have a GED and there are those who hold doctoral degrees. Some like it and stay in. Some hate it and count the days to get out.  It is the differences in backgrounds, skills, personalities and all the other stuff that make the military community what it is.  Oddly enough, just like the rest of the world.   There are some who think those who serve in our military are the bottom of the barrel and the dregs of society with no other choices.  I, and anyone with half a wit about them, know how much crap that is.  Will and his soldiers have their annoying boy habits and cut up like boys will, but when it comes down to it, they know their job and they know it well.   They do their job and they do it well.  

Being a military spouse is an honor and it means I get to experience life from different angles and points of view.  It adds one more category on my resume of life.  It means I get to learn about things I would otherwise wouldn’t know about.  It has taught me compassion and understanding.  It has helped me see clearly the blessings that have been bestowed upon me and to share with others.  It has taught me to dig down deep and pull from within.  It has taught me how to be resourceful.  It has taught me that “hurry up and wait” means just that.   Ya’ll know I’m a realist and there is a TON of ugly that can come with it.  I don’t blow sunshine and white picket fences still have splinters, but it is what it is.  How we choose to embrace it is up to us. 

I don’t know what it’s like to pack up and move 5 times in six years or what it’s like to deal with base housing.  What I do know is that my heart skips a beat when my soldier puts on his uniform.  I know that it hurts like hell to run into his rucksack in middle of the living room floor on the way to let the dog out at 3 am.  I know that when I kiss him good-bye and smooth out the material of his uniform reminding him to be safe, I’m letting the National Guard have one of my best friends who just happens to be one of its best soldiers. 

So, what does all this mean?  It means I’ve got the best life has to offer and I wouldn’t have it any other way.