To my fellow military wives and mamas,
If this letter finds you, it means that you are in this unique season of life alongside me–married to your best friend, raising your family, but sharing your husband with the military. It means that you didn’t just marry the man; you married his career, too. I wanted to take a moment to talk about the real struggles and the real joy this lifestyle provides. This letter is meant to encourage you on your journey, remind you of your strength, commiserate with your emotions, and highlight the all-too-forgotten group of women who stand ready alongside their husbands.
You didn’t choose this career path, but you chose this man.
Before Matthew and I even started dating, I imagined the man I would marry one day. I imagined my life, my future. I had it all planned out in my head. One of the things I knew for sure about my future was that I would never ever marry a man in the military. That’s what I told myself. My father had been in the military, as well as my brother, and I saw that lifestyle, and I didn’t want any part of it. I was sure I wasn’t strong enough for that kind of a commitment. When Matthew came into my life, we were just teenagers. We fell in love, and we fell hard. When we got to the point in our relationship when we knew we would have a future–that we just had to be together–Matt had news. He was joining the Coast Guard. I can tell you, I spent sleepless nights battling with his decision, wondering whether I could really stand by him through this venture or if I even wanted to. . . In the end, I chose him. His love meant more to me than his choice of career.
To you, new (or soon-to-be) military spouse, if you are torn between your man and his choice to be in the military–choose your man. Love conquers all. No matter how insurmountable this lifestyle seems, no matter how scary all the changes may be; if you love him, you can make it through anything.
To you, seasoned military spouse, on the days you are weary from raising your children alone, on the days you are lonely because the bed is empty and you haven’t heard your husband’s voice in days, weeks, or months, on the days you feel as though you have nothing left to give, nothing left to sacrifice for this military lifestyle–remember your love. Remember the love that drew you and your husband together. Its because of that love that you can overcome the loneliness, find energy to engage with your children, and uncover that last bit of courage to get you through.
You didn’t want to move away from home, but you found a new “home.”
To you, military spouse, on the day that first moving truck was being packed-all your belongings being tucked away, and all your memories of the past with it–I know the feeling. This day is one of the hardest days. When you say goodbye to everything you have known and move on to the unknown. Maybe your family is waving goodbye. Maybe hugs are shared and tears shed. . . Today, you will have to leave your family and your friends, and you’ll wonder how long it will be until you see them again. This day will break your heart, but there will be many others like this. After awhile, you won’t cry as long and your heart won’t ache forever. In fact, ‘home,’ will take on an entirely new meaning. Home will become wherever your husband’s job takes you; wherever you are together. Wherever you build your life and grow your nest.
You dreaded the thought of leaving your family, but you gained a new “family.”
If there is one thing I learned through this military life, it is that-no matter what-we always have each other’s back. Moving away from your family, friends and your ‘old life’ is hard. Moving somewhere you know no one is even harder. You have to learn to be bold, be brave and make new friends; because, those friends might just become family. You have something in common with every military family–living a life of sacrifice, commitment, and transience.
You have become a strong, independent woman, but you need to relinquish a little control.
Becoming a military wife, and now a military mama, I have learned to be tough, resilient, strong, independent and in control–especially when it comes to raising our baby girl. Oftentimes, as a military wife, you are used to taking the reins and being in charge. Your husband comes home and is back to work alongside you, but you feel as though you know what the baby needs better than him, you know what to fix around the house, you know what the kids school and sports schedule is. . . But let me tell you, military wife, your husband wants to help. Relinquish a little of that control; because, when your husband comes home, he wants to feel like he is still an integral part of his family, that he belongs, and that he is needed. Let him help with the baby, show him what needs fixed around the house, and ask him if he’d like to drive the kids to sports practice. It will do wonders for his confidence, self-esteem, and sense of belonging.