I was a young college student when I met my husband. I didn’t have any experience with the military and was hesitant to dive headfirst into the relationship.
Fast forward that relationship a few years, and I had experienced a cancelled wedding due to a deployment; my first pregnancy alone with a quick visit from my husband for the birth of our child and then sending him back to Afghanistan; and getting pregnant with our second only to have him leave for another deployment one month before our baby was born — forcing me to transition from one child to two by myself in a place we had called home only a few months.
To try to put this as nicely as I can — I was NOT a huge fan of military life, and believe me, if you could have been a fly on the wall while all of this was happening, you would have heard a lot of other nasty, not-so-nice things come out of my mouth.
I was certain that the military had brought bad luck on my life, and I constantly dreamed about the day he would get out, and we could live a ‘normal’ civilian life.
Since then, things have calmed down a bit (for now!), and I am finally able to reflect where our military life has taken my family and why I believe it has changed me for the better.
Here are a few of the reasons:
I’ve gotten to experience unbreakable bonds between military friends.
Making life-long friendships was an unexpected blessing for me. There is an unspoken bond between two military spouses who know the struggle, the fear, and the excitement that a life in the military can bring. This is the type of friendship where you wait up until your friend hears from her husband to say he has made it to his destination or the type where you can cry because you can’t take any more bad news. This bond makes it so hard to say goodbye but so sweet when your paths cross again. I feel like this kind of bond can only be found in the military.
I have been forced to leave my ‘safe place’ and experience life.
Until meeting my husband, I never thought I would leave Missouri. But I did, and I’m SO glad I was able to. My husband and I had to learn to rely on each other and only each other. There were no free babysitters so the kids went everywhere with us when they were young. I think this made them learn early on how to act in a public place. I mean, they aren’t perfect. We are still, at times, the family who has meltdowns in the middle of the store, but overall they love going places, and I can usually trust that they won’t act out, too much. And of course, we get to see so many awesome places! Yes, it’s hard to move every few years, but the things we and our kids get to see are priceless.
I have learned to be independent.
I’ve learned to run a household by myself. It has been overwhelming, but when I look back at the experience, it is so empowering to know I was capable of doing more than I ever thought. This is coming from a girl who didn’t know how to pay bills or mow a lawn.
I was thrown into a world in which Murphy’s Law exists; y’all-anything and everything will start to go wrong or fall apart the minute your spouse hits that runway for deployment. You can curse, cry, or laugh throughout it, but when it’s over, you will feel accomplished and have a new sense of independence.
I have learned to be flexible and embrace change.
It’s all about being flexible and realizing change doesn’t have to be feared. I am NOT a naturally go-with-the-flow person. I like planning and schedules, so this was a huge obstacle for me to overcome. However, if you can learn to embrace it, you can enjoy the excitement of it all. The moving, the new places, camping out in a TLF, decorating a new home, meeting new people—I use to dread all of these things and I still do sometimes, but because I have learned to be more flexible, I have learned to appreciate this aspect of military life as well.
The bottom line
For some of us, the military is a scary, unknown life when we first begin. You will find yourself in the lowest of lows but also at your highest of highs. It will make you appreciate the little things and to turn anything into a positive opportunity. You get to experience a life that a lot of people don’t get to; when I look back at the places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met on our journey, it is quickly apparent that we are all so blessed to live this life.