Today social media was filled with pictures of spouses, parents, siblings, and grandparents in uniform, and of course I had to post my own photos of my husband returning from Iraq 6 years ago. Looking at these pictures always makes me tear up, and I can replay that day in my head perfectly as if it’s a digital file. I cannot eloquently describe the feelings of relief and elation I felt when I saw my husband come off that jetway. And then there was my daughter. My little girl, who was normally a chatterbox from dawn until bedtime, didn’t say a word. She just clung tightly to her daddy, for over two hours. We all knew her silence spoke volumes about her feelings.
Now before you feel too sorry for us, you should know that my husband was only gone for three months, which seems minimal compared to so many of our friends who have dealt with longer (and multiple) deployments. We were able to Skype multiple times a week and he was home before the birth of our son and the big holidays. (Gosh, can you imagine how awful deployments must have been before internet? Waiting weeks/months for a letter, not even knowing if the person who wrote it was still alive??)
As short as the deployment was, every single day I was reassured that military life was and is not for us.
When my husband left, I was newly pregnant with our second child, and while it could have been worse, I did not have easy pregnancies. I was sick all day, exhausted, had a busy business to manage, and got to parent a very sassy 2 1/2 year old by myself. Just to get a nap I had to lock ourselves in my bedroom and put Monsters, Inc. on the television. Every. Single. Day. I didn’t care if my daughter watched the same movie for 93 minutes, 87 days in a row. I needed rest.
I knew military life would be tough. I was born and raised in the same house until I moved out at 19 years old. The idea of packing up and moving every few years and leaving my family was terrifying. Luckily we didn’t have to go far. After my husband graduated college, our first assignment was Colorado Springs, just a little over an hour drive to my childhood home. While I was thrilled, it didn’t come without a major life change. Not only were we starting a new life together as husband and wife, I had to quit a very good job and leave my friends.
I couldn’t find a job right away, especially nothing that paid anywhere near what I was making previously. I dedicated a lot of time to decorating our new home and got involved with a military spouses’ club to make new friends. I learned a great admiration for military families, one that has grown stronger in the 11 years that we’ve lived in this town.
My husband got off active duty and became a reservist (which is when he actually deployed), and now works for the federal government on the civilian side. I think if he was single he would have stayed in the Air Force until retirement, and would have enjoyed serving his country from different bases. However, as a family we made the decision that military life just wasn’t for us. (Besides, we have too much crap to ever consider another move!)
It’s easy to forget the sacrifices military families have to make. The freedom we are blessed with on a daily basis comes so easy in this country, that we forget how we get those freedoms: because of the bravery of our soldiers and their families. Men are missing the births of their children, wives are exhausted from disciplining their children alone, and children are struggling to connect with friends because no one understands their loneliness.
I am the proud wife of a veteran, but I am a lousy military wife. Honestly, I don’t know how so many of my friends have dealt with long deployment after long deployment, and move after move. It takes a special person to love our country that much. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, but God definitely had other plans for us.)
So THANK YOU to not only our veterans, but to their families. Every move means spouses have to leave their jobs, kids have to leave their schools, and they all have to leave friends. I truly admire your strength and all you sacrifice for this country.