Someone sent a note to me asking: "I'm writing you to ask how do you deal with the separations? " She also wrote "You are leaving and now my best friend is leaving me in mid-July.."
I pondered this for a couple of days before I could respond. How do I deal with separation? How has that changed over the years? Let's face it, moving sucks - sometimes. Separation is NEVER easy and it is so hard to say goodbye to dear friends and family! I feel like we all have 'seasons' in our lives, military or not. People come and go; some people are only with us for a season, some are with us for multiple seasons while others are with us for a lifetime.
Moving season used to be way too hard for me - I didn't think I was cut out for this Army life. I shed tear after tear after tear. But now (many years and many moves later) I have come to realize that it is not goodbye as I continue to run into the same people over and over thought out this Army life. A few things that makes moving easier for me are, number 1, my husband. He is my rock, and my best friend. He lets me cry on his shoulder, but he doesn't let me wallow too long. He embraces me when I am hurting and pushes me to be stronger and better than I was before. Number 2 is my kids. I let them know it is OK to mourn a loss (yes - moving is a loss!) but we don't stay in mourning for too long. We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps (or in my case high heels...) and search the internet for what the next adventure will bring us! After I make sure my family is taken care of (or they make sure I am taken care of ) I go to the old standbys, the phone, (what exactly are long distance charges anyway??) Skype, (even though I can't STAND sitting at the computer...I really need to get Skype on my cell phone, but I don't think I would like that either...walking around trying to clean with a person in hand - now if we could figure out how to have them help clean - sorry, I got distracted ...) email and Facebook! It has never been easier to stay connected! I remember back in the day when the phone bills alone were a big issue for military families - I thought my husband might divorce me after he saw our first telephone bill as a married couple! For me, I deal with separation by (drinking wine) staying connected through the phone and social media, which is a lot easier than it was back in the day when we had to rely on snail mail (I'm not sure I even remember how to HANDwrite) and those overly priced phone calls (and cheap pink sweet wine). Plus I make friends faster now than I did 20 (cough) years ago! When I move into a new place if the neighbors haven't come to say hi to me in say 12 hours, I go say hi to them - dragging my kids with me! (Hubby doesn’t partake in this ritual.)
OH, and I love the fact that I know that people ALL OVER THE WORLD! If I am traveling somewhere whether it is for vacation or moving I will have someone to connect with, someone I met previously on this journey of life. For example, we are going to Seattle and we have 3 sets of friends we can't wait to have dinner with or share a glass of vino with! PLUS, they give us the hook-up because they know all the cool spots! AND I love how I cannot see someone for 10 years and then when we are back together we pick up right where we left off - as if we had seen each other the day before.
For many moving season is one of the hardest (aside from deployment) seasons one has to face, but it is also a great season for personal growth. It is hard, but in the end it will make you stronger and you will always cherish those friendships you have created along the way no matter how many seasons those friends stay in your life.If you are selected to be a military spouse, you may have many, many more seasons than others. I say embrace them. Make the most of each season that is given to you. Love and make friends like you are not moving in 2 years BUT enjoy each day more than you normally would because you know you are moving in 2 years.....
The movers arrived an hour late on Tuesday, 8 May. I thought this was a bad omen. I wasn't thrilled. Really? Late the first day? I can't stand it when people are late. However after they arrived and got straight to work and didn't take a smoke break after 10 minutes I was beginning to forgive them. (I'm not sure why/how anyone would forget their ID Card when coming onto a military instillation, but whateve's) After they worked for an HOUR NONSTOP I was really starting to like these ladies. I loved the fact that they were all LADIES doing my pack out, and they were good at it. They weren't just tossing my household goods in a box taping it up and marking it 'shoes' when it was really kitchen plates. They actually LABELED everything that was in the box....This isn't a great picture, but you can see all the writing on the boxes:
The EXACT moment the packers won me over was when I ask them if I could pack my own shoes. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: I would like to pack my own shoes, do you guys mind if I grab a box and paper?
Movers: (looking at me like I am nuts)
Sure we will fix a box up for you, but just so you know, we wrap EACH SHOE INDIVIDUALLY and place them in the box.
Me: YOU DO WHAT?!?!
Movers: we wrap EACH SHOE INDIVIDUALLY and place them in the box.
Me: You are kidding me? You are not serious...?
Movers: Really, that is how we pack shoes.
Me: OK, you can pack my shoes.
OK, I'm in LOVE. Rocky's Moving and Storage
, why can't all moving companies be like you?
Day 2 of the pack out was even better when one of the ladies ask me: "is there anything else you want me to put in
this box? I really don't like to mix boxes." I MUST be in the Twilight Zone.
By the end of Day 2 all of our household goods going to Korea were boxed and ready for the movers the next day.
It was about 6PM in the afternoon, Hubby went to play golf. I had just poured myself a little 'after the movers leave' cocktail, I had the remote control to the DVR in hand and was about to sit down to watch Private Practice when my neighbors daughter Kenzie came bursting in my house yelling "Mrs Trish, Mrs Trish, YOU NEED TO GET TO THE ER NOW!! HURRY!!" and she ran back to her house yelling for me to follow her - What the what, what?
You see, Boys 2 & 3 were playing at the neighbor's house. As I was running towards the neighbor's house I was expecting to hear screaming, but I didn't and in the few seconds it took me to get there I thought that Kenzie must have been exaggerating. There was no yelling and I was seeing no signs of blood. As I am trying to catch up with her (and with 1000 thoughts swirling through my head)
I heard her say it was Boy 3. He was hurt. But I was confused. There was no screaming, crying or sounds of any kind. That is when I saw my neighbor Kayla with phone in hand leaning over Boy 3 (he was on her couch)
asking me if I thought she should call 911. My first reaction was 'why' - he was lying calmly on her couch, not even crying, but coddling his arm. When he saw me, the tears started, he moved his hand that was covering his arm and that is when I almost vomited right then and there and said (not very calmly)
YES, CALL 911! I went into a mini panic. I sat beside him while Kayla called 911. She ask for an ambulance, things were taking too long for me...I ask Kayla if they were sending an ambulance, she shrugged her shoulders and continued answering the questions the dispatcher was asking her. Again, in my small state of panic the 10 seconds Kayla was on the phone seemed like 10 minutes so I ask her again if the ambulance was coming she shrugged once again and mouthed 'I don't know'. That is when Momma Bear went into growl mode and said 'GIVE ME THE PHONE.'
I took the phone out of her hand and ask in a not very nice way "is an ambulance coming or do I need to put him in the car and drive him to the ER?!?!" That is when the very nice dispatcher said 'Yes, the ambulance is on the way, I just need to ask a few more questions' - I said thank you - again not very nicely and gave her back to my friend. Grrrr..... Why couldn't she just tell us the ambulance was on the way before asking a million more questions?
While waiting for the ambulance I collected myself, called Hubby, told Boy 1 he was in charge, let him know where Girl was and grabbed my purse.
It took the ambulance a little longer than it should have because our street is not in any GPS system. To me, this seems like a problem that should have already been fixed (especially for EMS)
since our street is now 4 years old, but I'm not in charge of that.....
The whole time Boy 3 was pretty calm. He wasn't freaking out crying, screaming or anything. In fact he was so calm it freaked me out a little. When I ask him what happened he said, "I fell off the slide (a little tykes slide mind you) and Boy 2 fell on top of me and then I heard my bone crack."
A little while later as he was lying on the couch still waiting for the ambulance he asks - "Mom, are you going to take a picture now?" I just love that kid! :o)
Upon arrival to the ER at Darnell they immediately gave Boy 3 morphine. I ask if they had some for me, but I think they thought I was joking. I wasn't.
See that big lump on his arm? That is his bone sticking up. No joke. Compound fracture. Thank GOD it didn't break through the skin.
Post morphine. He knew that his bone was broken and was telling everyone that he heard it crack.
Before they gave him the morphine, they ask him what his pain level was and showed him the chart. He told them a 10. While I was talking to him I ask him again about his pain level and explained that a 10 is the worst pain ever and that at a 10 most people are crying. I ask him if his pain was that bad - he said yes - but he had no tears, at all. Since I am SO in touch with my feelings (some call it 'emotional basket case', but they are just mean)
this didn't sit well with me, so I told him that it was OK to cry if he was in that much pain. He told me he could cry, but he didn't want to annoy people. MY HEART BROKE. I told him to annoy away...this is a time that it was perfectly fine to annoy people. That is when he said, "Mom, I didn't do my random act of kindness today, so this is my random act of kindness
. I'm not going to cry so I don't annoy people."
How freaking precious is that?
I thought it was cool that they brought the x-ray machine to him. Look at that lump on his arm....my stomach is churning just looking at it.
Finally after about 4 hours in Darnell, they decided to send him to Dell Children's Hospital in Austin. At this point I hopped in the car and headed home to grab a few things as I knew we were in it for the long haul now. When I got home, I started throwing things in my bag getting ready to leave - that is when Boy 1 came in freaking out telling me something is wrong with Max (our dog). OH DEAR GOD....are you kidding me?!?! I don't have time for this!! Apparently after someone (I won't mention any names here) cleaned the kitchen after dinner they didn't put the trash away....(we had a roasted chicken for dinner) and Max decided to help himself to the garbage. As he was enjoying a nice chicken bone (yes, I KNOW they are bad for dogs) it got stuck in between his teeth and across the roof of his mouth. Again...ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I have a kid in the ER and a dog that needs to go to the Vet ER. OH MY GOSH - where is that drink I poured myself hours ago? I tried to get the bone out, but couldn't. I needed to get back to the ER so I could ride in the ambulance it with Boy 3. CALGON!! When I got back to the ER I told Hubby about the dog - he headed home to shower and to see what he could do about the dog...
Once we got to Dell Children's Hospital we had to wait again. They didn't want to do surgery until 12 hours after Boy 3 had eaten dinner. SO we WAITED some more. At about 4:30AM they wheeled us into the room he would be in after surgery. At 5:30AM they took him down to surgery. Boy 3 needed a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and he needed another type of pediatric surgeon (I can't remember the name...) on stand-by as the main artery that does down the front of the humerus bone had been displaced and if anything went wrong, he needed to be close by. Boy 3's doc was amazing! He told us that best case scenario he would be out of surgery in 1 hour. If he wasn't out in 1 hour he would have someone come talk to us. He was out in 50 minutes!
OH, and while he was in surgery we were finally able to get ahold of our moving company and put them on hold for the day. AND Hubby told me that he was able to get bone out of the dog's mouth.
Boy 3 on his way to surgery.
Moments after surgery - we call that blue thing his big blue lego. He had to wear it for 48 hours after surgery.
About 24 hours after surgery he took his first walk to check out this AWESOME hospital.
These next pictures were taken about 36 hours after surgery. This is when we went to explore this amazing hospital. There were things for kids to do all over! They had play rooms, where the kids could do anything from art, to video games to build with legos. There was a butterfly wall, a bat wall and a huge wall that was a ball maze (in the picture above). The pictures below are in the MIDDLE of the hospital! They had an atrium with waterfalls and gardens on each floor. Boy 3 wanted his picture taken on every floor.
As Boy 3 was checking out of the hospital the toy cart came by! Boy 3 got to pick out a toy and a book to take home! How fun is that?!
OH, and through it all we did manage to get our stuff on the moving truck - even though the rain held us up for a while.
With PCS season upon us and today actually being the FIRST of many pack out days for us I thought today was a good day to share my thoughts with you....
I try really hard not to stress over moves, the more we move the easier this gets. I don't start 'prepacking' weeks early; I only do so a few days early. I make sure the kids are out of the house. I oversee the movers. I have them wrap my antiques. Ziplock bags are my friend. I have ask movers to repack things. I don't let them bump my furniture into the walls! I tell them (in a nice way) the way I like things packed and labeled! I have asked movers to leave my house. I ask them nicely NOT TO DUMP drawers or toy bins into boxes. I expect things NOT to be perfect when I arrive to my destination. I also expect to find the remote to my TV in the box labeled Christmas (if I did not ATTACH the remote to the TV - which I ALWAYS do now), and my bedside lamp in the box marked garage. I've learned after 11 Army moves that these things just happen. I've also learned that having a good bottle of wine on hand always helps at the end of a pack day!
When I ask my military sister wives (haha...you like that don't you?!) what they always do when PCSing I got some GREAT advice! See what they have to say -
Be ready for the date to change! ~ Jenna Good advice from my sweet friend Jenna! I've heard of this happening MANY times, it hasn't necessarily happened to me, but I have friends that their entire PCS got changed, date, location and all!
Hide the stuff you don't want them to pack!!! ~ Monica Again, more solid advice! The stories we hear! The worst that has ever happened to me is that our soap ~ an open bar of soap was packed, along with everything else in the shower. Why anyone would toss a used bar of soap in a box is beyond me. I know many people who have had their garbage, dog food, baby formula and PASSPORTS packed. Make sure you separated your things people! Oh and watch your pets, I have heard of a cat being packed as well! Can you imagine unpacking that box? "Oh, that's where Sponge Bob went!"
Avoid good-byes. ~ Liz This is something us Military Wives do well. We choose to say see you later, if we even stop by to see you off at all. It's just too hard sometimes.
Be prepared to lose money. ~ Beverly This is a given. Although the military gives you a moving allowance, it is NEVER enough (especially once you have kids!).
Remember to make it an adventure! ~ Kelly This is GREAT advice! Don't want to move to a destination the military is sending you? SUCK IT UP....call the chamber of commerce and ask if they have a list of "top things to do" in the area. Make it fun! If you can't find something to do, MAKE something to do!
Take a deep breath ~ Tracy (AND have a glass of wine.)
Make sure you reserve on post lodging the day you find out you are moving! ~ Shayna Because if you are moving in peak moving season and you don't make a reservation go ahead and take your tent with you because you will be camping!
Pack your underwear yourself! ~ Lisa Bahahaha!!
Have plenty of wine on hand! ~ Pam Pam IS a girl after my own heart!
Expect the unexpected! ~ Carey-Leigh And then some!
Feed the movers well and let them know you will tip generously if/when they do a good job. ~ Lori Just like a kids, rewards work wonders!
Empty your trash! ~ Lori Because if you don't, you just might see it in your new house!
Ziplock all the magnets from the fridge, Polly pockets, pens and pencils. ~ Tori I also ziplock all my curtain hardware and tiebacks, silverware, really anything that belongs together that could get lost or misplaced!
Prepare yourself for lost or damaged household goods. ~ Michelle And if it doesn't happen consider yourself blessed.
Disassemble your own furniture, bag up the screws, nuts/bolts and allen wrenches and pack those along with your screw drivers, pliers, drills and bits in a Green Bay Packer tool box and put it in your trunk so that you have everything you need to assemble it at the end. Movers are absolutely worthless at this. ~ LeAnn I don't know about the Green Bay Packer tool box, but everything else seems right on.
Send your kids off to visit family ~ Charlotte If only it were that easy.... :o)
Know what your furniture looked like before it left...take photos and really read the bill of lading (lost stuff because of that!) & never let them fully unpack unless you want them to see al your "unmentionables!" ~ Roxanne I tell them seeing my unmentionables IS their tip! Haha!
Don't be afraid to ask the movers to take note of a few things. I have some unusual, fragile art pieces that I can’t'/don’t want to replace. I asked our last guys "I know this looks like a silly ____ but it is SO important to me. Please wrap this up really well for me?" smillllleeee! It is worth it.. Very few losses in all of our moves. Never filed a claim. ~ Tracy Kindness typically wins in the end!
Count all your kids! ~ Diane I thought we lost something on the last move!
Save every TV remote, taping it to the TV doesn't count, it will be gone by the time your HHG arrive. ~ Rachel
Hey Rachel, maybe we have some of your remotes ~ tonight as we were going through them we found 2 extra!
Ask your packers to make box #1 your hardware box. Put all hardware, screws (labeled of course), remotes, etc... in this one box. The German's do that on this side of the pond, but the American's don't. Put those "do not pack" items in the trunk of your car. Because just putting them in a room with a SIGN that says "do not pack" isn't always good enough. ~ Heidi
I would say take a little mini-vacation right before the movers come, just to see a favorite sight, and take lots of pictures. Make sure you download them & send to a family member/friend before you get on the plane with the camera. And either label your camera with your email address and a note about a hefty reward, or bring a camera you don't mind losing on the plane... ~ From my SMARTASS friend Kim. SO what if I did this ONCE. :o) Bite me.
Realize it is going to be crazy for a little while, but in the end it will be fine. ~ Tim AMEN. It will all be worth it when you wake up from that moving hangover in a few short weeks!
Have lots of cold beer...shot of "Jack" and know when to stay clear of "Household 6". ~ Randi Rand-i (as I lovingly call him) is correct! He just needs to add - have plenty of wine on hand to serve to Household 6
DO NOT feed the packers pizza! and prepare yourself for those 10 pounds that we always gain! HA! ~ Wanda Really? I always feed them pizza.
Go visit someone and let your husband do it.... ~ Suzy And I do believe this is the best piece of advice any of my friends had to offer!
And so it begins:
He's back! The world is right again. The kids are happy, I'm happy, life is good....
For a few days anyway......We have done this reintegration thing 3 times. This time is our 4th time. I thought we had it down pat. I was wrong. Hubby came home and all was good for 4 whole days. Then it hit, the rough patch came and it threw me for a loop. What the heck? We are old hats at this. Typically we don't even fight, and we especially don't fight 4 days after Hubby gets home from war. What is going on in my perfect little world? I am crushed, not only were we fighting, but it was so bad I was ready to send him back to Afghanistan and I'm serious. Girl was so upset that when I went to tuck her in she was crying and begging me to stop fighting with her Daddy - she didn't sleep much that night and neither did I. What were we fighting about you ask? Stupid shit. Seriously. Stupid S H I T. He felt like I did too much while he was gone and that I was too controlling (HELLO - I've been the only adult here for a year, yes, I'm controlling and while you were away did you forget I am Type A?). I hated that he came home and went straight to work on the house - cleaning out stuff and trying to take charge when all I wanted him to do was sit back and hang out with me and the kids. I wanted him to have a little down time, relax and have fun! I wanted to stare at him, touch him and savor the moments. What is wrong with him I thought - why doesn't he want to spend every second with his family? I was hurt and crushed and quite honestly I wasn't being very nice about it.
That is when I had to take a look at myself and remember a few things:
1. - He is the boss at work
. When he tells the children what to do, they look at me to make sure it is OK and then I give them the nod. This can't be a good feeling for him.
2. - He has been living by himself for 1 year.
Seriously, think about that. He has lived by himself for 1 year, and then he is thrown back into this crazy life of 4 kids, a wife and a dog. Even though it is good stuff can you imagine? He can never get away. Someone is always hanging on him demanding his attention because he is like a new toy to us. We can't get enough of him. We want to love on him, ask questions and just be near him - CONSTANTLY. Geezs, if I were him I would fake going to work! No joke!
3. - He rarely had to report to people
. Now all of a sudden I'm asking him all kinds of questions, telling him he needs to be here for this, and there for that, don't forget that so and so needs this.... and I'm constantly asking him where he is going what he is doing, blah, blah, blah....this has got to make him insane.
4. - Not only is reintegration hard, but let's throw an overseas move on top of it, just because we can. I'll be surprised if we are still married after all is said and done. (I'm just joking, back off ladies, I still love and adore him! ;-)
He is an INTJ on the Meyers Briggs Personality
test....I'm an ESFJ
. If you know anything about Meyers Briggs, you will know that an ESFJ is a bit much
for an INTJ at any given moment
, not to mention during reintegration. My emotions and feelings are hanging right out there on my sleeve, on his sleeve, really on anyone's sleeve that will listen. INTJ's well, not so much.
So why do I tell you all this? For those young military wives that think they are alone in this, you are not. I'm a (cough)
"seasoned" wife and I've been around this block a few times and it is different every single time! We all have our ups and downs. Life is hard no matter who you are or what path you are on. You just need to keep your shoulders back, chin up and move forward! (A good friend told me this just today!)
I'm in it for the long haul and if that means I need to take a look at myself and change a few things then that is what I am willing to do. I am SO honored and SO proud to live this Army life with the love of my life ~ even when the road gets bumpy.....
Remember that feeling you would get when you were a kid of something happening that was so exciting that you couldn't sleep the night before? For me it was the night before Six Flags each year. I remember one particular sleep over at a friend's house in JR High, we stayed up all night doing each other's make-up (and when I say doing each other's make up, it wasn't pretty - boy I wish I had pictures of that!) and then we were up, dressed, ready to go and waiting outside HOURS before my sister-in-law was to pick us up. Ahh, I have that feeling again! Something so exciting is happening that I feel like my heart is going to beat out of my chest. After a long year apart Hubby is on his way home. The excitement is almost more than I can bear.
Along with all that excitement comes so many more feelings, thoughts and questions that run through my head....Here is a sample of what goes through my head as my spouse returns from war:
*What will I wear to the reunion?
*Will he still think I am beautiful, I mean this deployment has taken it out of me, I have more wrinkles than I could ever imagine, I'm not at my perfect weight, I can't seem to get rid of those dark circles under my eyes, and THANK GOD for hair color!
*Oh gosh, the house has to be perfect...."Don't walk on the floors!"
*Crap, I have to clean off the desktop of our computer - he can't stand all my files being right out in the open.
*What will the kids wear?
*How will he adjust to being in such a rambunctious house after living in a chew all by himself for over a year?
*I really need to get the tires on his jeep rotated.
*I wonder how much he has changed.
*I hope I haven't changed too much.
*What will I fix for dinner on his first night here?
*Will things between us be weird?
*Will he mess with the A/C? I hope he remembers how cold I like to keep the house.
*OH CRAP, I can't remember his favorite soda....Diet Coke, or Diet Cherry Coke?
*WHY can't I find Singha in this God forsaken town?!?!? That is all the man has asked for!
*Will we mold back together as parents and have a united front as we once did?
*Will the kids play us against each other?
*Why do my children seem so calm when I feel like I could have a panic attack at any moment? Is something wrong with them, or me?
*I just said "my children" - oh no, what does that mean? Am I too independant?
*Why am I sitting at this computer when I should be cleaning?
*I'm used to living alone, being the boss, how is he going to fit back into our family?
*I really need to fill those picture frames hanging on the wall.
*I really need a manicure and pedicure, but I don't think I will have time.
*OH, I really need to shave my legs.
*Will the kids like him more than they like me?
*Will he be happy to be home or will he want to run away?
*Will I be happy to have him home or will I want to run away?
*Will friends and family understand that we need and want family time without having people tugging at us from all different directions?
*Will he still love me?
Isn't that crazy?! I can't believe I (and so many other spouses) put myself through this, but each and every time Hubby deploys for extended periods of time I go through these feelings of happiness, excitement, uneasiness and straight up fear! I know everything will be fine. It may or may not be a tough adjustment (every deployment is different), but I know we will make it through another reintegration cycle. As it says at the top of my blog, we are....
Army Family, Army Strong.
Last week I was talking to my brother over Facebook when I nonchalantly said, "I'm not even going to bother getting it fixed, I move to Korea in less than three months." As I typed those 4 words, LESS. THAN. THREE. MONTHS I had an internal freak out. Are you kidding me? LESS. THAN. THREE. MONTHS. That part isn't the real kicker, the kicker is all the thing I have to do BEFORE we move that have nothing to do with the move itself. Not to mention that we don't have family orders yet. Hubby has them for himself, but we are waiting for our family command sponsorship to come through, and if you think I'm sending him away for two years without our family, think again! HEY KOREA, USFK, anyone out there listening?!?! I would REALLY like to have our family orders IN HAND so I can finish up what needs to be done on this end!! Fort Hood sent the request over a month ago!! I've got work to do over here and my time is dwindling. Did I mention that I'm a planner? (Yes, I do realize I should just be happy that I know this far out where we are moving to next.)
I need orders in hand to: book travel, book moving companies (we will have 3 different pack outs), get Boy 1's drivers license since we have to report to Korea 6 Days before his 16th birthday....they tell me that if I have ORDERS WITH HIS NAME on them he should be able to get his driver's license BEFORE he turns 16, but I'm still waiting for those orders. Hello people in high places in Korea... I know I can wait for Hubby to get some of this done, but I would really like to get it done before he gets back (because I am good wife - stop laughing! :) so we can spend the last 6 weeks of our time here at Hood doing all the things that need to be done as a commander is changing out of command Not to mention that he will have just come back from a war zone and will need a tiny bit of a break before he moves overseas again...
Let me break it down for you:
4 weeks till Hubby comes home
9 weeks till Hubby's Change of Command
11 weeks till we clear Fort Hood
13 weeks till we are in South Korea
And SO MANY THINGS in between. Breathe. Just breathe.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, all things that are happening are good it is just that my head is just swirling!
(And yes, I do realize we will not be IN Korea in less than 3 months, but our household goods will be packed and shipped in less than 3 months.)
Over the years many people have ask me about military life, they ask questions like: "Isn't it hard being a military family?" "How can you move your family every few years?" "Isn't it hard on the kids?" "How do your children handle switching schools during the school year?" "How can you handle your husband being gone for long periods of time?" "How do you handle deployments?" And statements like this are made often: "You are so strong; I could NEVER be a military spouse." "I wouldn't be able to move like that - I need a place to call home, a place to have roots"
Let me tell you a little about me: I grew up in the same city from the time I was born until the time I graduated high school. I moved 2 times, once after my Dad died when I was 11 and one time in high school when we moved to another town that bordered my hometown –and that was traumatic! I thought I was going to stroke out then and there. There was NO WAY I was going to go to another high school and I didn't. I used my sister's address so I could remain in the same school. As a teenager I thought that was probably the worst thing that could have happened to me. After high school I moved to another town in Texas not too far from my home town to go to college. After my first year in college I moved to Wyoming to work on a dude ranch for the summer, and that is when I got the 'bug'! Up until this point Texas was all I knew - I had only taken one airplane ride my ENTIRE life (to California after my father's death), and I had been to Oklahoma, but come on who counts Oklahoma as a 'destination'? From there I moved to New York to be a nanny and I went to school part time. Since my time in NY I haven't looked back - I was hooked on traveling. Up until this point I would have NEVER considered living any place but Texas permanetly. I was Texan through and through. If someone had told me back in the day that I would be a military spouse in the future and would be moving every two years on average I would have laughed in their face and told them that they didn't know what they were talking about. Fast Forward to today, 20 + years, 13 moves, 6 states, 2 countries, 4 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 tarantulas, 4 hermit crabs, several water crabs and too many fish to count later, Hubby is going to be the one trying to convince me that it is time to retire from this life. I love *almost* everything about military life. First and foremost I adore my husband. (And not just because he has been deployed for 10 months.) This is not to say we are perfect, because in fact we are FAR from perfect, but I still adore him nonetheless. I love exploring the place the Army decides to make our home for the time being. We try to see as many sights in the area as possible. I love meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. Since we have been an Army family for so long when we move to a new place we always have old friends to meet up with. So, at this point it really isn't like we are starting all over with each new destination. I've learn not to say good-bye to friends, but to say see you at the next duty station. So you see, I wasn't always the adventurous person that I am today.
To answer some of the questions above -
"Isn't it hard being a Military family?" No, not really. It is what you make of it. The way you live life is a choice. Sure we sometimes have a few more challenges than 'normal' families, but to us this life IS normal. We are a family and we have a strong bond. This life is a choice, if you choose to embrace this life then there is nothing you can't do! It is those that choose NOT to embrace this life that have a hard time with it.
"How can you move your family every few years?" Easy! The Army hires movers; it is part of the package deal! They come in and pack you up and they will even unpack you at your destination if you choose to have them do so!
"How do your children handle switching schools during the school year?" I've learn that moving during the school year isn't so bad and the majority of our kids prefer it. This way they can make new friends BEFORE the summer because as you know, summer is VACATION time, lots of families are gone for at least part of the summer making it harder to meet people! This is not to say that saying goodbye for the wee one's isn't hard because it is. There are always tears (and this is the hardest part for me), but thanks to technology kids are able to stay in touch with each other much easier than in the 'olden days' when letter writing and long distance phone calls were the only options!
"How can you handle your husband being gone for long periods of time?" This is relevant. I consider a year a long period time. Two-six weeks is a vacation from cooking and cleaning. I welcome two-six weeks in the field here and there. It does a marriage good. Seriously. When Hubby has been home too long and we start wearing on each other's nerves we know it is time for him to go to the field!
"How do you handle deployments?" One day at a time! I won't lie, deployments are hard. Being away from the one you love for extended periods of time SUCK. Parenting alone sucks. I would HATE to be a single parent. I am so thankful Hubby and I are on the same page (most of the time) when it comes to parenting! The kids and I stay busy during deployments. I volunteer more than normal during deployments. The kids have LOTS of sleep overs during deployments. Porch parties with girlfriends are a MUST! The beauty of deployment is that it makes you realize many things about yourself and your relationship - I have realized that I am a much stronger woman than I ever gave myself credit for and that I love my husband more than I ever thought possible. Plus, I'm the lucky one, I get to keep the kids during deployment - hubby is alone. I don't know if I could live without hugs, kisses, yelling, tattling and all the other things that come with a family for an entire year. Oh, and wine helps too. :o)
"You are so strong; I could NEVER be a military spouse." If this life chooses you and you embraced it, yes you could. In my experience military wives are just like other wives, you do what needs to be done for your family.
"I wouldn't be able to move like that - I need a place to call home, a place to have roots" Humph...we do have a place to call home, it is where we are living at the time. And as for roots, we have those too, ours just happen to dig further into the ground and spread wider than 'normal' roots. Our roots are our family values, morals, integrity, each other, our military community, our biological family and the way we give back to the community we live in at the time. Remember how I told you we have military family where ever we move to? Those are parts of our roots and like I said, they spread far and wide! We may not have one particular house to return to, but we do have each other to return to. That is home and that is where our roots begin.
Since this is such a hot topic I ask friends to tell me one thing they LOVE about being a military spouse. Here are some of their answers:
I love the lifelong friendships that I make at each duty station. ~ Crystal
That my husband is a bad ass. He would be anyway, but seeing him in camo with a gun. Mmm. He's hot! ~ Tori
I love the moving...not all the glasses I unpack...I love the friendships...I love the opportunities...dear Lord I could go
on.... ~ Suzy
I lived in the same town until I was 29 and I LOVE moving! Knowing there's a new adventure ahead every 2 or 3 years keeps me sane! ~ Carey-Leigh
I love the travel, our lifestyle, the power as a spouse that we discover as we grow (separations), we can move anywhere and convert a shack into a home, our kids talk about countries we visit not parks so much....I can go on
:) ~ Carmen
I love the moving and adventures of living in a new town. Each time we get orders I get excited to GOOGLE our new place and find exciting things to do...I love being proud of my husband and the sacrifices he makes for our family and Country. And...I love making new friends that become your family! Being from Fort Benning...I love the pride that a Military Community shows toward the USA! ~ Tracy
I love that no matter where I go, the "Sisterhood" goes with me. :) ~ LeAnn
I love that it shows you how much you really love your spouse. I think people throw marriages away every day...but when the love of your life leaves the country to go get shot at, you realize how much he means to you. And you realize how strong you are. Being in the Army has strengthened our marriage more than anything else could have. ~ Peggy
I like that it forces me out of my comfort zone, so I can be all I can be and I'm NOT in the Army! ~ Rachale
I love the adventure and the wonderful people I meet along the way! ~ Cyndi
The people I get to meet! ♥ ~ Becky
I love all the amazing friendships I have made. No matter what happens in your life, these are the women that will be by your side in a minute. ~ Michelle
The challenges we have daily aren't the obstacles so many perceive hem to be....the challenges are like a good spice blend, testing us and challenging us to think outside of the box! It's a blessing! And I would agree about all the
hubby things and the girlfriend "sisterhood." We've learned it truly isn't goodbye but until we meet again... ~ Roxanne B
I have the biggest family with homes all over the world! ~ Roxanne S
And to be fair I ask them what they dislike about being military spouse:
The waiting.... I love having my hunny by me. And I know it is his duty to go where they send him...I just hate
the wait (will always wait for him) but i hate that time more than anything. fear of the unknown i guess. ~ Loretta (Her hubby is about to do a 1 year unaccompanied - that is right, she can't go- tour to Korea)
I've found those people that I want to be old and senile with, but they live all over the flippin globe. How the hell am I going to get to all those patios? ~ Jefanna
Having to say good-bye, even thou it's short term because I know there is a Hello! on the other end! ~ Roxanne
Coming across a spouse who wears her husband rank! ~ Wanda
When non-military people forget that there are still people in war zones fighting or in danger, finding a new hair person/church every time we move, leaving good friends behind, developing new allergies, trying to hang the dang curtain rods in cheap dry wall... ~ Rachel
incessantly having to start over . . . and wives that complain the longest and the loudest, but when it comes down to it, they have NO clue what they are talking about . . . ~ Allison
Deployments. Having to leave good friends. ~ Becky
Moving to a place that I don't like or a place that is not on "MY" list of places to live. ~ Beverly
Unpacking glasses, hoping my boys are okay, missing fun friends....and leaving ideal weather.........the large amounts of money, that is not reimbursable to start up a new home.....condiments, some dinners out, cleaning supplies, etc...... ~ Suzy
"knowing" where you're PCSing next, only to have it ripped away and somewhere completely different given to you...not that that's happened to me of course..... LOL...and we always seem to find the city's BEST pizza about 3 weeks before we move...how does this consistantly happen??? ~ Cara
Wondering...will this be a door to door move or....will I actually have a house when we get there....hoping the school system isn't a complete failure....please tell me there's a whole foods or Trader Joes near by.....will I like my neighbor.....one more house with suck as* carpet.... ~ Nancy
Unpacking, saying good-bye, and dealing with your kids heartaches due to leaving friends behind--so hard! ~ Kelly
Curtains...I have 2 boxes of them! I just want uniform WINDOWS...is that so much to ask? ~ Jamie
Having to much furniture or not enough furniture depending upon the house that we are moving to, leaving friends, finding a good dentist and hair stylist, and having to interview for a new job (I really hate this part!). ~ Jane
My kids having to leave their friends is harder for me then leaving my own, routine changes, having to find quality athletic/sports for my kids to participate in (good gym for gymnastics, soccer league, piano teacher), shopping locations and feeling like the first day in high school when you size up who you will pal with:) ~ Carmen
So, as you see, this military life isn't so bad, and as for me, I wouldn't change a thing...wait scratch that....I wouldn't change much about it....
Each month of deployment our battalion has held a large event in hopes of helping spouses connect with each other and to help the time go by more quickly. It is true that you cannot speed up time, but during a deployment time seems to move slower than a turtle running a 5K.
Month 10 (yes we are ALMOST THERE!!) was marked by having a Cav Hatters Tea Party! The theme of this even was "the many hats we wear'. We ask participants to come dressed in their Sunday best and to wear a "Cavalicious Hat" (store bought or homemade) that shows the many hats you wear as a military spouse. We had some amazing hats as you can see ---->!
At our monthly events each company (there are several companies in a battalion - six in our battalion) battles it out for the coveted Traveling Trophy. When a company 'wins' the trophy they take it for the month and add something to it. This is what the trophy looked like in the beginning:
And this is what it looked like before the Cav Hatters Tea Party:
Things that have been added: Stetson, small base, larger base, pink sparkle spurs, spur key chain, musical notes, pinecone turkey, Christmas ornament & tacky tinsel!
The Fort Hood Culinary Arts Team graciously made all the desserts for us!
I love the detail on many of the hats...notice the peanuts for Georgia and the flip flops for Hawaii?
Don't you just love the two naked baby girls on top of the 'S'? ;o)
This was my hat...
Another view of my hat.
The over-all hat winner! I wish I had a better picture of this one...she ran out of room on her hat, so she had to extend it into a veil!
Ops Company decorated the room and turned it into a Cav Wonderland!!
Musical notes, Stetson...can you guess who this hat belongs to? (Hint, the 1st Cav Band is in the HHBn Battalion!)
I just love the 'Bow Heads'!!
Love my Cavalicious girls!
All things that glitter!
Our British Spouses hat! She is always so elegant!
It sparkles, just like our spouses!!
And the company that walked out with the traveling trophy for this event was Ops Comany!!
Ops Company set up a photo booth for our guest to take silly pictures! How fun is that?
Our guest speaker was AMAZING! Teri drove in from Lousiana to talk to us about the many hats we wear. She was funny, inspirational and by the time she left she was a part of the HHBn Cav family! She is not only beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well.
She put on at least 10 different hats to represent the different hats we wear on a daily basis!
While wearing this hat she was heckled by someone in our audience (all in fun of course!).
Teri's sister came to offer support! :o)
What a great afternoon with a bunch of great ladies!! Only 2 more months to go!! We can do this!
Being a new army spouse can be daunting. You come into a community where they have a lifesyle and language all their own. When I was a new Army spouse, most of the time I had no idea what people were saying. Army wives, soldiers and my own husband were constantly speaking to me and each other in acronyms. I would meet new people, start talking to them and they would speak "Army" to me. I would nod pretending I knew what they were saying. Now I am 'one of them' and often times I find myself speaking in acronyms. I try to keep my 'early days' in mind and try to explain what I am saying to civilians or newbies. This Army life can be challenging, and if you don't have a clue what people are saying you just might feel like you are not a part of that inner circle. With that being said, I feel it is my duty as a (cough, cough) seasoned Army spouse to help you with a few of the most common acronyms:
PCS - Permanent Change Of Station - MOVING, we are MOVING. I don't know why they have the "P" in there because in 2-4 years you will be PCSing again. Really there is no "P" in the Army.
LES - Leave Earning Statement - REALLY? It is a pay check stub, however to be able to read it you must take a class. True Story.
TDY - Temporary Duty, come on folks, it's a business trip!!
***PX & BX - Post Exchange and Base Exchange. Wal-Mart type store on Military instillations. - Make sure you see notes on Post and Base at the bottom.
ACU, BDU - Army Combat Uniform, Battle Dress Uniform. This is what the soldier wears, the CAMOFLAUGE uniform(that seems to be changing every few years now) that makes my heart go pitter patter every time I see my husband in it.
BAH - Basic Allowance For Housing, if you have been associated with the military for as long as I have you know that is used to be called BAQ which stood for Basic Allowance for Quarters. This is the amount of the money the military pays you for your housing allowance - I have many friends that think housing is FREE in the Army. It is not. You pay for it and your BAH typically does NOT cover your housing cost.
AWOL - Absent Without Official Leave - this can be used for the teenager as well as the soldier - "Where is Boy 1?" "I don't know he is AWOL." For both the soldier and the teenager this means BIG TROUBLE.
PT - Physical Training - WORK OUT, something soldiers are required to do to start their morning. Something military mom's do to their children when they are in trouble. "Do you want me to PT you?!"
CAV - Cavalry! Not to be confused with the church - Calvary. The Cavalry - bleed yellow and black. Need I say more?
TC - Tank Commander - a bad ass soldier.
POV - Privately Owned Vehicle - a soldiers car. Soldier: "Honey, will you bring the POV to me?" Spouse: "Really, what else would I drive, your tank?" Real conversation - no lie.
FUBAR -Fucked Up Beyond Any Repair - No more explanation is needed.
CIF -Central Issue Facility - a place to check out extra crap the Army makes your soldier take and the place where you turn the crap back in and when you are PCSing AND when something is missing or it is FUBAR they charge you an arm and a leg.
CONUS - CONtinental United States - what is wrong with just US? Really?
OCONUS - Outside the CONtinental United States - O V E R S E A S
MP - Military Police - just as it sounds. I have nothing smart ass to say here.
CO - Commander - first in charge of a Company, Squadron, Unit, Battalion, Brigade... you get the idea.
XO - Executive Office - second in charge of all things listed above.
NCO - Non-Commissioned Officer. An Enlisted Person With Command Responsibility; Corporal To Command Sergeant
CSM - Command Sergeant Major - One scary MF'er
SF - Special Forces - Cocky soldiers that think they are bad ass. OK, they are. :o)
MRE - Meal Ready to Eat - They come in brown plastic sealed bags and last F O R E V E R I don't even think they have an expiration date. If I had to eat them on a regular basis I would never have to worry about that extra 10 pounds.
SOP - Standard Operating Procedure - A book with directions for everything. If you do something new, you must write a SOP for it before you do it.
AAR - After Action Review - something you must write AFTER an event, every time. Period.
OPSEC - Operational Security - the shit you can't put on Facebook or talk about on an unsecure phone line
ACS - Army Community Services, a place you to take classes to learn what all this means.
A few other things commonly said:
Household 6 - Hubby has called me Household 6 from day one. Day one I had no idea what that meant, now I do. It means I AM THE BOSS
Roger that - I've got it, I will comply (or when a wife says this to her military husband she is trying to get him to stop beating a dead horse.)
I'm Tracking - I am following the story....
And MY PET PEEVE:
For the most part this holds true even though there are a few exceptions to this rule:
Post = ARMY
Base = Air Force / Marines
Please do not confuse these three. ESPECIALLY if you are a SOLDIER!!!!! (Or a spouse of a soldier.)
And that concludes your lesson for the day! Please feel free to leave comments with you favorite Acronyms or sayings! And you SF guys - it was a joke! Don't go all SF on me! :o)
As an 'experienced' (notice I did not say senior) military spouse I always feel for and try to encourage those going through their first deployment, making their first military move, or even sending the love of their life off to train for a few weeks that very first time. I remembered the first time I sent my hubby off. It was torture. I made a big Thermos full of coffee for him (which I learn later that I forgot to put the inside cap on so he ended up spilling hot coffee everywhere), loaded him up with baked goodies and I had NO IDEA how I was going to let him go. I was standing outside in a parking lot in the dark in Fort Knox, Kentucky crying like a baby. What on earth was I going to do with myself living in a state where I didn't know many people, had no family and now the love of my life just pulled away in a big white bus and he was going to be gone for TWO WHOLE WEEKS! Today, two weeks is over in the blink of an eye, what I would give for a two week TDY (temporary duty station, aka business trip for you civilians).
Today I try to encourage that young or new spouse by letting her know that it gets easier, and someday they will appreciate when their spouse goes TDY for a couple of weeks. Honestly, the first time I heard this I thought - I thought, 'she must not love her husband as much I love my guy. How can she ever think I will get use to this?!' OH! How I thought this spouse was HORRIBLE! Little did I know that 20 years later I would be that horrible woman telling you, "You will get used to it, and at times you will even welcome it". Military life can be hard at times, but you must learn that from everything you go through there is a lesson, at the time it may seem like the hardest thing you have ever done, but if you take that lesson and just try a little to pull the good from it the next time you will be better equipped to handle that separation, that move, that sick child or whatever the case may be. That first time without my Hubby felt like the hardest time of my life. Little did I know it was just preparation for 4 long deployments and many shorts separations in between. (By short I mean 2 weeks - 3 months.)
So, I ask some of my military sisters a simple question: If you had one piece of advice for a young or new military spouse what would it be? Here are some of the answers I received:
*Learn from those who have gone before you....there is something to be said for experience. ~ Marla
*Have a really good sense of humor! ~ Barb
*Turtle, Turtle. Be like a turtle. A turtle has to stick their neck out to move forward. To a young military spouse the Army life can be daunting; however, if you just stick your neck out a little, you will move forward in your Army life. ~ Krista
*Army is a culture/a lifestyle...when given lemons make lemonade. You have the choice of becoming part of the resolution or part of the problem. ~ Carmen
*Be positive and surround yourself with positive people. ~ LeAnn
*Every time you move, remember that you only get out of a place what you’re willing to give it....so jump in, make friends, volunteer for your favorite causes and explore! If you wait too long, it's time to move and you've missed it. ~ Kelly
*This is a journey you have to embrace. Flexibility and a positive attitude is a must. It is up to you to make each situation the best for you and your family. ~Yvonne
*Always count your blessings, dwelling on the good stuff helps get you through the hard stuff. ~ Rachel
*Mine would be tell her to run...haha just kidding, I agree getting involved is key, also be prepared, so many women are shocked when hubby has to leave for work, be prepared for it and it will be easier to get through it! ~ Lauren
*I would tell her to be supportive but not to lose herself and her interests. Surround yourself with a great group of women that will build you up. Also, PATIENCE (I still need to work on that one)! ~ Rebecca
*So far, the one insight I have is always have a back-up plan, especially if you have kids. ~ Sara
*I think it is imperative to say never stop talking with your spouse especially when the conversations get hard. Too much time apart without really talking equals a breakdown in the marriage. Keep talking!!! ~ Tammy
*I would say the same thing and add to try to get plugged into a church as well. ~ Tori
*Also, embrace change, don't fight it. Everything changes, so the more you fight it; the harder it will be on you and your family. It is important to be flexible and understand that things won't always go in the direction you have
planned out. And even though I do work, I still want to be involved as much as possible, so I am always willing to volunteer. ~ Sara
*Stay true to yourself. Find a hobby, a passion, go back to school. Don’t lose yourself, just because you are a military spouse does not mean you do not have an identity! ;) Stay strong but remember it’s ok to cry. Find a battle buddy to help get you through the bad times and laugh through the great times. Reach out to our families of the Fallen & Wounded Warriors in any way possible. Lastly, don’t be too hard on the FRG leaders both good and bad. I have learned so much from both types. ~ Liz
*I am still a young spouse, the ranks we've went through, Wow! I would tell her to not be that wife. You know the one who flashes her husband’s rank and think she wears it on her chest as well. Rank does get things accomplished
quick but so does kindness and hard work. Most would never guess that I am an officer’s wife. In James there is a scripture that says be humble and he will take care of you. If it wasn't for a LTC wife that told me when my husband
commissioned to not be "that wife" it would have been very easy to let the maxed put pay grade for prior service and the rank of my husband to go to my head. I can definitely tell we are more respected and trusted by everyone in my hubby's unit for our approach to the army system. ~ Rachel
*Be yourself! A little humility goes a long way - learn to go with the flow, which goes in line with being flexible (like a freaking Chinese acrobat!!) don't sweat the small stuff and most importantly - have a sense of humor!! Seriously, some of this stuff you can't make up!! I'm writing a book someday! ~ Allison
*I think everyone's nailed it on the head. Along with everyone else's wonderful advice I’ve always said to avoid becoming one's own island. It’s really what everyone else has said (along with remaining flexible, patient,
etc.). regardless of ...how independent i am i still get involved in the community, i have created wonderful
friendships, I’ve taken advantage of what the local area has to offer, etc. also, along with being flexible, i think spouses need to keep in mind that becoming bitter and angry at the Army due to the pace of training, deployments
etc. only hurts yourself and your family. It will color everything you do, everything you say, the relationships you create. Embrace those separations as periods of growth, as opportunities to strengthen the bonds of your marriage. If
you are exhibiting negativity it's only going to make things harder on your family, including your soldier. I’ve seen too many wonderful ladies be consumed by rage and bitterness and it's just not pretty. Take the time to revel in unique Army traditions, and create new ones for your family. Embrace change, it's inevitable. From the get go plan for periods of separation: understand your bills, finances, how to take care of the car, be willing to undertake all the household chores without labeling some his/hers because chances are from time to time you'll be handling most or all of it by yourself. And don't forget to take care of yourself! ~ Laura
*I always tell them, "it is what you make it.” If you complain about your current post, deployment, etc. then of course it will be miserable. Seize the opportunity to explore new things and new cultures and make the best of it. As I look back in my 20 years as an army wife, I know there were times that I was that complaining young wife, but now, I cherish all those memoriesas we begin a new chapter in the world of retirement. :) ~Andrea
*The suggestions to volunteer and get involved are spot on, but also recognize when you need to say "no" to take care of yourself or your family. I don't have nearly as much experience as a military wife as some of you do, and only had tomake it through one long deployment/activation, but that advice was helpful to me and has been helpful in
the civilian world, as well. Also, feel free to be protective of your family's time together. After a return from deployment, there will be lots of people who want to see your soldier right away, but feel free to take a few days, if you feel you need to, to reunite as a family first, before making all kinds of plans with extended family and friends. ~ Lara
*After almost 25 years as a military spouse I can say that my walk with God and lots of laughter got me through even the toughest times and remembering that so you think, so you act, so you are. Got me through 14 deployments and I'm still sane! : ) ~ Therisa
*Put God first. Reach out to your "sister spouses". Embrace the WONDERFUL Army family and life style (although challenging at times) by taking advantage of and... appreciating your benefits and locations. Be involved, be prepared, and don’t lose yourself in your hubby's job or position! On a practical note: when you PCS unpack and set up as quickly as possible so you can get out and jump into your community! As a former Army brat and current Army spouse, I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to live this lifestyle! ~ Tammy
*My advice would be to enjoy the ride. You meet amazing people along the way, a true family. This life is NOT for the timid, step out of your box and embrace it. Always remember where you came from, but the road that lies ahead will be just as fun. Most important teach your children to embrace this life as well; they will be much better people in the long run. ARMY STRONG! ~ Lori
*Become explorers wherever you are stationed, there are amazing little spots even in the middle of the desert. ~ Cat
*Get it in writing! Know exactly who gave you the wrong information! ~ Stine
Enjoy the ride of your life....Army Familes, Army Strong!