I don’t share often about the reality of being a military family. It’s something we sort of keep to ourselves, and really just continually go through the motions. But there’s a lot of us; and I want to take some time to share the real life look of what it’s like to be a military spouse.
One of the toughest realities for me, was establishing a career path. As well, being able to continue growing in a field, but being limited to geographic areas. I commonly felt that my career came second. There was no choice on my part where we lived, where we went to next or if an opportunity came my way, that would could move there for it. As someone who feels a lot of fulfillment through career results, this was and still is difficult. Obviously now, we have a very open dialogue about it, but there are still opportunities that we pass up due to geographic location. It’s a very honest conversation you should be upfront about, and see where there is wiggle room and where there isn’t.
This leads into not feeling like you can always take charge in your life. I remember dating my husband in Victoria, BC when my first snippet of reality kicked in. He would say he’d be home around 7pm, I’d stay in, eagerly waiting to spend time with this new love…and then the clock just continued turning. It got later and later. Finally around 10pm, he came home, I was frustrated and confused. That’s when he told me something that I’ve never forgotten and put into place that moment. He said I can’t put my plans on hold around his schedule.
There will be days he’ll be home early, days he’ll be home on time, and days he’ll be late and thats just how it is. In that moment, I decided that I wouldn’t wait on bated breath again.
Resentment. Before I had my current job, I didn’t travel much. When your spouse travels quite often, and you’re at home, not exploring the word- it can be a challenge. It can lead to an overarching feeling of resentment. Of not feeling good enough. Of not feeling enough at all. You take on everything and they get to leave, sometimes to places you dreamed of going, and sometimes not. Sometimes you see pictures of beautiful landscapes, while you sit in a dreary grey gloom of mundanity. You might play the guilt card; I know I did. On phone calls, text or email; the “oh I hope you’re enjoying yourself” notes.
It’s a mental game, and you better get a strong mindset.
Now that I travel just as much, I understand. It’s not fun. It’s not easy, and it’s not a choice. Do you wish you could bring the whole family to these new places? YES, of course! And the only way to make travelling better, is to ensure you’re supporting your companion as much as possible. If there’s a shitty day at home, maybe don’t share very detail. Because I can tell you; the guilt about hearing something, when you’re away and can’t do anything about it, is truly very, very deep.
The one thing that we’re still working on, and likely always will, is our routine. Now that we have Lincoln in our lives, we realize that we’re different parents. Our priorities are different, the way we go about our days are different. And if you are the one at home, or coming home from a work trip- there is an adjustment period. You don’t, (or maybe you do and it’s just us) but we don’t just slip into an easy routine as a family. We need to reset, recalibrate and find our way as a group rather than individuals. There can be tension and some uneasy dialogue, but that’s life. When people are in and out, it’s not normal, and you’re trying to make it normal. Humans are habitual creatures, so it’s OK if it doesn’t feel natural.
There’s so much more, but to the military spouses, families, parents, siblings- I get it. We get each other. There is so much beauty in supporting the country you live, in learning these fascinating trades, in finding a community of like minded people, but there are still many valleys we go through, and many hills to climb. So if like me, you need to check in, vent or know that these feelings are normal, please do so. Connect with me, connect with your support network, and seek out others who unconditionally and without judgement get it.