More and more frequently, people thank me for my service when they find out my husband is a soldier, deployed to Iraq.
I always answer, "He's doing the tough part."
And I mean it. On the balance, of the two of us, my husband has the more difficult job. Clearly we do not suffer the physical deprivations many servicemembers do while at war. Generally speaking, no one is shooting at us on a daily basis.
Still...our duty is not the proverbial slice of cake either. I would not admit it in public, until now, but that, I suppose, is part of the burden of the Military Spouse.
CNN and Fox News do not follow our every move with television cameras, although now I hear there is a television series in the works about us. The world sees what our servicemembers do, but our dramas and drudgeries are a mystery, and therefore largely unsung.
We take over the daily concerns so our servicemembers can fulfill their duty. I am proud to pay the bills, register the vehicles, and clean the kitty litter so my husband can serve his country. Still, sometimes these oh-so-glamorous tasks can seem limiting, stifling. Sure, I've had my share of adventures...but if I leave hearth and home for an extended time to pursue my destiny, who will take care of the cats for me?
Our servicemembers have some illusion of control over their fate in theater, while we can only pray for their safety. It is like driving a car versus flying. Flying is scarier though because it is less mundane, the accidents are bigger and receive more publicity, and we are not the pilots--not that we would want to be. We all know the car is just as, or even more, dangerous but at least with the car we feel more in control. Spouses are the flight passengers in this deployment.
When my husband is not on missions or dealing with the military bureaucracy, he can try the phone bank or pop online to see if I am around (assuming the connections are working and there is no blackout of the electrical or information variety). When I miss my husband and want to chat, I have no way of contacting him.
We keep our trials and tribulations to ourselves. I do this mainly because I do not want my husband distracted. I also bite my tongue because I am almost ashamed at the minor frustrations that count as a "bad day" in my life. Still, the world does not stop turning just because there is a war. The daily disappointments do not necessarily sting less just because someone else's tragedy or sacrifice is greater.
Our servicemembers have brothers and sisters in arms with whom they may commiserate. Since we do not want to lay our daily complaints on our servicemembers, I think it is important that we seek out comrades in waiting as well. That is on of the things I like about SpouseBUZZ!
Of course, we would not "re-up" for the "job" of MilSpouse if there weren't rewards, as well.
I have experienced another region of our Great Nation that I otherwise would have not known. Sometimes those who believe they are cosmopolitan can be the most provincial of all. True, my husband could have been posted in Italy or Germany or some other exciting, foreign locale. Still, I feel richer for having experienced life outside of the Northeast and for learning to "grow where I am planted."
I have learned more about myself during my husband's absences than I would have if I could have always leaned on his strong shoulders.
I have had the opportunity to battle that deadly sin of pride. I cannot always be perfect and yes it is okay to ask for help once in a while. I have to admit I am still working on this one, but I am getting better.
I have made some amazing friends who are among the strongest women (sorry guys, my husband's unit is Field Artillery so no male spouses...but I'm sure you are great friends, too!) I have ever known. They make it easy to ask for and accept help even for someone as stubborn and prideful as I am.
I have had the opportunity to be a small part of something greater than myself.
Most importantly, I am married to my hero.