Yesterday I was asked a question which I've been asked before. Many times. I think reporters like to ask this question of milspouses. I've always tried to answer this question, but I don't really have an answer that fits nicely into a soundbite. Never did, actually.
Well, until now.
What's it like to be a military spouse?
The next time I'm asked the question, I'm going to respond by asking, "How much time do we have?"
After years of over-thinking and trying to figure out how to answer that question in a simple sentence, and the answer was usually quite bland and satisfied neither me nor the questioner, I've finally realized that the only true answer is that my answer varies from day to day. That probably won't satisfy anyone either, but it's the best I can do.
If you had asked me the day before my husband deployed, I would have said, "It's heart-wrenching."
If you had asked me a week before he returned, I would have said, "It's exciting."
If you had asked me the day he returned, I would have said, "It's indescribable."
If you had asked me one random day during a deployment, I would have said, "I am filled with pride."
The next day I would have said, "It's lonely."
The next day I would have said, "It's surreal knowing my husband is honorably serving his country."
And, the next day I would have said, "I worry."
If you had asked me when I moved the first of many times, I would have said, "It's adventurous."
If you had asked me during this last move, I would have said, "It's frustrating."
If you had asked me the day a General asked me what I did for a living and I answered by telling him what my husband does, as if he couldn't have figured that one out, I would have said, "humiliating."
I could go on and on. We say it often around here, but it's so true. Military life offers "the highest of highs and the lowest of lows." But for me, the highs are much too high to let the lows keep me down for too long.
It seems like our lives are often packaged into one little box. A pity box. A "how do they do it" box. A "I'm so sorry" box. A "oh, you move all the time" box. A "you're so strong" box. Rarely do people get to see the nuance, the full picture. Nuance is vital when trying to understand this life and if someone asks me about being a military spouse, it's important to me that I give them a comprehensive view, whether they really want it or not. If we could answer the question, "what's it like to be a military spouse?" in a mere sentence or two, and in a way that allows outsiders to truly get a flavor for our lives, we wouldn't really need forums like SpouseBUZZ, where we dwell in nuance. We've written almost 900 posts about what it's like to be a milspouse, and we've only scratched the surface. I think I'll be 90 years-old and still have things to say about my days as a military spouse. The good old days...
Bottom line - I could give a different answer to the question depending on what day it's asked, but it's highly unlikely that I'll give the same answer two days in a row. And that, for me, is the answer to the question.
So quick, before you think about it too long, in soundbite form, answer the question, "What's it like to be a milspouse," and write the first thing(s) that come to mind.
Next, think about your answer and the question a bit longer (yes, I'm asking you to join me in becoming a compulsive over-thinker), decide if your answer really sums up what you would want people to know and then see if you would want to modify or expand your original answer. Kind of hard to answer the question without a lot of explaining, isn't it? At least it is for me.
Of course, now that I have an answer I like, people will probably stop asking...
Probably a good time to link to this hilarious post. Always good for a laugh.