Guard Wife is a little stressed that she has to be funny on the "Humorous Side to Military Life" panel. She's waiting for bar results (applause)! In her state, she doesn't get a formal letter; she just gets her name put on a website, for all her classmates to scroll through.
AirForceWife introduces herself: I had to bring my kids because my husband is gone. If you see me giving the stink-eye across the room, it's not at you!
She of the Sea: I pawned my kids off on my mother; if she lives within two hours, she HAS to watch them, right?
AWTM: I'm Toddler Mom, but my kids aren't toddlers anymore. My husband is National Guard, I'm getting ready to get back into the work force.
Guard Wife: Whenever you're in a group of spouses, you meet someone who's 1) been there done that, 2) doing it now, or 3) getting ready to do it. I want to go across the panel and ask them what do you wish you'd known when you married into the military. No one tells you these things when you get started. You hear that your spouse is leaving, and you think you're gonna lose weight, paint the house, read books. Someone should tell you that stuff never happens.
AWTM: Write stuff down, cuz you'll forget! I couldn't remember what nursing class I was in when I went into a job interview. Second thing: Never move yourself. 17 years as a wife, I thought I could do this...alone, my husband's gone, and two kids. Completely went insane...and lost 10 lbs. So you can lose weight! But then you eat at McDonalds the whole time and gain it back.
She of the Sea: When money appears in your account and you don't know where it came from, don't spend it! Second, when you get married and your husband says he's going to deploy next January, and you think you can do that next year...what you don't know is that they will also be gone Feb, April, July, Sept, and November BEFORE they leave in January!
AirForceWife: Learn to listen to people instead of telling people what they want to hear. AWTM: AFW told me not to do a DITY...AFW: And now I'm doing one!!!Even people who haven't been in as long as you, they may have different experiences, so there's always someone else who has a piece of info you need.
Guard Wife: How many of you would say you're a control freak? (laughter) I don't always follow my own advice, but sometimes you have to let it go. You can't plan anything. If we get an invite to anyhting, that's always the weekend a month my husband is gone. My sister-in-law is getting married and she's planning her wedding around a friend in the Army. Don't do that! She planned the date specifically for him, and guess who's not going to be there!You're never in control. And if you think it's gonna change, like you're going to get USED to this? Nope. It's not just you; it's all of us. The one lady at your FRG who has a nice outfit and her kid has a wiped nose? She's been working on that for a week...
Now let's talk about our husbands leaving.
Some friends say, "I would love it if my husband went away!" Or they say, "My husband will be gone for a week on business, I don't know what I will do with myself." I know what you can do with yourself!
AFW: The airport story! The first time he went to Iraq was his first war-time deployment. He was coming home just as our son was learning to walk...and since my husband was missing it, I was determined he wasn't going to walk until my husband gets home. He was trying to walk, and I was pushing the kid down! So he was coming into the airport, and I had lost weight and had a cute outfit with knee boots! We see him coming, we start running towards each other, you hear "Dreamweaver" playing in the background...and I fall flat on my face. He said, "Oh, I've missed you so much."
She of the Sea: My husband was deployed and I had my youngest daughter while he was gone. We went to meet the ship, it was my first time doing this. I have taken two cars, for the hoard of kids and in-laws. I heard you had a new mother's tent, and they said, "All the new dads got home last night." When her husband got in, he said, "My wife is the one down there with her finger in someone's face!" He was in his whites, and the kids ran to him and hugged him, and got blueberry muffin all over his white uniform! That's all he was focused on, the blue stains.
AWTM: I don't have a funny story. The first time he came home, we got married, after Desert Storm...that's how old I am! He proposed in a letter from Desert Storm, there was no internet. We got married a week later.The second reintegration I was pregnant, my mother had cancer, and 9/11 happened. It was awful.The third time I was pregnant again; we don't get pregnant because it makes deployments happen. So I was a planner. I freaked out because I wanted everything perfect, and instead I had gained 90 lbs pregnant, I had two kids with cheetos and snot. Used to be, before kids, I welcomed him home with blush on! Instead I smelled like baby wipes. Iraq smells like goat and burning hair, and I was worried that I had to iron the duvet.
Guard Wife: My friends would ask what I was gonna wear to go pick him up. I had no idea it was a big deal, and I made the mistake of asking him what he wanted me to wear. He suggested leaving some underclothes off. Heh. And the problem is that you have to sit in the airport for hours while you're waiting for him to get home. If I'd known better, I would've packed a bag of cute clothes and then changed into them when his plane landed.My husband and I were high school sweethearts. He wanted to get married at 21 and I turned him down. I wasn't ready. I went on to marry another guy, who all of a sudden wants to get out of the marriage. I had just moved to a new house and I got a UPS package...and who do you think the UPS man was? My high school sweetheart.We have so much history, but no matter how long you've been together, it's still weird. It's so awkward, the conversation is so stilted. And sometimes you just have to say is "Let's do this and get it over with and then we can talk."
AWTM: Sometimes the Army tells you to wait 24 hrs to do that! (laughter) Guard Wife: Oh no! That's the one thing you need to take control of! (HA!)
Guard Wife: My grandfather was in the Navy and my father was a baby. They had no contact. But today there's so much contact. I burned videos of our daughter talking and walking. And the other soldiers loved watching the videos, they would ask my husband if he'd gotten a new video in the mail. (So I had to be careful of what I put on the video!) My husband had one roommate who never got anything in the mail. Never.
Audience...what are some of the things you've done to keep in touch?
My husband's been gone since March to Korea, we love Skype. We used to only have a crummy webcam that most of the time didn't work. Now Skype is even better than the phone. For some reason, my husband wanted to be in Korea! Even when he was in Iraq, he wanted to be in Korea!
Guard Wife: My daughter used to like to kiss the computer screen. And my husband would send videos, and she thought that he could see her too. She'd say "Daddy, I'm here!"
Audience: My husband is IA now and he'd get online and we'd play Yahoo Dominoes together online. It was his escape from what he was doing down there. You know when you're at the post office and there's a sign that says "no cell phones please", yeah, forget that!
And if the phone rings while you're here, answer it!!!!
Guard Wife: My classmate was in the bathroom when her cell rang, and I dove for it and answered it. People said, "are you friends with her?" Nope, but I'm sure answering that phone!
Audience: We also played games together online at Pogo.com
Audience: My husband just finished his R&R. We communicate via MySpace often. Oh, my husband is texting me right now!!!! (laughter)
Guard Wife: I lost weight when he was gone, but he gained. I sent him a lot of crap. And I thought it was that the webcam was distorted. He got home, and I realized it wasn't the webcam's fault!
Audience: We were at Hood and it was also my cousin's son's duty station. They were dual military and I had to keep the baby while we were gone, right after we had PCSed. The baby stayed part of the time with us and part of the time with another relative. I used to show the baby photos and point out mom and dad. I was happy and shocked that when they got home, the baby just took to them. I was afraid that he wouldn't recognize them.
AFW: One thing about being a part of the military is that all of you all are my family. My brother is in the Army, and we're close because he understands. If I meet a spouse, I gravitate to her.
LAW: We speak the same language. No one is going to ask you why your husband has to deploy again?
Audience: 1971, my husband was in Vietnam. He would call me and say "Hi, how are you doing, over." I'm great, over. "How's the baby, over?" (laughter) I met him at the airport back then and that was it, no reintegration, nothing. You guys have it good now (audiences nods and groans.)
Guard Wife: We've learned a lot from you Vietnam-era spouses.