Over the weekend, I was in and out of airports. I began talking to a lady about why I was heading to Las Vegas (for a military conference) and explained that I'm an Army wife. She asked me a question that shouldn't have stumped me, but it did.
Oh, what's it like to be an Army wife?
I always seem to have these types of conversations in airports... I understand the reason this question was asked. It really means, "What's it like to be an Army wife during war time?"
I've had this question before. I'm sure many of you have, too. I can't remember how I answered, but I don't recall having a tough time answering. But on this occasion, I sort of stammered and tried to come up with a coherent answer. One that would sum it up just perfectly. Do I go into the wait and worry aspect of being an Army wife? Well, if I do that, it makes it seem that it's a hard life (which it is at times), with no good upsides. That would only get me pity, which wasn't exactly what I was looking for.
Do I say it's really interesting and a lot of fun? Because it is, for me. I've been able to live and travel all over the country, meet new people and experience new cultures. But then, that doesn't really give a complete and total picture of life as an Army wife either, does it?
Hum, I wondered. How do I quickly articulate what I want to articulate? And what is it exactly that I want to articulate? All of these thoughts ran through my head within seconds of the question. I found it difficult to figure out what to say to someone who has no experience with military culture.
I finally said that it's probably much like being married to anyone in a dangerous profession, which is to say that there are periods of separation, anxiety and worry, but there are also periods of extreme pride. I told her that it's definitely an interesting lifestyle, and one that suits me well. She seemed happy to hear that and then went on to ask me how many times we've moved.....
After we separated, I thought about our conversation and I was less than happy with my answer. You know what I should have said?
It's the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But, for me, the highs have always overshadowed the lows.
Kind of vague, but that's how I see it, and I've said it a million times, but it just didn't occur to me on this occasion. I was wrapped up in making sure I didn't over-hype or under-hype military life. I couldn't see the forest for the trees.
How odd that a question as basic as that left me speechless and worried about giving the "right" answer, especially when there is no right answer, just an answer that describes how I feel about being an Army wife.
What would you have said?