You know, military spouses tend to be a "jump in and get it done" group. Or maybe a "go and get'em" group. (And I know that I'm making a huge generalization here, but play along with me.) And when we have the opportunity to do something that will benefit lots of people (your spouse's unit, your kid's school, your neighborhood), it seems obvious that we should do it. It can be hard to rememberthat we've got people at home who need us, too, and our impact on them is a lot bigger than our impact on the rest of the world.
Last week, I was asked to do something that could, potentially, have helped military families as a whole. I was very excited and it sounded like fun. I immediately started scheming to stash my kids with friends and neighbors, reschedule swimming lessons, and generally juggle stuff so that I could participate. Then I realized - it was the last day of camp for two children, and they were having a little presentation. I quickly decided that it couldn't possibly be that important to them, and they'd be fine without me.
Thank goodness I had the sense to ask, rather than tell, the kids. I was quite surprised to hear that it was important to them and that they absolutely wanted me to be there. I'll admit I was a little disappointed.I couldn't believe that I was going to give up something big just to listen to two songs and watch a dance. Then a lightening bolt hit me and I realized that my being there for my two kids was probably of more benefit than whatever else I might be doing that day.
This is by no means to say that I'm going to put every want and need of my family ahead of every want and need of the world. By definition, military families are putting the needs of the nation ahead of the needs of the individual on a regular basis, and I think that is one of the reasons that it is so easy for us to get out of balance. As an adult who has been playing this game for a while, I consider my husband's absence to be perfectly normal, and I try to divvy up my time between self, family and everything else. It is possible that I need to reset my scales a little bit and consider that, for my kids, the rest of the world is already taking it's chunk of their parents. I might need to move the dividing lines around a bit and make a little more time for the people who need me the most right now.