Just a few months ago, I was 22 years old. Fueled by coffee and the exhilaration that comes with spring semester of senior year, I was staying up as late as 3 a.m. to edit my college newspaper.
Now, I’m tapped out and ready for bed around 10 p.m. A certain someone is stalling and it’s past bedtime. A certain teenager wants to stay up late and talk to us--and I know you don’t just let those opportunities pass by. Ever since I married my Army husband (and his kids) I feel like I'm at least 32. Maybe more.
It's weird. It seems that becoming a wife and a stepmom and moving halfway across the country and handling the whole I’m-not-living-with-my-parents-anymore-and-I-have-to-figure-out-this-household-managing-thing while preparing for graduate school will do that to you. All while not-so-patiently waiting for your home state to update your driver’s license so you can hopefully be enrolled in DEERS some time within the next year. Or three. Remember the “Life Comes At You Fast” insurance campaign? It feels more like life sped past and I’m trying to catch up.
Meanwhile, my friends from my home state are on different paths. I worried that I’d be a black sheep with the other military wives—not old enough to share parenting stories with other women, but definitely not about to stay out late on a weeknight (or any night, quite frankly—the weekends are for catching up on sleep).
Plus, there’s the fact that we don’t live on post—I was worried that I wouldn't make friends my age. I worried I wouldn't make friends who understood the whole stepmotherhood thing. I worried I wouldn't make friends my age who could also understand the whole stepmotherhood thing. …
Yet in the two months been married to my soldier, I’ve come to realize something very important: it really doesn’t matter. Age. Parental status. I’ve befriended some really amazing people from all across the country already.
It doesn’t matter that we don’t have the exact same life experiences. We live in the same area and we go to the same chapel. Our spouses serve in the same military branch. We share stories and advice and offer help and grow closer, and I learn so much. The majority of my friends are a good decade older than me. When it comes down to it, it really seems irrelevant. Because between military marriage and stepmotherhood, I think I've aged at least a decade. Really.
Elizabeth Rains is an Army spouse currently stationed in Killeen, Texas. She is 22 and her oldest stepson is 15, while the youngest is 11. "My husband has visitation," said Elizabeth. "Now that we're so far away, we only see them during summer vacation, but we are grateful for all of the time we have!"
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