OK, that’s probably a lie. Your normal is probably pretty much the same as my normal. And I am not jealous of that at all. You've got deployment, reintegration, sudden change of plans, unplanned injuries, PCS’es, TDYs and the rest of the alphabet soup that makes up military life. Am I right?
The people I’m must confession I'm jealous of are the ones who seem to have the Actual Normal. You know, the Normal the rest of the world dwells in. Husbands with nine-to-five jobs. Kids who attend one school and see one pediatrician their entire lives. Spouses who don’t have an entire accordion folder devoted to remembering the details of past addresses and utility companies. Families who send Christmas cards because they want to – not because they need update their address yet again.
Not long ago SpouseBuzzer Heather wrote a fabulous post about Facebook jealousy. She said Facebook made the-grass-is-greener problem so much easier to give in to. After all, there, before your very eyes, in your very own living room, are pictures of the best-of-the-best of your friends and family. Marathons run at lightening speeds, rooms decorated with taste and beauty, children glowing with excellent report cards.
But Facebook isn’t my soul problem (although it does contribute). My problem is in the people I encounter in normal life, whose conversations I hear while I greedily fall off my diet plan in Panera Bread with my pal Mary, or while we both pay for it later in the gym. Their miseries seem so very small. While Mary and I sit and worry over her upcoming move from an Army post to a Marine Corps base, those around us fret over whether the newest fashions match what’s currently in their closets.
I am tired of Military Worries. I want Civilian Normal.
But I’m also not a person to sit around and wallow, especially when it comes to sulking over a life I chose and a Normal I gave up on purpose.
And I know I’m not alone in this. So I came with three ways to remind myself to be happy in my Military Normal – join me in attempting them, won’t you?
Remind myself of the things I love. Those Civilian Normal people may seem to have it made. Sure, my friend from just after college just returned from a vacation to Antarctica (I wish I was kidding), but there is plenty I really do love about military life. For example: I love all the different kinds of people I get to meet. I love the feeling of pride I can take in my family’s service. I love the steady paycheck. And I’d be totally fibbing if I said I didn’t also love the discount tickets, opportunities to do cool adventure trips and use of a free community pool on post. What about you?
Know that Normal People have problems, too. Just because they aren’t Military Problems, being Normal isn’t all peaches and cream. Like Heather pointed out, why would someone post a picture of their dirty house or brag that they had to quit the marathon 20 feet in? Answer: they wouldn’t. The grass generally isn’t as green as it seems.
Remember that I am leading the perfect life for me. I am a big believer in God, fate, a Higher Power … whatever you want to call it. And I believe that everything happens for a reason, that there is a purpose in everything. And so, as a part of that, I always come back to this core conviction: what is going on in my life – my Military Normal – is the perfect normal for me. And so when I sit on the bathroom counter tonight watching my two little kids taking a bath while my husband stays late doing Army paperwork yet again, I can remind myself that this is all as it is supposed to be, that it will all work out for good. An adventure to subzero Antarctica may be the perfect life for my unmarried girlfriend – but I get to do this. And for that I am grateful.