Was it my workout wear? My Christmas dishes? Why didn’t you tell me that I would feel woefully inadequate as an officer’s spouse?
Even though I am a “seasoned” spouse (and ought to know better), I am like a lot of women and compare myself to everyone else. I tend to think that I somehow fall short of the ideal. Ever since my husband got promoted I’ve noticed this more and more.
For example, my first meeting was a welcome to the “leadership” spouse corps at the group commander’s spouse. The house was warm, inviting, and well decorated. Everything had a place. Everything was beautiful, new, and placed in the house like Martha Stewart worked there.
I thought to myself, Wow, I hope someday to be able to decorate like this.
Then a few weeks later, I met the squadron commander’s spouse at her house. Again the house was decorated to the nines. It was fall, and dishes had leaves and pumpkins on them. The house smelled like pumpkin spice. The family has kids the same age as my own kids, and there was really no sign that there were children living there. Again she was dressed in a nice dress, matching jewelry, everything in the house matched, and I, again, felt out of place.
Three days later we had a working meeting about the Children’s Christmas party, and again I attended at another wing leadership house. Because my husband was recently deployed, I had no idea I was actually going to the wing commander’s house.
I dressed in my usual wardrobe—workout clothing (I’m a certified personal trainer and marathoner). Most of the other spouses in attendance were dressed in casual dress, nary a pair of jeans, except for me, I felt woefully underdressed. And again, everything matched with everything else. It was all new, leather, and perfect.
I sat in these beautiful homes thinking of my own home. My home is beautiful, but often it’s organized chaos. Compared to my friends’ homes it’s a mash-up of different decorating styles.
I have four sets of dishes—all hand-me-downs or garage sale bargains, none of them match each one another. My wine glasses are mismatched. My décor is mismatched. My living room has paintings we got in Europe while on vacation, wood carved animals from Africa (I bought at Disney World), and some awards my husband won at work that don’t fit in his office.
Just about every house I have been in since entering the military has an “Americana” room dedicated to America, the Armed Services, or the Air Force.
We don’t have an Americana room. Instead we have a room full of running trophies, awards, and prizes we got at various races we have run throughout the United States and the world.
Children and dogs live here, and it’s obvious from the moment you walk into the home. Is this really so bad?
I know my mismatched décor, my non-seasonal matching plates (hell, we use Christmas dishes year round), and the muddy shoes at the door are not perfect, but they are me.
Even though my workout wear was out of place at the wing commander’s house, I didn’t feel the need or desire to buy a whole new wardrobe to match my husband’s new position. That’s not who I am.
Yet maybe the advantage to being ‘seasoned’ is that I do know who I am. My house is not perfectly decorated--and that’s OK.
I can still cook a mean prime rib. I can run a sub-4:00 hour marathon. I raised over $75,000 for a local charity. I’ve got my talents, they just don’t have a lot to do with home decoration and entertaining.
By now I should know myself well enough to realize that instead if comparing myself to something that’s just not achievable for me, I should be thankful for what I DO have. I have a family that loves me. I have a home where every square inch is full of memories and love.
I hope that when the other spouses come to visit my home, they will see how great imperfection can truly be-- especially when I host that spring coffee on my favorite Christmas dishes.
Jodi is a running and writing fool transplanted to south, home of good manners, great food, and year-round Christmas Dishes. She is currently working on a novel and building a small portfolio of freelance work. It's past Halloween, so now you will probably find her outside putting up her Christmas lights. Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story. If you have a story for us, please submit using the contact button above. All stories must be original and unpublished.