I have a problem: in the fight for career-priority, my service member wins every single time.
In my equal-career fantasy world my soldier and I balance our careers against each other, split our home duties and take equal share of the responsibility for our little boys. When he travels for business, he doesn't have to worry about making sure someone is there to pick up the slack. He knows that I am here to make sure boys are fed, laundry is done and no one colors on the wall. When I travel, the same thing happens on his end. He is off work in time to do what I do. Easy-peasy.
In reality our lives go like this: he leaves for work at 0500. I make sure everyone is happy and healthy all day in between working full-time. I also take care of the house, make dinner, put everyone to bed and make sure he was dinner when he comes home. When he travels during the week we hardly notice. If I have some kind of need where I have an obligation in the evening, there's a chance he can make it home to help me, otherwise I hire a babysitter. He is home most of the time on the weekends and I get to take a break while he folds the laundry and plays "Go Fish" with the boys(<--- bliss).
When I travel, unless he can take leave (unlikely), I have to find someone to be me on weekdays from 0500 to somewhere around 6:30 or 7 p.m. He might get home before that. He might not. Daycare for these times isn't an option because the day is simply too long. Sometimes my father-in-law can come down to help me with my kids (if he doesn't bail on us). Sometimes I can find a babysitter. The rest of the time I turn down career enhancing trips because it's just too complicated.
In short, my husband's career wins. It wins every single time. And even though I bring home the same size paycheck and have worked just as hard to have mine, he comes out on top.
In a way I feel like we don't have a choice. Because he is a soldier and his rear end belongs to Uncle Sam, he goes to work when they say and comes home when he can. His career HAS to win. To some extent we're putting my career on the back burner out of sheer red, white and blue patriotism.
And, yes, he volunteered to serve. He is in the Army because he wants to be, so I tell myself that the sacrifice that I'm making to make this possible (and, yes, I am absolutely serving too because of this) is worth it.
But it still feels like there has to be a better way. I have done everything I can to have high expectations for my career within the constraints I've been given.
And maybe we do have choices. If we were given the ability to pick a duty station, we could pick one that would be better for my career regardless of how it impacted his. We could choose to use the leave time he's given to match my work trips instead of taking a vacation.
But if feels like his always takes priority. And it feels unfair.
That got us to wondering -- is this the way it has to be?