In July of this year, I will hit my 10 year "dependent" mark. How I made it through 10 years of deployments, TDYs, 80 million acronyms and more camouflage than I know what to do with it, I’ll never know, but I do know this -- my attitude toward all things military has changed considerably since I was a sweet, little (ahem, in comparison to now) 19-year-old spouse, fresh out of her parents’ house and wide-eyed at a world I’d never known.
You, too, may be feeling more, um, seasoned than you have in the past. So how can you tell whether you're still a newbie or now a 'seasoned' spouse? Let me count the ways.
New spouse: Camouflage EVERYTHING. Camo beanie, camo shoes, camo purse, camo car sticker, camo desktop background, camo… oh, look at that. The word has lost all meaning.
Seasoned spouse: PLEASE, NO. No. More. CAMO. Actually, can you hide your uniforms in the closet when you come home, the pattern now makes me nauseous.
New spouse: Oh my gawd, we get a three-bedroom house all to ourselves?! What are we going to put in these rooms, we don’t have any furniture! I know, one room will be the “beer pong” room, and the other can be the military room, that’s where you can keep ALL of your stuff nice and organized.
Seasoned spouse: Welp, a three-bedroom house means no room for guests to stay, and no place for the antique grandfather clock, and no extra closet for military gear, and if you think I’m giving up the top of my closet for your spare combat boots, you have another thing coming, mister!
New spouse: They canceled your leave?! Please tell me you’re kidding. No, of course I didn’t buy travel insurance; it was an extra $75! I was trying to save money! Can’t you ask nicely?
Seasoned spouse: Again? Siiiiiiiiiiiigggggh. Okay. Calling the airline. No way, you tell the kids.
New spouse: Wait, why is everyone stopping? What’s happening? Why are you saluting? You’re saluting the flag? Where is it, I don’t see it? Is that the National Anth--?
Seasoned spouse: *Wipes away a tear with a hand over her heart as her 3-year-old salutes the flag like daddy.*
New spouse: Babe, I can’t cook dinner tonight. No, you don’t understand ... it was payday, and I went to the commissary.
Seasoned spouse: It’s payday, which means pizza night! Commissary shopping happens two days from now. I learned my lesson.
New spouse: What? A deployment? Oh my gosh. To where? For how long? I didn’t think it would happen so fast! I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this. No, I’ll be okay. In a minute. I just need to calm down. Wow, I didn’t really think it would be this hard. No, I’ll be strong, I will, it’s just ... wow ... I’m going to miss you so much. I love you.
Seasoned spouse: A deployment. Hmm. How long? Hmm. When do you leave? Okay, I’ll start some lists. Let’s talk about when to tell the kids. They’re strong, honey, they’ll be okay. We’ll be okay. You worry about you. We’re here for you. We love you.
New spouse: PCS orders?! Woohoo! A new adventure, when do we leave? Soon? I can have the house packed in an hour, because we own about three pieces of furniture. Not for six months? DANG.
Seasoned spouse: SERIOUSLY? I just ordered curtains to fit the windows.
New spouse: How do I do it? Do what? Love my spouse? Super easy.
Seasoned spouse: How do I do it? Do what? Love my spouse? Super easy.
That last one will never change. I didn’t know how to maneuver the military lifestyle 10 years ago, and I’m still learning 10 years later, but seeing my guy walk through the front door, bathed in camouflage and all, makes it worth it.