Friday, May 9, 2014

Military Spouses Inspire Me

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not that enthralled with celebrities.  I don't buy gossip magazines and whenever CNN is airing "news" about celeb weddings or twitter wars, I abruptly change the channel.  Maybe it's the sociology major in me coming out, but I find inspiration in all kinds of people wherever I happen to be swimming around.  Listening to their tone of voice and word selection, watching their body language, observing how they prioritize their time...these are the clues that allow their values to surface, allowing me to read between the lines and see their authentic nature.  When you listen to the clues instead of the chatter, you can feel their struggle, admire their strength, revel in their successes.

Thanks for your help
As I've said, I didn't fully understand what it would be like to have the responsibility as the Commander's "other half".  But, before I came, the teacher/researcher/learner in me asked an experienced Colonel's wife about how to be helpful to the other spouses when I got here.  The important thing she said to me was to be open about how I'm dealing with being new to this duty just like they are or have been.  My opening line was often, "My sig other is the Commander, so what does that make me?  ...Unemployed."  And I asked the spouses here for help finding a job and received it from an awesome spouse in the criminal justice field and then I helped another spouse in the same arena.

Thanks for being a role model
The same Colonel's wife and her husband were role models to me in the way they were so genuine.  They were not condescending or narcissistic as one might fear they could be.  They actually were upfront about how it was a critical time in the Colonel's career, as he had been passed over for promotion to General and didn't have much time left to see if it would ever become a reality.  You could see how his better half was toughing it out and having the attitude of "let the cards fall where they may, we'll still be ok".  He ended up not becoming a general, and retiring.  We enjoy their holiday cards, explaining about his new career and their son joining the Marines.

Another Colonel's wife, also inspired me by being a warm, caring, strategic, smart, motivated leader of her family.  Her husband was set to retire after 20 years in the military, and he was struggling with it.  In a bad way.  But she had planned well and was finishing her doctorate degree just in time to take over as bread winner.  She was extremely busy and tired-looking (doctoral thesis, while raising kids and supporting emotionally struggling husband...I can't even imagine), but when she hosted the military families for a barbeque, she was the ultimate host and genuinely was interested in what we were all going through.  She was the epitome of taking the bull by the horns, making lemonade out of lemons (her husband...not a source of envy shall I say...), and working hard to make her career aspirations come true.  Eschewing resentment or ruefulness, she appreciated the 20 year military lifestyle that allowed her to be a stay-at-home-mom, world traveler, and student, and patiently waited her turn for a dream career, all with a sense of balance and class.

Thanks for being there
Simple things can mean a lot, and I truly appreciate the sassy military wife who, no matter where she moves, she offers a standing invitation to all the military ladies to coffee at her house on a certain morning of the week.  She doesn't care about rank, age, or which military branch, she is friendly, but real to everyone.  She complains, but in a factual, funny way.  She isn't fake or pretentious or a one-upper.  She says things like, "bitches get sh*t done".  And when I vented to her about another milso (the one-upper, mom-petitive type) who had repeatedly and relentlessly offended me regarding my choice to be a DINK as I just sat there, following the if-you-can't-say-anything-nice rule..., my friend listened and then reminded me about a special place for haters.  (It's rare for me to be speechless, and rare for me to have such a thin skin, but being on the receiving end of non-stop lashing out and judgement was really a shock that I didn't see coming.)  Update:  the offensive woman had been drinking, and actually apologized a week later, to my awe and amazement.  I happily forgave her, but she then kept being publicly rude to me, so now I just keep my distance. 
If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.  **my surname translates to "butterfly"

Thanks for supporting your Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, Coasty, or Natty Guardsman
My Marine has been gone this week, and I emotionally ate with gluten free cupcakes.  I have been with him through month-long European workups and a surgery, but not a full deployment.  I give all the props to the spouses and significant others out there who have been through long separations, injuries, and tragedies.  My sister-in-law didn't like Air Force life, so she persuaded my brother to abandon his dream of becoming an officer and get out of the military.  So, to those of you who stay, who embrace change and instability, who are proud of your service member's dedication and achievement, who stay true to yourselves and work toward the fulfillment of your own goals, Rock on!  You inspire me.

*This post is part of Epic Friday Linky Party

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