Life of a Military Wife

Parasailing at UPT-2006

I am a military wife.  I have been since January of 2006.  And before that, I was a military brat from birth.  When Mr. Man commissioned I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into because I grew up with a military dad; boy was I wrong.  Growing up it was normal to have a dad that couldn’t always make it to my sporting events or recitals.  I knew he loved me, I knew he would’ve been there if he could.  I watched my mom be a super-mom because, well shiz always hit the fan whenever dad was unavailable.  I distinctly remember when we lived in Spokane, WA the main water pipe broke that fed to the whole street.  And it happened to break in the middle of our front yard.  Mom and I literally watched the grass rise a good 2 feet and then water burst through.  Of course, dad was on alert.  He was unavailable.  Our basement was flooding, and our front yard was a swampy swimming pool.  Did I mention that this happened in the middle of winter?  So it was a freezing, swampy swimming pool.

Watching my mom be the mom and the dad was quite the norm.  I thought I knew the strength it takes to be the sole rock as a parent.  It wasn’t until I left military child status and joined the ranks of military wife where I realized I hadn’t automatically acquired that strength.  Honestly, there are more than several moments each year where I wonder if I have enough gumption and stubbornness to make it through another military milestone.

Formal Dining Awards Ceremony 2015

In the 13 years Mr. Man has been serving, through deployments and extended TDYs (training trips), we have been apart approximately a total of 4.5 years compiled all together.  Thankfully the longest he’s been away was only 6 months for a deployment.  We have been lucky to have avoided several deployments.  Plenty of other families endure a lot longer, and/or more frequent separations.

The thing is, being a military spouse forces individuals to develop certain traits, form friendships that can be stronger than family ties, and just generally laugh in the face of fear and disappointment.  If I had to give my 22-year-old-self advice, just when we had made our first move with the Air Force, I would have so much to say.  Not only have I matured over the years, and gained a whole heck of a lot of experience, but I have forced myself to reevaluate our situation over and over.

I’ve NEVER once considered leaving it all, NEVER once decided I wouldn’t stand by Mr. Man and support him.  If anything, especially in the early years, I wondered if I was enough, strong enough, mature enough, knowledgeable enough, even friendly enough to be his whole support system.  But just as his career has grown and changed, so have I…so has our marriage.  I’d like to think for the better.

Throughout the years, experience has molded me.  Some of those experiences have been devastating, some have been comical, some have been eye-rolling, but all have been tremendous learning experiences.  Honestly, mostly what I have learned has been just how far I can be pushed and when I need to ask for help instead of being stubborn…but every time, I have learned that each experience is so much sweeter when shouldered with friends.

Seven years ago this summer, we moved to San Antonio, TX.  Mr. Man had been picked up for a new program and was to complete 8ish months of training.  The first 8 weeks of this training was back in Colorado, where we had just moved from.  We moved into our rental and within the week he left.  I knew almost no one and I had twin almost 3-year-olds who depended on me.  I was in a new city, the largest one I had lived in thus far.  Thankfully, Mr. Man had become friends with a fellow classmate in his program and our families had meshed extremely well right off the bat.  While our husbands were in CO, she and I became each others’ surrogate spouses.  When she had to be sequestered to her house with sick kiddos, I went grocery shopping for her, I brought movies to her kids…and she did the exact same for me.  She was the one who found my boys a babysitter and drove me to the ER after I was bitten by my neighbor’s dog a week before the husbands were supposed to come back from CO.  She stayed the whole time with me, laughed with me at the whole situation and kept me sane.

While our husbands were given different assignments out of training, we have kept in touch, and I have been lucky enough to have them move here last summer.  Our friendship was forged in desperation, some trama, and A LOT of laughs.  My mom has told me, on more than one occasion, that easily one of the more cherished aspects of being a military spouse is finding those lifelong friends who become your family away from family.  This special lady, she is that!  Her whole family, her husband, her kids, they have become our family away from family.

I have been blessed to have found several of those kinds of friendships, not only with fellow military spouses but also with friends in my church.  Before moving to Las Vegas, I had several friends who I was close with at the time, but distance has changed that most of the time.  Since moving here, I have a special group of friends, all of which would and have bent over backward for me.  I can’t tell you how loved and how quickly they all rallied around my family when my dad had his heart attack.  Each one of them set up meals, babysat my boys, checked in multiple times each day…I never once asked for help, they just knew what we needed and wouldn’t take my stubborn nos for an answer.  My amazing surrogate spouse even took the older 3 boys for the entire day when Mr. Man ended up having an emergency appendectomy in the middle of the whole hospital craziness with my dad.  She not only took the boys, but she had dinner ready for us to take home when I came to pick the boys up.  I am SO blessed with such an amazing support system and couldn’t even begin to repay these girls with all of the service they have shown my family.


Bean and Keegs waiting for Mr. Man in the airport after the 6-month deployment, 2014

Every time Mr. Man leaves for an extended period of time, deployments…long-term training…I learn something about myself.  The first time Mr. Man deployed, I had had a long conversation with my sister-in-law a couple weeks prior.  She had already endured more than her fair share of deployments and I wanted advice on how to not just survive it, but to be able to feel human and the best mom/dad to my boys I could be while their dad was on the other side of the world.  The best advice she gave me was that she always let herself be sad and mopey for the first 1-2 weeks after he left, and then she forced herself to pull up her bootstraps and just take it one day at a time.  And…that is how I made it through our first deployment.  I let myself be sad, I let myself cry, I let myself date Ben & Jerry’s for a couple of weeks, then I dove head first back into life.  I kept telling myself that if she could make it through 2-3 deployments every year with her husband while raising 5 children, then I could easily be at least half as strong as she is.

First time Keegs saw Mr. Man, 2014

Over the years, I have acquired quite a set of useful skills while Mr. Man has been away.  I know how to break into my own house when I lock myself out.  I can dismantle and reassemble the pipes under the kitchen sink when it becomes clogged…never mind the fact that I was the one who clogged it in the first place.  I may or may not now know how to do this with such proficiency that I no longer flood the kitchen when dismantling the pipes.  I know how to replace a showerhead and the innards of a toilet.  I have had to do some major landscaping while Mr. Man was gone.  I know how to not take crap from car mechanics just because I am a girl.  I have moved king size mattresses, built furniture, driven by myself with a baby and twin boys 14+hours to visit family.

Seeing Mr. Man for the first time, 2014

The most important skills I have learned with Mr. Man’s military career thus far have been emotional ones.  I’ve learned the power of prayer, that not only will personal prayer bring comfort, but that it will take the loneliness away.  The first time Mr. Man deployed, I can’t tell you how often I felt the prayers of others that were on our behalf.

I have learned that the quickest way to stop feeling lonely or depressed is to dive head first into serving someone else.  It was no coincidence that right as Mr. Man left in 2014 I was called to the Relief Society Activities Committee.  That calling gave me a sense of purpose, a group of friends and lots and lots of random crafts to complete.  I also learned when to ask for service on my behalf.  When Mr. Man was in Colorado for those 8 weeks and we were in San Antonio, the first and last 3 weeks of that were spent homebound with two sick boys.  Even though I knew absolutely no one in my ward, I called the Relief Society president and asked for help.  I needed a priesthood holder who could give my boys a blessing.  I needed someone to run to the store for me…because as it turns out part of that time my surrogate spouse was homebound with sick kiddos herself.

I’ve learned the importance of taking care of your mental health.  After Mr. Man returned home from his first deployment, I began having panic attacks.  I had never experienced them before.  I honestly thought I was having issues with my hormones.  It took me 4 months after he arrived back home to realize what was going on.  I had repressed all of the anxiety I felt the whole deployment and once he came home it spilled out.  I began doing talk therapy and was prescribed anxiety medication.  I was able to see that just like I need Mr. Man, he needs me.  I couldn’t be his rock and fully support him when I was built up with anxiousness.  He worried about me more than he should’ve because I wasn’t taking care of myself.  When I realized that taking care of myself both mentally and physically not only gave me strength, it calmed Mr. Man, our relationship grew tenfold.  He can focus on his career, he can worry about the job when he’s deployed and knows that I am handling everything in strides.  He still worries about us, but it’s not an overabundance.

Being a military wife is one of the many titles I wear proudly.  Yes…a lot of sacrifices are made in our family for our country.  Yes…he has seen and done things in his career that I will never know the extent of.  Yes…easily one of the hardest parts is trying to explain why daddy isn’t home to take them to their first day of school or help coach their little league team.  But…one of the best aspects is Mr. Man’s service to this country has instilled a sense of service, patriotism, and honor in my boys.

Home from deployment, 2014

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