Results “May” Vary…and That is a Great Thing
It will be the same and it will be different…
There are lots of wonderful, beneficial blogs and articles about life as a military spouse but if you feel sometimes like they only loosely apply to you because your experiences seem unique, you would be correct. It is the Christmas tree effect. They look similar and beautiful from far away, but when we get close, they are all a bit unique. Similarly, your big-picture experience as a military spouse will loosely resemble that of others, but some of your experiences will be distinctive and personal. My own dear (he suggested the description grumpy) husband is deployed this year, 7 years after his last full year away from home. He has deployed during those years, just not for a full year again until now. Last time, we had kids at home, I was in school, and I was able to stay in our rental house to avoid moving. This time, I had to move houses, we are empty nesters, and most of our household goods are in storage. There are positives to each of these scenarios. Notice I didn’t say positives and negatives, only positives. I do this as a habit because there are always going to be ups and downs, and we should have a plan for the downs, but dwelling on those takes time away from enjoying the positives in life. Now don’t get mad and give up reading here, assuming I must be out of touch! I know this life can be very challenging in ways that are beyond our control, but there is no perfect place or perfect scenario for a stress-free life. All we can do is simply plan for the worst, so we are prepared for it, then hope for the best.
Don’t believe the hype…
Friends have asked me if this deployment is easier or harder than ones in the past, considering my unusual circumstances. The real answer is it is just different. There are common issues that come up often in the lives of military spouses. So common in fact, that if you have not experienced them, you might just be a unicorn. It is easy to see only negatives, especially if social media is your guide. It exacerbates the belief that either military life is all bad or that some always experience smooth sailing while you cannot seem to catch a break. Consider social media for what it is, a method of information sharing that can also become a way to compare your life to others. It is very important to remember that comparisons are dangerous and no one’s life is perfect.
The factors we can and cannot control…
Circumstances are never static in any part of military life. Your military member may have better or worse Wi-Fi downrange than they did previously, their time zone may make it easier or harder to communicate, or they may or may not get to come back to the states for an extra TDY during their time away. You might look at your neighbor’s deployment and believe it is easy compared to yours. However, there could be unseen circumstances that are difficult or tragic behind that curtain. The big-picture experience of deployment will be similar, but everyone’s personal experience will be unique. The grass is always greener, whether it is deployment, every-day life, or even military versus civilian life. Just remember wherever you go, there you are, and the grass may not be so green when you hop that fence.
You will most likely…
*Have to move somewhere you don’t want to go.
*Have a household catastrophe while your military member is deployed or TDY.
*Make a late-night trip to the ER with a kid when you are by yourself and have other small children that must tag along.
*Have an important family event preempted by military work schedules.
*If you work, have the frustration of being the new person in town looking for a job, again.
*Experience a last-minute deployment that coincides with every Murphy-related event one could imagine.
*There are great spouses in the new location who love it there.
*You are going to be a home-improvement and crisis management expert, so patch up that superhero cape. You look awesome in it.
*Communication from downrange is so much better than it was even 10 years ago.
*Your kids are going to have amazing experiences that will shape their lives in inordinately positive ways. My grown children confirm that learning to be adaptable helped them tremendously in college and on the job hunt!
*You will meet an amazing fellow spouse who will take your kids at the last minute during that ER trip.
*There will always be a tribe of people who want to love and support spouses in this community, friends and strangers alike. They will surround you when you least expect it, but most need it.
The one thing we all have…
The one thing we all have is the benefit of our experiences. Use what you have learned to build your resiliency muscles and remember that a kind and seasoned spouse can undoubtedly guide you through the rest. There will be times when crazy challenges are thrown in your path, and hopefully, you will have a support network but have confidence in the fact that your experiences have helped you draw a blueprint for future success. You just have to be willing to look back and learn from them. Everyone gets thrown for a loop sometimes, so preparation will give you the best chance to come out unscathed on the other end.
You are an expert at being YOU and YOU have something to offer that no one else can. Thank you for bringing that special something to our spouse community and don’t forget, while we should care for one another, don’t compare. Just be awesome at your life. Results may vary, and that is a great thing.