One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is be a military wife.
I know I should consider myself fortunate that Shane’s boots currently rest on American soil but that doesn’t fix the challenges that we end up having to face. Most of them will seem petty to someone who hasn’t lived military life but to those who have lived or are currently living military life will understand. One of the biggest challenges that we face is the time that it takes away from family.
I realize that 3 days per month for drill seems like nothing to some people, but then you start adding in the drills (4-5 days) up at Camp Ripley, along with Camp Ripley Training Camp (14-17 days) along with any other meetings, functions, etc that they have going on, it takes up a lot of time. I can’t even count how many times we have had to rearrange plans with family or how many school events Shane has missed. That doesn’t include the church services he doesn’t get to be a part of, trips to Sioux Falls, or other things of that nature.
But, I know women who have had to give birth while their boyfriend/fiance/husband is away for military duty, women who have gone through a deployment with their soldier; holding down the fort and taking care of the children while their spouse is half a world away, women who have lost their soldier in war and women who have spouses that have not remained faithful. I thank God every day that I have not had to endure any of these situations thus far.
Not only is the time away from families a challenge, so is the unknown. Not knowing if they are going to get a “48-hour call”. You know. The one that says they have 48 hours until they have to report for deployment.
Its frustrating. This year, Shane will be missing my birthday; he will be at Camp Ripley for drill with the possibility of not being able to text, call, etc. I will then be spending about 2 weeks by myself while he’s up at CRTC. We will then be possibly cutting the honeymoon short because he has to report to drill that weekend.
Yeah, a birthday at this age is “just another day”. But it’s the real possibility that he will not even be able to call to say “happy birthday.” It’s the real possibility that I probably won’t even get to talk to him at all that day, maybe even for a few days depending on where they are at in training. Even though it’s “just another day”, it’s “just another day” I wish I could spend with him; complaining that I’m getting old, whining that I “found a gray hair”, and all that other stuff that you would do on “just another day.” But, instead, this year, he will be spending “just another day” 180 miles away.
It’s hard enough to plan things around work schedules but when you throw in a schedule that is not flexible at all, it makes it even worse. Some people were irritated when we told them when we had set our initial date for the wedding – September 5th. Well, when you are working around kids’ custody rotation, Shane’s job, my job, drill schedule, camp schedule; you just look at all your options and pick the one that has the least amount of conflict.
One of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done is be a military wife.
I get to be a part of a HUGE family who is there for one another. Shane gets a sense of unfailing brotherhood, I have my group of military spouses that understand my frustrations, and the kids get to be around other children who have experienced and coped with the same things they have.
I get to give my husband support. I’m talking more than just a pat on the back and a “You’re doing well.” I’m referring to sacrificial love. The kids and I sacrifice time with him so that he is able to fulfill this career, I sacrifice morning coffee dates so that he is able to report to drill on time, we sacrifice eating at a decent/normal time (most drills) so that we are able to eat together as a family. To some, that may not seem like much of a sacrifice, but turn the tables and ponder about how different things would be if your spouse were in the military.
I get to show my faithfulness. Never once have I given Shane a reason to doubt if I was faithful, nor him to me. But, while he is away, I make it a point to either stay home, ask for his permission or tell him if I’m going somewhere. He knows where I am at all times. It’s not out of obligation, it’s not out of feeling like I can’t do anything without him; it’s out of respect. Respect for him and his feelings and opinions.
I get to experience homecomings. I haven’t been through a deployment with him, but the feeling I get after not seeing him for a few days up to a couple of weeks is something that I’m not able to easily describe. It’s like you are going out on your first date all over again; butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, racing heart, a huge smile plastered on your face.
The one thing that gets us through situations such as these is God. We pray. We read the Word. We trust. We believe.
Sure, we could try to take on these situations and frustrations on our own, but we wouldn’t get very far. But even on my weakest days; much like today, He reminds me that I do have the inner strength to keep my chin up and keep moving forward.
Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”