Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lauren: A Real Military Wife of Blogland


My trip to Korea was fabulous, FM and I had an amazing time exploring the country, and I promise I will share tons about our vacation and get back to normal blogging duties just as soon as I dig out from underneath the craziness of being out of the USA for two weeks.  Plus, we’ve finally got a really decent idea where we’ll be heading in a few months, so stay tuned!!

But I couldn’t miss the opportunity to link up with Mal today for The REAL Military Wives of Blogland, an exposé of sorts on what life is really like as a military spouse.

Mal Smiles

If you’ve been around these parts before you know a whole lot about my and FM’s military journey thus far, and if you haven’t, well welcome, and certainly read more about us here.  FM enlisted with the Army about a year and a half ago, and we were married right before he moved over to South Korea on his first assignment out of training for a yearlong hardship tour.  Clearly, we’re relative newbies at this military family game, but I honestly feel like we’ve already been living it for years.  It’s sink or swim in these tactical waters, and as many of you I’m sure already know, you get thrown to the sharks and learn what your spousal responsibilities are pretty quick!!

We’ve yet to have the apparent pleasure of a true PCS together (but it is upcoming in a few months and I’m certainly starting to feel the pressure), but FM’s already had the opportunity to live in three different US states and one foreign country in the last year, so needless to say, it’s been an adventure so far!

But in many ways I still have trouble identifying myself as an “Army Wife.”  I’m not sure if it’s that I feel I don’t deserve the title yet, or that I have a preconceived idea of what the title infers about me, but I’m not entirely sure that I really want it. 

I am, always have been, and always will be, extremely independent.  I’ve had a job since I was 15, worked very hard for what I’ve earned, and studied my rear off to get to where I am today, which currently involves running educational programs for an entire NY county for a non-profit organization.   I’m good at what I do, and I’m happy to be able to contribute financially to my family so one fine day when we do PCS and I am likely out of work again, we may not have to struggle to make ends meet as hard as we may have on one salary.  Although, I must admit, I have received many the cockeyed glance from assuming parties for being a full-time working military wife.  I have actually been asked “why are you working here and not in South Korea with your husband?”

It’s these kinds of questions, the stereotypical ideas others have about what a military spouse should be, or should do, or should expect, that infuriate me about that title, “Army Wife”, and make me want to denounce it.  So rather than tell you about all of what I do, here’s some stereotypical things I don’t want to be known for as a military spouse…

I do not want to be a part of the military; that was FM’s choice, I support him, but he is a soldier, not me!
I do not want to depend on FM’s salary if I don’t have to; I’m completely able to work! 
I do not want to lean on FM’s accomplishments to define my own; I have my own accomplishments and I’m proud of them!  
I do not want to rely on the government to provide my meals or housing allowances; it just comes with the territory but I’m completely able to provide and budget for that. 
I do not want to have numerous children right away because we "get paid more"; we still have time for that, my future kids are not my meal ticket, and it doesn't actually work like that, there's IS no extra money.  
I do not want to tote around a bag made of FM’s old ACUs or wear a t-shirt that claims my role as the “hardest job in the military”; his uniform is his and loving FM is not a job! 
I do not want to BE my husband; I want to be his wife.

What I’d love for most outsiders to know about being a military spouse is that we’re just people, bipedal Homo sapiens like everyone else.  Sure, there are some out there that abuse certain privileges or would like to use the system to their advantage, which of course taints the picture for the rest of us.  But on the whole, military spouses are normal people.  We work, we volunteer, we hold important positions in society, we have friends both military and civilian, we write or blog, we host dinners, parties, play dates, and gatherings for our children and families, we craft or run marathons, we love our husbands and wives in uniform through frequent moves, tours, trainings, and deployments,and we are strong.

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