There are people who don’t understand our military life. Actually, there are a lot of people who don’t understand our military life. Well meaning people who “support our troops” but don’t really get what our life is all about. And as hubby says, how could they? Unless you’ve lived this life, how could you ever possibly know what it’s really like? In the past four years, people have said some pretty idiotic things to be about our army life. People who thought they were being comforting, encouraging or even just engaging about the military, but were so misguided and ill informed that it made my skin crawl.
There was the one guy who asked me a few years ago, if hubby and I planned on having babies when he returned from Iraq. At the time, I really wasn’t sure that I wanted to start a family, and I told him that we didn’t have any immediate plans for a child. He then told me that we should really reconsider, because having a child “would give me something to do during a deployment, and fill my time.” I know in my heart that he was well-intentioned and only trying to convey how lonely deployments must be, but to suggest that someone have a baby just to make a deployment easier? I wanted to scream- you don’t get it!
Then there are those people who think that we should somehow be stripped of our right to have children at all, since our husbands serve in the military. Like the lady that was overheard in a restaurant telling her friend that she didn’t feel sorry at all for these families left behind during deployments, after all, they knew they (the soldiers) would have to leave, so they shouldn’t get married or have children in the first place. OK, so most families I know don’t want sympathy, just a little respect for the sacrifice they make. After all, its because our hubby’s are deployed that people like that are free to have such an opinion.
Of course my favorite are those people who think that our children are all going to grow up to be unproductive burdens on society with extreme baggage, all because we made a few moves during their 18 years. I recently encountered a lady who actually equated military children with refugee children and told me how detrimental my lifestyle was going to be to my daughter. “No matter what you do, she’s still going to have issues” she said. Apparently she felt that moving around the country with a family that loves her and the opportunity to see the world somehow qualified her for therapy. Yes, its true, army brats call a lot of places home, but I can certainly think of much worse ways to raise my children. And please don’t try to tell me that I will somehow “change my mind” when she starts school. I say, you don’t get it! I do not know a single military family that had an “ah ha” moment and got out when their children went to kindergarten. The fact is, army brats turn out to be surprisingly well adjusted and cultured adults. There are exceptions to every rule, but that applies to civilians too. So please, enough with the lecture on the pitfalls of our transient family life. After all, it’s not as though PCSing is optional.
Oh, and the questions abound. Why would you buy a house when you may have to move again?When is your husband getting out? When will you be stationed somewhere permanently? Are you going to move home when your husband deploys? Why not? And then there is the misguided sympathy which I hate most of all. People who express condolences over a PCS, and send sappy “Support our Troops” emails to military spouses during deployments. I don’t know why its so hard for people to understand our life, or why they find it so surprising that we enjoy it.
This much I do know. We LOVE our military life. Yes, it’s hard. Sometimes its excruciatingly hard. But its oh so worth it. Contrary to popular belief, we chose this life. We don’t sit and cry over new orders and a PCS. We don’t want pity or sympathy over deployments, and we certainly don’t need guilt when we choose to spend holidays with our military families instead of our biological ones. See, our military families get it. They get that life is messy and fleeting and totally unpredictable and that despite all that, life still goes on. They understand that you can hate the Army for sending your husband on another deployment, but be completely terrified of leaving the military at the same time. They know that having children means they will get to see the world and be exposed to different cultures and view points. They understand that a PCS is a new adventure and a time to make new friends. They know the pain of being absent from family weddings and birthdays and being away when a parent is ill, and they feel the conflict of being devoted military families and still loving and missing the people at home.
At best, its complicated. I know this, and I know that other people can’t be expected to understand. Still, sometimes I am caught off guard by other peoples perception of our life. But you know what? That’s OK. Because as hubby reminds me, this is more than a life, its a calling. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.