Dependent? Independent? What to do?

Today starts a week of participation in the Military Spouse Blog Carnival at Wives of Faith in honor of Military Spouse Appreciation. I have never participated in anything like this before, but I think it is a great idea. It is a week of taking their daily topic and writing from my heart. I really like it because I will be able to look back into the last 8 years of our military lives and tell you some of the things that I love so much about being part of this world.... and reasons I am so very proud of the man the Lord brought into my life. I hope you will join us here daily to read about the life that I love so much- Being a Military Spouse! 

Today's daily topic from Wives of Faith is ”You know you’re a military spouse when . . . ”

*I speak personally with the word husband, but let it be known that there are many men military spouses out there supporting their wives as they serve their country. I do not take that lightly when I refer to the Active Duty.*

I would like to start this blog out by saying that I NEVER thought I would be part of the Military world. The Military was not something that I was very familiar with as a child, until my brother joined the Marines when I was 14. He was only in the Marines for a few years and even during that time, I never really understood what it meant for him to be in the Military. I remember the day my husband came home and told me that he wanted to join the Army. I was beside myself. We had only been married for six months and I was only 20 years old. This was not how our lives were suppose to go. I had taken a semester (which turned into a year) off of college so he could pursue his career as a Fire Fighter. He went through Fire Academy and started his first civilian job as a Fire Fighter... and then brought me this news! I remember walking in a park, mortified, discussing this topic. I knew nothing of the military world... but I did know one thing... the Army scared me and moving from my family scared me too. In the end, I agreed and supported him to join the Air Force and I became the very proud wife that I am today. I am so thankful for our experiences together and growing together in the military. We have lived eight hours from home, across the world from home in another country, and now 30 hours across the U.S. from home. We have had to lay my brother to rest and brought our son into the world while living in another country. We have experienced so many adventures, so much happiness, and a lot of heartache. We have made life long friends and we have left those friends, knowing that we will be forever family. I am so very blessed with my amazing family and their support as we take this journey.

There are so many things that come to mind when I think about the topic "You know you're a military spouse when...." I know I am a military spouse when: you know all of the meanings of words letters such as, PCS, ETA, TDY, DEROS, FTAC, AB, AMN, SSGT, TSGT, MSGT, OPSEC  to name a few, and forget to bring it back to civilian non-military wording when you are around them (along with the many I do not know), you use a gerber for everything, friends can become closer to you than family, being a single mom is no big deal, moving is a normal thing in my life, use military gear for skiing, yourvflashlights are green L shaped, hearing the 'bomb' go off is a weekly heartache, you write in military time, hearing the National Anthem and stopping with your hand across your heart out of respect daily, you refer to the people your spouse works with by their last name and probably do not even know their first name, you spend holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries alone, you don't even notice the planes that fly early in the morning or late at night, Skype is your best friend, you think it is odd when movie theaters do not play the National Anthem before a movie, it costs $0 to have your babies, you can drop anything and everything you are doing to answer the phone, you have 'Skype dates'.... and the list could go on and on and on. These are just some that come to my mind. 

As I have said, I LOVE being a Military Spouse. One of the ways "you know you are a military spouse when..." that really screams out to me and is so real in my life is when:

You can go from DEPENDENT to INDEPENDENT to DEPENDENT again like it is no big deal. 
Shall I explain?

As woman, many times we are very dependent on our helpmates.... which is the way we should be. I would dare to say that among many of the women (non-military) my age and when I was a younger spouse, I always felt that I was more independent than they were or wanted to be. Not in a judgemental way at all... but because I could easily go from depending on my husband to him being gone in a matter of minutes. It is the life we chose to live and we really have no other choice. Once your spouse is gone on a TDY, Deployment, or even work (12 or 24 hours shifts anyone?) you have to learn to fend for yourself and your family. I am not the first nor will I be the last spouse to say that everything breaks when the husband leaves. The independence that I learned when my husband went to Basic Training and Tech School has only grown in me and helped me through numerous TDYs and three Deployments while miles and miles from family. I believe that most military spouses are some of the strongest people I know. We can do things that so many other spouses wouldn't dream of doing... or we do them because we have to. When our spouse has to leave us for months at a time, we have to learn to let go of depending on them so much, and learn to put our independence to work. Though spouses may let go of that independence once their man returns home, I believe that we always hold a sense of independence in us. When spouses return from deployment, which can always be such an adjustment, I think it takes time to learn to depend on your husband again. I would even dare to say it is more difficult for us, as spouses, to learn to depend on our husband again then it is to quickly be independent... at least that has been my experience. I have learned when the husband leaves that I CAN do the things I never had to do before... so when he returns, for me, it is difficult to give back those responsibilities. I got use to mowing the yard, shoveling the snow, changing the oil, taking care of car issues, all doctors appointments, work, dinner, lunches, bath time, bed time routines, sleeping alone, etc. I can still do all of that when he returns. Many times my thought process is telling me that I should just do it all... I have been for six months anyways. It can be such a challenge to start giving back some responsibilities to the spouse and allowing them to do for you when you have done everything on your own for so long. On the flip side of that... our spouses have to learn to do it all on their own too... They go from relying on us to have their clothes cleaned and ironed, their lunches packed, their dinner warm, their groceries bought, their sheets washed and beds made, etc. to having to do that all themselves too. I think it is amazing how military couples can both go from being so dependent on one another to being totally independent and then going back to being dependent on one another. It is something that brings us, as spouses, together as one. We UNDERSTAND each other. We GET it. We also all understand the difficulty of it all... of deployments, TDYs, exercises, schools... we get it. We know how hard it can be to play the role of mom and dad for months on end and then how hard it can be to watch and allow your spouse to take back some of that responsibility when they return home. 

I think as spouses it is our duty to serve our husbands as they are serving their country. I think it is important when they leave on these long trips that we take the time and invest in them... to make them feel like we are dependent on them in some way. It is important for both parties. I also think how amazing it is to be a military spouse and to have the common bond that we all have.... we are all making memories that no one can take away. 

As we struggle to learn how to live life without our spouses and be less dependent on them we find ourselves growing as an independent woman who can do more on her own. Yet how amazing it is to be that strong woman he returns from his deployments and be able to return some of the many hats we wear to him as we learn to depend on him again.... 

Being a military wife is a gift... and I am so grateful for it.