I stood in line at the Pass and ID office, patiently awaiting my turn. Unbeknownst to me, my dependent ID had conveniently expired a few weeks after my husband deployed, and was confiscated at the front gate en route to the children’s Christmas party. Oops.
Fast forward several months later, and now that homecoming is a few weeks away, I finally got my act together to get my ID replaced. In heels and a business suit, I left work early for my appointment. When I finally made it to the front of the line, I told the gentleman behind the desk my ID had expired and I needed to replace it. With a smile and no ill-will, he asked, “Are you a contractor ma’am? Or just a spouse?”
The words reverberated through my ears like nails on a chalkboard.
I might not be a contractor, but I’m not "just" a spouse.
I’m not just a spouse. I’m a mother.
I grew two children in my stomach, from scratch. I tell bedtime stories, I play Go Fish, I make 3 meals a day, every.single.day. I do laundry, dishes, yard work and am the sole replacer of toilet paper in our home. I am responsible for the physical safety, the emotional stability and the purveyor of the precarious balance between discipline and fun. I drive carpool, help with homework, manage schedules and keep my children connected to their father while he is away. While he serves our country, I serve our family.
I’m not just a spouse. I’m a member of a community.
I participate in our Family Readiness Group. I support the other men and women who are missing the other halves of their hearts. I send care packages overseas and I make dinners for the ones left behind. I’ve hosted more than a few parties, I’ve bought countless raffle tickets and I’ve written my fair share of newsletters. I give back to the community that has given me so much.
I'm not just a spouse. I'm a fixer.
I kiss boo-boos. I mend broken feelings. I watched a YouTube video on how to replace a part in my dishwasher and saved us $300. I am resourceful, adaptable and have an over-ambitious approach to house projects. I don't need a man to move the furniture when I rearrange bedrooms, again. I didn't hire a painter when I decided two days before my in-laws arrived that I wanted my dark red kitchen to feel more like the beach. I might not know the names of the tools I’ve used, but I know how to get the jobs done. I am a voracious Googler, a diagnoser and one handy-woman. I'm a fixer.
I’m not just a spouse. I’m a writer.
I try to tell the stories that so many of us share. I want to give a voice to those without one, to provide encouragement to those in need and to share light with those that think they’re in the darkness alone. I’m passionate about my job and I work hard to accurately represent our military families. Every sentence, every paragraph, every article is a piece of myself, and I hope, somewhere in those words is a piece that resonates with you. A writer needs readers, and readers need writers.
I’m not just a spouse. I’m a patriot.
I stand beside a man who serves his nation. A man who has been away for almost half of our eight years of marriage. A man who has missed birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, big days and little days. A man who would give everything -- even his life -- for strangers, and anything for his family. Being a military spouse isn’t easy. There are times of unbelievable ambiguity, with where we will live, where he’ll be, when he’ll come and go. There’s great uncertainty, with his mission, his safety, our future. But in those gaps of clarity, is unwavering commitment, to one another and to his service. You can’t wake up one day and quit the military. And I won’t quit him either. I am honored to be a military wife. That doesn’t make me just a spouse. It makes me a patriot. It makes me inspired by the work our Armed Forces do. It makes me achingly sympathetic when I see a coffin draped by our stars and stripes. It makes me resilient, independent and supportive. And it makes me damn proud.
I’m not just a spouse. And you’re not either.
Whether you’re a lawyer or a teacher, a photographer or a coach, a stockbroker or someone who sells leggings from home, you’re not just a spouse. Whether you’re looking for work, or taking time off, whether you graduated from Harvard or barely made it through high school, you’re not just a spouse. You are not “just” anything. You are everything. And together, we are even more.
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