*In honor of Memorial Day, I would like to thank all of those who have sacrificed for our country--and also like to think their families.*
Sometimes, I look at myself 9-10 years ago (before I married into the Marine Corps) and I have a hard time remembering life as that person. I have been aware of the plight of military members and their families for a long time, including an awareness on a personal level since the age of 16 when I was dating a young recruit at Parris Island. But it was not until I stepped into the role of Marine Wife that I had a taste of what this life means--all that it offers, all that it gives, and all that it takes away. The phrase, "If the Marine Corps wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued one to you," rings loud and clear. However, without those of us holding down the fort at home, I bet the military would not have as strong of a foundation as it does. Military families are heroes, too...allowing the brave Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen to perform their duties to our country with the comfort of knowing things on the homefront are taken care of by the ones who love us most.
Military wife life is not easy. It's hard. It's lonely. It's stressful. It's, at times, quite scary. It has made me a stronger person. I truly believe it has made my daughter a stronger person. I also believe it has made my marriage stronger. As I read Facebook posts of civilian friends who must spend a night or two without their loved ones or hear of someone upset that their husband is working a few late nights this week, I am reminded of the separations and the hardships military families face. Who among our group would stress about a night apart? Who among us hasn't prayed that time move by faster--that the months and years could be behind us so that we can be a family together again? I sometimes have to ground myself--it IS all relative. Just because WE live this life doesn't mean that EVERYONE is privy to the understanding of our experiences. Just as I beg for others to understand OUR lives, I must be respectful of others. I must be thankful that I have the experience and the understanding of deployments and of having a husband whose job comes first in our family. Without these experiences which I often consider hardships, I would not have the ability to reflect and enjoy the little daily moments of so deeply.
I don't ALWAYS focus on the part of my life that is wrapped up in the Marine Corps, as I try so hard to define myself as an individual. But, the truth of the matter is that the Marine Corps is present in every second of every day of my life--and it has played a huge role in makeing me the woman I am today. So, I would like to take a moment to share some of my greatest lessons learned in the past 8 1/2 years of being a Marine Wife.
-- You can do many things you didn't think possible. And, you CAN do it on your own.
-- Belongings mean little. Carrying the memories in your head is the safest place to keep them. (This is particularly helpful with moves...the less clutter, the fewer boxes, the better in my book.)
-- It is possible to overcome differences. Marines (and other service members) can stand side-by-side as brothers no matter how they differ on any level. We should take their example.
-- Related to the previous lesson, you can find friends in places you least expect them.
-- Military friendships are different than any other friendship on the planet. You can have people come and go in your life. You can support other military wives through a certain period of time. You will likely be separated before you are ready--and may sometimes lose contact--but this never lessens the strength of your friendship, your bond, or the importance of your duty to each other.
-- Contrary to what some believe, serving your country is not about politics or religion or anything else...it's about something deep inside a person who has a call to do something most of us cannot comprehend.
-- You don't know the true FEELING of excitement, anxiety, nervousness, fear, joy and about 100 different emotions rolled into one until you are waiting on the bus to pull up after a deployment.
-- A hug after a deployment is the best feeling. Ever.
-- That hug after a deployment does not make up for all the months spent apart, living separate lives and growing separately. Reunion is great--reintegration is difficult.
-- Military kids view the world differently.
-- Sitting in the back seat to your husband's career doesn't mean he doesn't love you.
-- It's not always easy to live in the shadow of your husband--especially when you work so hard to achieve and be your own person. But, it's necessary...and probably worth it.
-- Homes do not have walls. Home is where the Marine Corps takes you...and this changes quite often...and that's okay. (It has to be.)
My list could go on and on...
But, the point is, I have become a different person--accomplishing things I didn't know possible through my Marine Wife life thus far. Many people will complain (myself included) that marrying into the military took away opportunities and chances. Though I do my fair share of complaining, I know without this lifestyle I would not have had the opportunity to live up to my potential...I never would have been challenged the ways I have been challenged...I never would have known the strength I had because I would never have been forced to find it. Without the Marine Corps, I certainly would not be able to pursue a PhD while being a full-time mom and living the comfortable life that we do. Without the Marine Corps, I wouldn't know all that I can do on my own. I would not have met so many of the amazing men and women I have had the privilege to meet along this journey. As I type this, I fear the coming years. There will be moves, separations, deployments--and all of the stress that comes along with them. But I know that I will have more of the friendships, more of the challenges, and more of the victories to build upon. In my mind I fear what will be thrown our way, but in my heart I feel that it will only serve to strengthen us as individuals and as a family. Semper fi!