There are many things about being a military wife that are difficult and unique. My husband is, at times, gone more often than he is here. He was in Iraq for 15 months a few years ago, and has recently heard that he will be deployed again (we’re not sure where) next summer for a year. Then there’s the whole risking your life thing. And the fact that considering what he does, he doesn’t make a whole lot of money. For many, there’s the constant moving away from friends and family, though because of Sarge’s specific job, that’s not an issue for us. The list can go on and on.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected challenges, however, has been a battle of dependence vs. independence. The nature of being a military wife dictates that you need to have a good measure of independence in you. There are many times when your soldier will be away for weeks (or months) on end, and you need to be able to make it on your own. While I’m not big on handy-man type stuff around the house, I’m very used to doing the rest all by myself. A lot. I taxi the kids from baseball and gymnastics and doctor’s appointments. I handle the money and try to keep the house clean. I make decisions on discipline, bedtimes, house rules, and sibling fights. I do it all.
When we sign the kids up for sports or other activities, I do so based on if I can get everyone where they need to be by myself. If I make plans for me, I always do so with the thought of needing to have a babysitter in place just in case. I’ve hosted parties and attended parties all by myself. I’ve hired house repairs and car repairs, and purchased new appliances on my own. I’ve redecorated, rearranged, and reconfigured all alone. I’ve even coached Spike’s baseball team when none of the regular coaches have been able to go. (It didn’t go so well, in case you’re wondering.) I am very capable of…and very used to…doing it all on my own, and doing it fairly well.
But then Sarge comes home. And he tries to find a place to fit in, when we’ve made new rules, or have been fighting the same battle for a week, or have started doing something a bit differently, and he hasn’t been a part of it. He wants us to need him, as any man does. And yet….we have to NOT need him so much of the time. We’ve had to learn to get by without him, as a necessary part of our life. We have to be able to survive as just the four of us.
So when he comes home we start this battle of trying to figure out how to move forward without the resentment. And it’s always a battle. He resents that we saw this movie or went to that restaurant without him. I resent that he missed Blondie’s recital or wasn’t home to help when Goo was so sick. He resents that I moved his favorite chair or that the garage became such a mess after he had just cleaned it. I resent that I haven’t had time out with my friends or that he came in and dropped all his Army stuff in the middle of my clean kitchen. He resents that I changed the rule about letting the dog outside without his knowledge, and I resent that I suddenly have to make him aware of every plan or all my whereabouts all the time. There’s just always this resentment.
So we talk about it. We work past it. We figure it out. Sometimes a little of the resentment remains but we try to be patient and eventually even that dwindles away. And soon, things are comfortable again and we’re back to being one happy family.
And then he leaves. Again.
We’ll keep talking. We’ll keep battling our way past it. We’ll keep on keeping on, because we love each other and because we want this all to work out. But there are days…there are times….like today, when I’m just so tired of the cycle.