Dear Crazy Brunette Lady in the Beige Honda:

I know that the construction going on in Michigan gets annoying.  I know that being stuck in traffic really sucks, especially if you’re late for something.  Especially if you’re in a hurry.  I get that.  I really do.

I also know how hard it can be sometimes to merge into crazy freeway traffic.  It’s hard to judge sometimes if the big semi is going to change lanes or if the cute guy in the silver pickup truck is going to slow down or speed up so that you can get in.  It’s frustrating sometimes, that’s true.

However.  Today, that was MY cute guy in the silver pickup truck.  And he was simply driving home from an important meeting in our state’s capital.  You saw him.  You saw him in his Army camo with the “Iraq Veteran” license plate.  I know you flipped him off lots and lots of times, to express your discontent at his driving style.  I know it made you really mad when you were continually flipping him off and he smiled and waved as he passed you by. 

But for you to then scribble a note on a piece of paper…for you to speed up to pull alongside him and press that note on your window for him to read…for you to write “You should have died in Iraq”…I wonder what you’ve been through.  I wonder what in life could have made you so angry.  What could have made you so bitter?  How could you have become so unfeeling?

My Sarge has a wife who loves him.  He has three children who adore him.  His parents care for and respect him.  He is a productive member of society who pays his bills and recycles.  He drove the streets of Baghdad every day for a year, trying to avoid the roadside bombs and sniper fire.  He lost a friend over there.  Other friends are dealing even now with PTSD.  He spent a year away from his family, wondering every single moment if he would ever see us again.

But I’m sorry that the traffic was bad.  You’re right.  That sucks. 

I’m going to pray for you tonight, as I lie in bed waiting for sleep to come.  I’m going to pray that you can let go of the anger.  That you can find some peace.  It must be miserable to be so miserable.

And then I’m going to snuggle up to Sarge and say goodnight.  And I plan to thank God that Sarge didn’t die in Iraq, no matter what you say should have happened. 

I hope your drive tomorrow goes better.

-Bunchy

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Home Again

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.