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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Military Wife

I had a lovely play date for moms and kids today at my friend's pool. It got my mind working so I thought I would blog. I got married when I was thirty. My previous encounters with other women took a standard course. Junior High and High School girls were as torturous as you remember. College roommates were head cases, funny beyond measure, drunk fests and peeing behind bushes that looked WAY bigger the night before (which explains the horns honking). Then came the co-workers. Teachers, female cops, social workers, dispatchers...all quite capable of being good friends (very few),mentors, backstabbers, worst enemies, mother figures, and so on. All things considered I felt my mother, my favorite aunt and my sister to be my only true allies in life. I had a rare few others that I let in regularly. It was just too hard dealing with most women.They made me tired.

This changed dramatically when Bob moved back into active duty status. Newlyweds and a new step mom, off we went to Japan. Since then I have witnessed time and again the true bonds that exist between military wives. They pick up and move, often with less than 2 months to prepare. They gently uproot the kids and pets. Before that they have gone over every school district with a fine tooth comb and repetitively check the housing market and base accommodations. Once they arrive she hunts down a new set of doctors,vet, a new church, a new hair dresser, a new playground, and the exchange or Wal-mart for new curtains, new toilet brushes, a new corkscrew, and new trash cans. She meets the priest, the CO's wife, the principle, the teacher, and the staff at the local Starbucks.

In the midst of unpacking she makes cookies for the new neighbors since they moved into the neighborhood a whole week after her. She offers to watch the new neighbors kids when the moving truck comes. Her husband asks, "what were you thinking? Don't take on so much." She swears to him that this time she is going to take it easy, not volunteer so much. Then comes the PTA, the OWC, and the church and she finds herself on committees that will strategically allow her to poke her head in her child's classroom 3 times a week. She begs donations, makes raffle baskets, makes fliers for chili cook-offs, and types newsletters. People outside of the military ask her why she doesn't work. She just chuckles to herself. They don't get it. They don't need to. She gets it, her husband gets it. Within a year she has settled in with some great ladies, swapped stories, shared wine and coffee and dip recipes. This is what she does, what we do.

I am a new mom. I just can't get the hang of nursing. I am traumatized head to toe from a 3 day labor and staples in my gut. My new friend checks on me. She is a nurse. I have known her about a month. She comes over, takes the baby, and says "go to bed". She sits with me in my percocet haze, one hand on my breast one on the baby's head. Relax, don't give up. You will both get the hang of it.We did, she was right.

Bob and I wake up to the phone in the early dawn of prom night. State trooper- Ali life flighted- fell asleep- hit a tree-she was awake and talking when they took her. I call our best friends from our Japan tour. The ones who drove from California to Virginia to see my Brigid baptized and make a promise on her behalf. The friends you meet once in a lifetime. They answer to my sobs and are out the door in 2 minutes... in my kitchen in 15. "Go be with Ali, we're praying for you. Don't worry about the kids".

I was gutting out my 4th deployment with three little ones and no husband at home. I get up. I begin to violently wretch in the kitchen sink. "mommy why are you sick?" I can't get sick, it isn't in the itinerary! So, I call my friend. She is there in 2 minutes. She takes them and says, "go to bed". She returns them in her sons clothes because they were playing in the snow. I feel better, they had a blast.

Truth be told, you would be hard-pressed to find such an ally in the civilian world. We cry together, laugh together, make fun of each other, fight each other's battles, kiss each other's kids, scold each other's kids, scold each other's husbands. We deliver bad news, we deliver each other's babies, we celebrate together, and sometimes we mourn together. Then we say goodbye, promise to keep in touch. We don't have our mothers or sisters or even our husbands at times. We have each other and that is a lot.


  1. Wow! Stacey you are an awesome writer. Everything you said rang so true; you were just able to put it into words. I'm so glad you started this blog. I can't wait to read what you write next and look forward to hopefully still being here at Lejeune upon your return! We all miss you!

  2. You probably didn't know this but up until last year most of our time spent after the Air Force was rooted in one place. 15 years in Northern Virginia (where my girls grew up) then, the last 5, before moving to Bahrain last year, were spent in St. Louis. Tim is Dept. of Defense, but we don't ever have to move…we can stay in one place if we choose. He just chose to come over here, to be in theatre, and give support best way he could! So, for us, it wasn't the government, or the military telling us we had to come…we chose to come because it was the right thing to do!