Rant of the Day

So, the below poem has gone viral among military wives (feel free to scan right through – it’s kind of long/bad):

A Military Wife

Lots of moving…Moving…Moving…Moving far from home…
Moving two cars, three kids and one dog…all riding with HER of course.
Moving sofas to basements because they won’t go in THIS house; Moving curtains that won’t fit; Moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours. Moving away from friends; Moving toward new friends; Moving her most important luggage: her trunk full of memories.

Often waiting…Waiting…Waiting…Waiting for housing. Waiting for orders. Waiting for deployments. Waiting for phone calls. Waiting for reunions. Waiting for the new curtains to arrive. Waiting for him to come home, For dinner…AGAIN!

They call her ‘Military Dependent’, but she knows better: She is fiercely In-Dependent.

She can balance a check book; Handle the yard work; Fix a noisy toilet;
Bury the family pet… She is intimately familiar with drywall anchors and toggle bolts. She can file the taxes; Sell a house; Buy a car; Or set up a move… …..all with ONE Power of Attorney.

She welcomes neighbors that don’t welcome her. She reinvents her career with every PCS; Locates a house in the desert, The Arctic, Or the deep south. And learns to call them all ‘home’. She MAKES them all home.

Military Wives are somewhat hasty…They leap into: Decorating, Leadership, Volunteering, Career alternatives, Churches, And friendships. They don’t have 15 years to get to know people. Their roots are short but flexible. They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them.

Military Wives quickly learn to value each other: They connect over coffee, Rely on the spouse network, Accept offers of friendship and favors. Record addresses in pencil…

Military Wives have a common bond: The Military Wife has a husband unlike other husbands; his commitment is unique. He doesn’t have a ‘JOB’ He has a ‘MISSION’ that he can’t just decide to quit… He’s on-call for his country 24/7. But for her, he’s the most unreliable guy in town!
His language is foreign: TDY PCS OPR SOS ACC BDU ACU BAR TAD
And so, a Military Wife is a translator for her family and his. She is the long- distance link to keep them informed; the glue that holds them together.

A Military Wife has her moments: She wants to wring his neck; Dye his uniform pink; Refuse to move to Siberia; But she pulls herself together.
Give her a few days, A travel brochure, A long hot bath, A pledge to the flag, A wedding picture, And she goes. She packs. She moves. She follows.

Why? What for? How come? You may think it is because she has lost her mind. But actually it is because she has lost her heart. It was stolen from her by a man, Who puts duty first, Who longs to deploy, Who salutes the flag, And whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her Military Husband, She will remain his military wife. And would have it no other way

—Author Unknown

Ok, so while there is some truth to it, this is generally the kind of crap that irks me to no end with the military wife movement. I get that it’s meant to be empowering, but I feel like it’s exactly the opposite – mostly because it feels like some sort of delusion, and really just makes us look more ridiculous.

1) You can balance a checkbook? Pay your taxes? Buy a car? On your own?! Holy crap, GOOD FOR YOU. Seriously though, every woman should know how to do those things, whether you’re married or not. The fact that you can (because your husband’s gone and you have to, apparently) does not make you special or more independent than other women. It just makes you a normal and basically responsible adult.

2) Yes, we move a lot. Yes, we drop things at a moment’s notice to accommodate for our husband’s careers. We wait. All the time. This does not make me feel strong or independent in the slightest. It doesn’t matter how you package it to make yourself feel better – being a military wife is generally a submissive role. I’m not strong because I follow my husband everywhere and live for almost a year at a time without him. I gave up control and accepted a life of relative uncertainty and loneliness to be with him. That’s because of my love for him – not my strength and independence (and we all know love is the greatest force of all – so I am not faulting that.) I know this is important to him. Therefore, it matters to me.

3) On a related note, even the term “military wife” denotes dependency and loss of control. Honestly, the nomer has made me feel a little stripped of my dignity and value as an individual, at times. I will never forget when I first stepped foot into the DEERS office on base to update my IDs, insurance, etc. I don’t know why Chuck bothered to bring me along. I was a number. And not even my own number! My husband’s number. They didn’t ask me questions about my date of birth, my contact information, my health history. They completely ignored me and asked Chuck. As if I was a deaf-mute or something. I promise I’m not difficult to offend, but I truly felt like a dependent little mouse of a human being that day (nothing against mice, of course – they’re cute.)

4) On another related note, the way I am treated as a military wife (to include by some Marines themselves) can be humiliating. As with many groups, there are plenty of stereotypes associated with military wives, so it can take a hefty dose of effort to get one of Chuck’s colleagues to address or even acknowledge me as an equal sometimes. I can’t fully blame them (since those stereotypes are present for a reason), but I am always greeted with surprise when they find out I’m an intelligent and capable human being. Otherwise, in general – I’m just “the wife.” I’ll pop out babies at some point and be the emotional parasite in “flops” back at home.

5) To add to the irony of the situation, when I do accomplish something “independent”  (i.e., getting my own job, not showing up to every little event because I have my own stuff to do, not getting pregnant right away, etc) I actually receive judgement and exclusion from some of the very women who are supposed to be supporting me in this endeavor of “strength.” Seriously… can’t win!

Anyways, I don’t mean to be overly critical or under-appreciative. I was raised in the military, and I respect my husband to no end. I love many things about military life and there is plenty of value in it, even as a dependent. There are definitely areas where we are strong – but the truth of the matter is that it’s because we really have no choice. We are very dependent. Sure (some of us)  make the most of it, but it’s not because it’s what we want for ourselves or for our families, necessarily.

The job has to be done, so someone has to be willing to do it. It’s sacrifice. It’s giving things up. That could definitely be qualified as strong, but when to comes to the idea of being strong as a woman or an individual – the sugarcoating just doesn’t do much for me.

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