Here’s a thought:
No matter how together we think we’re keeping it as military spouses and parents, no matter how great a job we think we’re doing, someone out there is doing it better.
I don’t mean for that to be a discouraging thought. Quite the opposite. Parenting is hard enough without the added pressures of deployments and relocation. Why drive yourself crazy trying to live up to an almost-impossible standard?
My husband deployed for the first time shortly after he returned to active duty. I admired him and other military members who did a difficult, dangerous job, and I wanted to do my part to support the mission back at home. We had a one-year-old, and I was in the middle of a tough pregnancy. I remember walking up and down the commissary aisles in a stained maternity top feeling so proud of myself that I had actually managed to shower and get out of the house. And then I’d run into an impeccably groomed friend with three well-behaved kids who was picking up organic produce to make homemade baby food for her eight-month-old.
We all understand the stress of the constant cycle of deployments, TDYs, and PCSing. Yet, we all know military spouses who somehow manage to do everything and do it well. Where do they find the strength to run marathons, keep a spotless house, and make their kids an authentic, pint-sized Boba Fett Halloween costume out of old magazines and duct tape? More power to them, I say. I wish I had half their energy and creativity.
Here’s the gift I’d like to give myself this Christmas: the courage to change some things about myself and the wisdom to know my own limitations. I will never win the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I won’t be turning that old bedspread into a historically-accurate Colonial Day costume for my daughter. And I will never, ever lose those last fifteen pounds of baby weight.
Instead of beating ourselves up over the things we don’t do well, why don’t we resolve in the New Year to celebrate the things that we do do well? When I got married, the only thing I knew how to make for dinner was reservations, but I’ve turned into a decent home cook. I’m obsessed with bargains and saving money, to the point that my husband has had to tell me to stop buying store-brand toothpaste. And I know I’ve helped create a loving home for our children.
Yes. I admire members of the military but I admire the spouses, too. I admire the seemingly perfect Super Moms who can run a home business, raise a family, and cook gourmet meals even while Dad is deployed. But I think the key word is “seemingly.” We all face our own particular family challenges, some are just more visible than others. I also admire those other military spouses. The ones with a loose definition of the word “clean." The ones who consider any day during a deployment without a trip to the emergency room a small victory.
To all military spouses who get through each day with grace, humor, and boundless love for their families: Well done!