Salute to Spouses Blog

We're excited to be blogging about the latest topics in military life. We want to keep you informed on topics such as current events, education, career advice, etc. Feel free to post comments or questions to any of our entries.
Quizzes, summertime schedules, and post retirement reunification

By Amy Nielsen

My husband and I are on the fence about maybe going on the road with our rv and road-schooling our kids while we both finish our degrees and licensure over the next couple years.

He finally comes to a point where he can retire from government service but still has a couple years left on his degree, while I have another year in this program and then a year of internship hours to complete before I sit for my license.

My program is mostly online with a few on campus classes. One of those on campus classes, that meets every three, has regularly scheduled quizzes. In between we have online assignments to complete. Like most professors, this one recycles the same class materials semester after semester so the majority of the course is already laid out. However, having a live component means this class has more flexibility than those taught solely online. The professor has just assigned us a pop quiz as punishment for not paying attention in class.

Although I am a student, I am also an adult and pop quizzes make me craycray. This is a master’s program not sixth grade. Not only do I expect my fellow students to act like it, I expect my professors to act like it too. If a segment of the student population is not doing the work, then it behooves the professor to take it up with them, not pop a quiz on the whole class on a holiday week.

So now that my delightful professor has decided to add a pop quiz to our line-up, due no less at midnight on July 4th, my holiday week schedule has gone from mildly invigorating to downright insane. I already have a plan in place to cope with my online classes and homework for this week, as we knew we wouldn’t have the week off for vacation. What I wasn’t planning was spending the extra hours studying for this quiz on top of it all. And - it all - is a whole lot this time around.

We - as a family - are still in the reunification process post military retirement. It’s kind of like the mother of all post deployment re-integrations that no one bothers to tell you about. Pictures of post retirement reunification time are all smiles, vacations, and gardens. It’s more akin to that oh so fun postpartum period they gloss over with smiling babies, only longer.

It’s been five years and I finally feel like we are sort of now living in the same household, though he still works an odd hours government job and the shifting schedule has made the reintegration slower. Part of the drive to go tiny and mobile is to allow us the chance to be inseparable for the first time in our lives. Inseparable is inconceivable to most military spouses. We just never get the chance to even try it out.

Like many families, the week of Independence Day is one I like to take as vacation. Every year, the first week of July, a conference is held that hosts both medical professionals and families living with my daughter’s rare condition. This year, with the actual holiday falling on a Wednesday, we finally have my husband’s work schedule sorted out so that we can all go. We have not yet been to this convention as it travels around the country and is always on the opposite side of the country from where we happen to be stationed. Now that we are retired and stationary, the conference location cycle has finally come around to hosting it in a city local enough that we can attend.

My school doesn’t recognize this week as a holiday week. We run on a trimester schedule. We take a month off in January and August. So I have a full course load of work to complete this week. It is also midterm and we are deep in the weeds on our projects. I travel a lot already. I live in the northeast and my school is in the mid-atlantic. I travel to campus regularly for classes. I travel to symposium, gatherings, and lectures that pertain to my area of interest. I also travel a lot for fun. I always have. Working on the road, even with my kids in tow is not new to me.

I have it all planned. While driving out, my husband and I can swap the task while the other reads papers, books, or listens to lectures. Then when we get to the conference, I could do early morning school as I do at home, while he takes late nights. That way we will have one parent available to go to the daily classes, panel discussions, group meet-ups, and fun activities planned with our kids. Being the tenth year, this conference is so big it burst the hotel and they had to close registration. It is going to be epic!

Two weeks ago the bricks started raining. Our kennel called to say that they had a family emergency and were going to be closing the kennel for the summer. So we scrambled to find a place to care for our pup while we were away. We found a solution, but it certainly wouldn’t be ideal. But we got it covered.

Then the RV got a flat in the driveway. Do you know how hard it is to get an RV towed out of a steep single lane gravel driveway? A slight financial panic and the grace of a neighbor with a heavy duty air compressor and we got that one solved.

As would happen, seeing as he is still a government employee, my husband’s schedule got shifted due to budget constraints. So he is now going to be staying home. The kennel situation got better but the parenting divide got exponentially greater.

Driving out and back is not an issue. I drive the same distance regularly. The school work on top of the fun isn’t really an issue. My professor can bite it, for sure, but I’ll cram it into my planning. The kennel closing wasn’t even the straw; heck, we’d just take the pup with us and figure it out – Semper Gumby!

What hurts is not having my husband with us for the experience, again. To not share, again. That even though he is retired, and family separation is supposed to be over, he is not here, again. To have the universe conspire so neatly. Every. Single. Time.

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

Salute to Spouses Scholarship Recipients