Salute to Spouses Blog

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The Tough Military Life Equals Happy Memories

Military life is a roller coaster. Most days I can’t imagine our life any other way. I feel so positive about the next 12 years (until retirement) but other days I daydream about a so-called normal life (whatever that may be) and curse the military for all the sacrifices we make.  

Lately, I feel like the later has been happening more and more. TDYs, long hours, budget cuts, Tricare issues . . . the list can go on and on. Luckily, when these feelings start to take over, something usually happens that reminds me just how lucky we are to be a military family.

One recent weekend we planned to get together with my husband’s aunt and uncle who were vacationing near our home in North Carolina. We haven’t seen them since our last PCS so we were very excited to catch up with them and reintroduce our boys to more of our extended family.  My husband’s uncle happens to be a retired Marine who served for 30 years. I have always enjoyed their company and look up to them as mentors in this crazy lifestyle. Even though Matt and his uncle took different paths in the Marines (officer and enlisted), it is comforting to have them as a resource and we greatly value their experience and opinions. 

Uncle Jim invited us to their rental, beach house for a BBQ along with some other military families they knew in the area. When we arrived, I was surprised to see such a variety of ages among the crowd. I expected to see people much older than us but there were current, active duty Marines only 10 years ahead of us too.

There were some retired Marines, like my husband’s uncle, some close to retirement and some who were marching on towards 30 years of service. We were the youngest of the group but felt like we were at just another military function. Lines like “Hey you work with so and so? We deployed together in 2010” and “We have friends in that neighborhood, do you know the Smiths?” were being thrown around. We were reminded what a small world our Marine Corps was and how connected everyone is to each other.

My husband spent time with his uncle when he was younger on Marine bases but this was my first time seeing my husband’s family in a military setting. I sat back and listened to stories of Uncle Jim as a drill instructor and learned how many of the Marines visiting him today were young privates when they first met him. He shaped their career and helped make them who they were today.

The wives talked about their children and asked how families were. Friendships that started 25 years ago picked up where they left off. They talked about their tours overseas, PCS and debated over the best duty stations. All of the wives had gone from stay at home mom’s to having their own careers near the end of their husband’s career. Everyone was settling in at our current duty station as their forever home. There was not one single negative comment about military hardships.

 I have always been more of the talker in social situations but here, I was completely content sitting back and taking it all in. I felt like I was watching my own life, but fast forward 10-20 years in our future: reminiscing with our friends whom we have met along the way, and being able to finish a conversation now that our kids have grown, settling down in our dream home and finding a career for myself.

I saw it - there was hope! This would all work out, the hard days and sacrifices would all be worth it. Normalcy! It may be a long, rough road there but eventually we would get there. It reminded me to slow down, time goes by fast. One day we will make a forever home, there will come a time to focus on a career for myself. Right now, I need to enjoy this journey for what it is - an adventure, and continue to make the best of it.

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