Salute to Spouses Blog

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Volunteering: Helping Other Families, Strengthening Your Own

I have started a new volunteer adventure over the past few months and I wanted to share my experience with you all.

For the last year I have enjoyed volunteering for a non-profit organization on base, but I found myself wanting to give back to the battalion my husband belongs to, our immediate military family. Since my husband is not deploying any time soon, I felt like the least I could do was help other families by helping put on family events and/or fundraisers.

So this summer I became a Family Readiness Assistant. And it just so happens to put me directly under my husband’s direction.  Or as he would like to joke, he is now my boss.

I will admit, I briefly discussed volunteering for this program when we first moved here over a year ago but there were a couple other wives who held the position and I did not want to step on any toes or change the work that was already being done.

And, I wasn’t sure I wanted to work that closely with my husband, to be perfectly honest. For the last four years, I have put my role as a mother first and my life as a military spouse second. I still struggle with the whole military spouse hat even eight years into it and generally feel more comfortable in a small group of ladies. A whole company seemed frightening to me. I do not like to take on more than I can handle and being new to the area and the battalion, I backed away.

But things change. New people come and go in the military and a friend asked me to join her at a family readiness meeting. My husband’s company could have used an extra family readiness assistant so long story short, here I am.

And surprisingly, it has been going well! In fact, it’s been nice to have some “work” things to talk about with my husband around the dinner table. I know of upcoming events, deployment homecomings, trainings etc. I find myself asking my husband more questions about his work life that sadly, I guess I haven’t asked about the last couple years.

It’s not because I am not interested in what he does day in and out but when he comes home most days during (okay usually after) the toddler witching hour of making and eating dinner, clean up, baths and bedtime, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of down time for discussions.

I think my husband stopped asking me how my day was a long time ago because I am pretty sure it wasn’t a nice answer. And somewhere along the line, I stopped asking about his day. A piece of me misses having a career outside of my role as mom and it’s hard to hear about his accomplishments. Especially when the only thing I accomplished was keeping my kids out of the ER for the day. As a mom of two boys that is quite the accomplishment!

It’s been a little sad to look back and see that I became too caught up in my own stress and exhaustion. This new opportunity has given me a little more purpose, not only as a military spouse in my husband’s battalion but as my husband’s wife as well. Helping other military families, whether the act is as small as sending out an email with events or making cookies for deploying Marines, has given me a purpose outside of my home. My confidence and motivation has increased and I find myself a little happier on the busy days of running to base for meetings and family events with my kids in tow.

I never thought that the busier our lives would be, the better but it really has been a positive change.  We are talking around the dinner table and it’s not just about our kids and their potty training habits! It’s been a fun change around our house and I hope it continues. My goal was to help other military families but in doing so I have also helped myself.

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