When we talk about the military and the service members the sacrifices that they make are those that reflect the military member themselves and while all the pride and shine belongs on them at times I think the families are forgotten. We cheer our soldiers on from back here at home and pray for them to come home safely, even if we do not know them personally that is what we want for each and everyone of them that gets on that plane for deployment. But today I want to focus on the ones that are silent and are heroes as well. The spouses that are home while their soldier, marine, air men or sailor is away.
I have walked that path, the spouse at home keeping the house running and doing what I had to do and while the lime light should not be taken from those defending our country the ones at home should have the lime light brought on them as well.
In actuality I have walked the shoes of being the “spouse at home” 2 times, once when Tom went to basic training and tech school and McKenzie was just 6 months old. He came home when she was 11.5 months old and nothing could have prepared me for the challenges we were going to face. As much as I had showed her photos of Tom while he was gone she simply did not remember who he was. I mean really I shouldn’t have expected her to as she was only 6 months old when he left but I had held out hope that she would.
The second time I walked the shoes of being “the spouse at home”I was with a young child and pregnant at the same time. Tom deployed when I was just 4 months pregnant with our son and when he left, we knew he would not be home to find out the gender, plan the baby’s room, help me get our daughter ready for a new baby to come in to our family and we knew he would not be home in time for the birth. We also knew that Tom would be missing more firsts with McKenzie as well the fall and winter holidays. While we both of us were not happy that he would be missing a major part of our family’s memories it was what we had signed up to do as a military family. While he was deployed things were not easy, on top of the normal day to day things, McKenzie was just 18 months old and walked around saying “Dada at work?” with a confused look on her face. I showed her photos of him and she got to talk to him as best as we could on the phone (which was not always easy since her attention span didn’t last long and the delays when talking because of the phone lines were hard for her to hear him) but none the less dada still was not there. Then there was the unforgettable doctors appointment where they told me I was high risk and they thought Logan had a hole in his heart, while I was juggling McKenzie on my lap as the doctor is trying to give me instructions on what we needed to do next. Then there was me falling down the stairs at 8.5 months pregnant and hobbling on crutches. I am sure that was a sight to see as I tried to make it through the commissary with a toddler in toe on crutches but it was what needed to be done. Then there was that phone call telling me that Tom had been injured and nothing more was said other then he was being treated for his injury. Really they couldn’t have been more vague and I am sure if they had known that they were telling this to a pregnant mama with a toddler as well they might have said it a bit differently the fact remained that I would be waiting to find out and that wait was about 18 or so hours (not that I was counting them or anything). I remember wanting to just break down and cry at all of these times but held it in till McKenzie was in bed and then allowed the flood gates to open. My mood is what made her mood, and I learned that quickly so as hard as it was some days I put a smile on my face and kept things normal.
While all of those challenges occurred there were some very happy times. Our cat Tucker had ran away (aka fell out a window while we were gone for the weekend and couldn’t get back in which happened the week before Tom left) and 4 months after running away he showed up on my neighbors doorstep and found his way back home. I learned how to fix a few things on my own, got the baby stuff ready for Logan and the best news of all was that Tom was going to be coming home early because of his injury and my high risk pregnancy and would he home for Christmas and the birth of Logan. While I was upset for his injury and the stress of the high risk pregnancy is not anything i would wish on someone the joy of knowing that he would be there made the challenges that I had faced seem well worth it.
We were lucky in his deployment though, we got to talk just about every day and sometimes more then once, even if they were only a few minutes long the time on the phone was one of my brightest parts of my days and could make any day get better if it had been rough.
I share this with you not because I want you to pity the spouses but because the story of a spouse is not heard very often and quite frankly I think it should be. When the military member deploys or goes to training the spouse is home to be 2 people at the same time, to kiss boo boos, take out the trash, do homework, make dinner, get the car fixed, answer the questions of the kids who want to know when daddy will be home and keep the worry to themselves so the kids think nothing is wrong. No military spouse that I have ever met wants to be in the lime light, they stand behind their military services members because they love them, they are proud of them and they support them. They signed up to be the silent one in the equation, not asking to be recognized for any of what they do but after walking in the spouses shoes (even just for 1 deployment) I think we all need to keep them in our thoughts and prayers as well when we do that for our soldiers.
The military spouses aren’t there because they have to be, they are there because they want to be. They believe in their soldier, air men or sailor and support them for joining the military. They do not do it for the glory, or to be in the lime light and many times you won’t hear them utter a peep about their struggles because their focus is on their soldier, marine, airman, or sailor and making sure they know that they have the home front covered. While this is not spoken of much it is something that I think we all need to remember and keep in our thoughts as we think about the military in general.
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