Life as a military wife and mother

How can I not? July 22, 2011

Filed under: Army life — holdingdownthehome @ 18:30

How Do You Do It?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while. I have been asked this question innumerable times the last eight years, and more and more every year that passes. And even more since I started this small blog. It’s a really loaded question because there really isn’t just one answer.  If I had to pick one I would end up answering, “How can I not?”

Thanks to my parents, my Dad especially, I grew up respecting the heck out of the military (even though he didn’t necessarily like me dating them LOL). Now, having been “married to the military” for 8+ years, that respect has grown to overwhelming proportions. No matter the season my marriage was in, an up or a down, I have always been able to look at my husband in his uniform and be awestruck at the noble, courageous image of him. How could I ever go to that amazing man and say, “I don’t want you doing this deed for your home and country”? I couldn’t. Not ever.

As for how I do it… I have a very clear understanding that while we are an Army family, the Army oftentimes has to come first. The system wouldn’t work if it didn’t. My career and life are secondary to my husband’s. I have learned to accept and more recently to appreciate this.  I suppose not every woman or man would be okay with this. For me, I have realized this is God’s plan. I am a helpmeet to my husband. When I realized this, at first I was pretty put out. I mean, shouldn’t God have an awesome plan for my awesome self? (LOL) He does! And right now, this is it. Not very enlightened, huh? Oh well. Enlightened is over-rated. The only people I have to please are God, my husband, and my son. No boss, no co-workers. No reports, or deadlines, or phone calls. Just my family and my home. As for that opportunity? “How can I not?”

Does that mean that every minute of every day I am completely strong and put together? Not a chance. As a military wife we usually are expected to be strong all the time (or at least we feel that’s what’s expected). To put away the “bad” facts of this life. Often that’s what we do, but sometimes it catches up with us making for a bad day, or at least a bad few minutes. When we’re laying in bed the night before they leave we think “Will this be the last night we get to lay like this together.” When we drop them off and say goodbye, “Will this be our last kiss, the last time I’ll see him.” When he kisses our child, “Will our son remember him if he doesn’t come back?” When we argue on the phone or computer when they are gone we later think, “What if that’s the last conversation we have?” When we get word of a friend’s husband or wife being killed, “How would I be able to go through that?” I admit, it can make you feel very heavy sometimes when the worry and doubts creep in.

But God always lifts me back up. Sometimes he will just show me my son, who has a hero for a daddy. Or a stranger will come up to my husband in the airport just as he gets home for R&R and hand him money to take his family to dinner as a thank you for what he’s doing for this country. (yes this happened) Or my husband will send me an email just to tell me he loves me and is thinking of us. That is how I do it. I do it because God has asked it of me. Because my Husband has asked it of me. And they are both worth everything I can give them no matter what they ask of me. So, “How can I not?


Making Deployment A Not-So-Bad-Thing June 18, 2011

Filed under: Army life — holdingdownthehome @ 17:56

Deployment. That dreaded word that makes our hearts ache and our mind spin. I get asked all the time, “How do you get through it?”. My answer, “I DO SOMETHING!” Your life will not stop when your spouse leaves. Yes, you still have to take care of the house, the kids, the cars, etc. But, deployment can actually be a great time to do something for YOU! How often do we complain there isn’t enough “ME” time? Well, for one year you have one less person to take care of, so use some of that time to do SOMETHING!

What have you always thought about trying, but never had the time? What is something you want to do for YOU, but were always so busy taking care of others you could never seem to squeeze it in?

To get you started here are a few ideas:

Learn to Scrapbook

Take Guitar lessons

Try a new workout class

Take an adult education class like learning French

Start a garden

Take art lessons

Learn to Salsa!

Seriously the list is endless! Don’t wallow in those “half-missing” feelings. Use this deployment to do something great for yourself. I promise it will make the time go by much faster, and make you a much easier person to live with. Turn this really sucky situation into a time of self-discovery. You DESERVE it!


Being Married to the Army January 30, 2011

Filed under: Army life — holdingdownthehome @ 13:27
Tags: , , , , ,

Hi everyone! I wanted to do a post about being a military spouse, at least in this house. I know a lot of people are curious about what it’s like and what we really live like. So I want to tell you!

Like I said in my first post, we are stationed at Fort Drum, NY and my husband, Matt, has been stationed here for over 10 years. This is UNHEARD of! To stay at one place so long is really not very common. People could say we’re very lucky… or very unlucky! I know many military families really hate Fort Drum but for us, it’s just home. My whole family lives here and always has so it’s perfect for us.

When we first got married in 2003, we lived in the Army base in a 2 bedroom apartment, with a garage. Pretty darn nice for a first apartment. We had our garbage picked up every week and if something went wrong inside we just called housing to fix it. As well as the bedrooms, there was a living room, a dining room, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a full laundry room. And a small balcony (or a small fenced in area if you lived on the bottom floor) out back. It was really perfect for us and served us well for two years. Then we decided on buying a house and found a great one out in the country. Because we no longer live on post, we get a monthly stipend of money for our living expenses on top of our regular pay. As it stands right now, this amount exceeds our mortgage amount, as well as our utilities. In other words, it’s a GOOD THING! This amount changes based on the post area you are in and your rank.

At Fort Drum, right now, and since 9/11, it is very common for soldiers to be on bi-yearly deployments… meaning they deploy every other year, for about one year. This has been true for Matt. Here is the rundown for him, we were married in March 2003. He left in July 2003, and came back in May 2004. Then he left in February 2006 and came back in May 2007 (this ended up being a 16 month deployment). Left again Dec 2008, and came back in Dec 2009. Then they often leave for trainings, schools, and weeks in the field. Yes, he’s been gone for about 50% off our marriage. And he is getting ready to deploy again within the next 6 weeks or so. This is the hard part of this life.

But is it all bad? NO WAY! I would never say that the “perks” make it worth it, but they certainly help! Aside from our housing allowance and a steady job… we get medical care. And when I say that… it is pretty much all-inclusive! I do not even pay co-pays when we go to the doctor. Our prescriptions are paid for. I had surgery in 2006 and did not shell out ONE DIME for it! On top of physical care, they also allow us to have counseling services, which come in handy dealing with everything we all deal with. How many people in this country can say their health-care is this good right now? For this, we are BLESSED! Another thing the military does for us, is gives us a bit of extra money when Matt is deployed. This has allowed us to pay of debts many times.

There are other small ways we are blessed by the military such as gyms to workout in, a few hours of childcare each day while the soldiers are deployed (these are on post), cheaper gas prices (usually) on base, and many more. I will never say anything is worth my husband being gone all the time, but we have it better than many in this day and age. I am grateful for all that I have and hope other spouses feel the same.

I would love to answer any questions you might have about this aspect of our life so leave your questions in my comments section and I’ll reply to them! 🙂