Girl meets boy, they fall in love, get married, buy a cute house, have babies and live happily ever after.
Throw in a move every 2-3 years, sprinkle in some deployments, a dash of field time, and a pinch of holidays your love will miss and you have the perfect military lifestyle.
Living this military lifestyle is hard, but it’s also something most of us would never give up. At the same time we struggle to find a balance. There are times that his job will come first.
We make it to our first duty station, find our village, find our church, make spouse friends, have a baby, settle in, and then get told to move across country to a new base. We get angry, and live in denial, and then we move. His job will come first.
You’ll mom-date for a while until you find your sisterhood again. Diving into all the volunteer opportunities, and spouse club outings. You won’t bat an eye at baking cookies for an FRG fundraiser. The field time will be plenty, the nights will be long. You’ll be upset he missed another family dinner, but his job will come first.
At duty station 5, you’ll finally find a job you love, one you’re good at. You’ve mastered the key to building your tribe, and bring them together regularly. You struggle between your volunteer commitments, and being the parent at home. He’ll miss bedtime routines, and be gone before the sun comes up, with another deployment coming. You’ll be mad he’s always gone, but his job will come first.
You get that “dream” assignment, the place you’ve dreamed of going. You’re hopeful for some good family time. For a chance to be a family. You’re happy to support him in his new position. Before you know it, you’re leaving sporting events early because he got called in to work, re-planning the pumpkin patch for the following weekend, and solo parenting at dance practice. You’ll feel run down, tired, unsupported, and will lean on the few friends you’ve fortunate enough to make. His job will come first.
It’s hard. Sometimes, it just flat out sucks. It gets tiring when it happens time after time. While we struggle to find our balance, we know he is doing something. Something worth waiting for.
He’s training the next generation, preparing them for whatever may happen, getting ready to deploy and keep us safe. What he does matters. If we look close, we can see the wear in his eye, even if he won’t admit it. While he loves us, and wants to put us first, he will put his job first.
It may not be the most romantic love story. It may not be the life we had dreamt of as a little girl. But it’s the life we have, and once you’ve been here in our shoes, you know it’s the life we would pick every time.
He will put his job first, but he does it for us.
Written by: Megan Harless, Lead Doula of Stars and Stripes Doulas of Hampton Roads