You Don’t Have to Love Your Duty Station


Quite frequently on my journey through social media groups, I notice spouses express how much they dislike where they are.  This is usually met with a gaggle of randos telling the spouse to leave the house once in a while.  They’re usually met with combative supporters of the original poster, and before you know it, anarchy!  Letting a whole group of spouses know you are not a fan of your duty station is sure to result in a strongly worded post from an admin of said group reminding grown women to be courteous.  Why does expressing dislike for a duty station bring out so much anger?  I have a theory that admitting dislike for a place touches a nerve within some because of the old adage that duty stations “are what you make them.” Sometimes, it just isn’t that easy for people. 

City people vs. country people.  It can be extremely hard to adjust to certain locations if they are vastly different from what a person is accustomed to.  For example, someone from NYC might find locations like Ft. Drum or Ft. Polk incredibly dull and boring.  These locations pale in comparison to large cities like NYC.  Sometimes people get defensive if the place in question is their hometown and they hear that another person does not enjoy it.  While it can be an adventure experiencing different places, it can take some getting used to.  I have definitely lived in places that I did not love, but cultivated friendships that made it bearable.  

What is up with the weather?  This can be another aspect of a location that mght make it undesirable for certain people.  Someone from California or Florida might find being stationed in Alaska like living in someone’s meat locker for some years.  Likewise, Northerners who are used to all 4 seasons might not enjoy being stationed in the South.  I know I’m not trying to be in a climate that breeds big-behind spiders and bugs…no ma’am!  Place with severe winter weather also pose serious risks to folks who aren’t used to driving in such conditions.  This can be really scary.  

Homesickness.  This can be hard to overcome.  One of the most incredibly assinine things I have seen spouses tell someone suffering from homesickness is to “get out and do things..you will never thrive otherwise.  Most people I know who don’t like it here never leave their house and just sit around like some ogres..”  Girl, bye!  Have several seats!  Nothing irks me more than the notion that simply partaking in activities a person might not be interested in will cure all.  This is something a person deals with in his or her own time.  It also doesn’t hurt to offer support though.  Like be a listening ear (or set of eyeballs) when someone reaches out via social media.  

Frequent deployments.  Sometimes families are faced with deployments that seem to just keep coming.  Our last duty station, my husband deployed twice in the span of less than 3 years.  This can be tough to deal with, especially if a spouse is new to the military life.  It is perfectly okay to struggle with coming to terms with living in such a place. Ignore those who tell you to “put on your big girl panties.”  They can also take several seats.  

There are duty stations that offer opportunities of a lifetime (overseas) and ones that make it necessary to dig deep and find a way to make it through until the next PCS.  While one place might be heaven on earth to one spouse, another may be experiencing severe F This Place-itis.  AND THAT IS OKAY.  Others might also be masking their disgust with a duty station because they fear being attacked by others or maybe it’s expected of them to hold their tongue and pretend it’s Candyland.  Either way, you aren’t breaking any federal laws by not liking your duty station.  

Advertisements

5 Struggles Shift Work Presents To Military Spouses


One of the harships presented to military spouses is the dreaded shift work schedule.  Whether a spouse performs in a job that requires regular shift work, or special duties like CQ on occasion, the struggle can often be too real.  Many spouses have had to learn to take daily life in stride when dealing with schedules that present conflict and interfere with participating in activities.  There are quite a few challenges military spouses have learned how to overcome…or have just grown used to.

1. Snow days and post closure do not apply.  This is one I have had the pleasure of being affected by, as the wife of a soldier who is considered to be essential personnel.  While those around me enjoyed the day off with their spouses, posting photos cuddling on the couch under their raggedy blankets, my husband was required to be at work.  So I had to post selfies shoveling my own darn driveway.  

2.  Four day weekends?  What are those?  I have also learned to say goodbye to extended weekends with my husband, because they are incredibly rare.  When they do happen, they are usually in blocks of 3 days during random days of the week.  While this doesn’t affect our time together as a family now, it was quite troublesome when I worked a regular 9-5 job.  We had to literally make the time to spend with one another and take care of the house in shifts.  It was exhausting.  Even if a spouse is simply on CQ during a 4 day weekend, it can put a wrench in plans.  

3.  When you also work full-time.  This is quite possibly hell on earth.  Well, maybe not that dramatic, but things can get challenging to say the least.  Especially if you have children and school activities.  While many military spouses stay home with the kids, or even work from home, those who retain employment outside of the home find that juggling schedules is like playing a game of tetris.  Just when you think you finally have the perfect formula for success, BAM!  His schedule changes again.  

4.  Sleeping alone is not ideal.  Before you come for me, I know people with deployed spouses sleep alone every night…and it sucks.  However, for those of us whose crusty baby daddies are not deployed, we are used to putting our cold feet on him on the regular.  So when shifts fall overnight, it can leave us wondering what in the netflix marathon am I supposed to do with my life?  Personally, I sleep on my husband’s side of the bed in his absence and it helps me fall asleep faster.  

5.  Attending unit functions or other activities alone makes you feel like a loser.  Sure, there’s always that one friend who invites you to sit with her and her husband out of pity, but no one wants to be the third wheel.  Of course, not everyone attends functions, but I enjoy making an appearance and partaking in the fun.  I also feel a lot more comfortable when my husband is with me so I’m not navigating through a sea of strangers alone. 

There are so many ways to look at shift work in a negative light, but there are also some perks.  When my husband does get days off, we are able to get our shopping done during the week when stores are empty.  We can also enjoy activities off post that are much less crowded than the weekends.  It’s also fun to prance around having family time while everyone else is working.  How bow dah!  

The Truth About Staged Homecoming Photos

IMG_1144.PNG

I know that many of us have primped and primed for that professional photo shoot. The one documenting the dramatic moment when lovers are once again reunited following a deployment. Yeah, it’s sweet and can produce amazing photographs that will be forever cherished. It can also present some comical situations that completely blow the event out of proportion.

High expectations can lead to actions that aren’t genuine. Think about the photographs plastered across almost any and every possible corner of the interwebs. The fairy tale poses depicting two lovers in one another’s arms with glee splashed across their faces. Some jump onto their significant other and wrap their legs around them for a smooch. First of all, ain’t nobody got time to be trying to catch my heavy self. I just don’t behave that way publicly with my husband and capturing memories doing so would seem fake to me.

The pressure to shop for the ‘perfect outfit’ can add stress.  Homecoming is already an exciting and emotional day. Why add to the list of things to do by stressing over which prom dress to wear to a musty gym to pick up your spouse? While it is a pretty big occasion, I have always kept it business casual for pictures because that’s just who we are as a couple.

Your significant other might need to race to the bathroom.  Don’t put too much stock into That Moment. You know the one. You spot each other from across the way and frolick into each other’s arms looking like the couple from Twilight. Then he/she says, “I need to pee really bad.”  There goes your million snapshots of the moment.

You’ll be in a sea of amateur photographers low crawling to capture moments for their clients.  This is super awkward. I feel like I’ve literally tripped over several aspiring Facebook photographers as they set up shop to capture every single nose hair and bit of drool from people ugly crying. Homecoming ceremonies have gotten so Hallmark over the years. I also don’t shed tears when my husband returns from deployment so I always feel like a heartless ice queen when I’m stepping over blubbering spouses to get to my baby daddy.

While I absolutely love the photographs taken at homecoming, I’m not sure that I would hire a photographer again. It amounted to posing after we already said hello.  I feel like we could’ve just grabbed anyone in the gym to snap a few shots of us together. I’m also a person who finds it a tad creepy having someone take pictures of me kissing my husband. Don’t feel bad if you can relate.

 

How To Deal With Overly Attached Military Spouse

OverlyAttached

If you’ve been in the military community long enough you start noticing that it’s truly a melting pot of personalities.  As a service member, I found it much easier to connect to people because everyone had the same goal and we suffered together.  As a spouse, I’ve been faced with some cringe worthy situations brought on by overly attached military spouses.  Usually well meaning, these individuals have violated my nature and my space.  I’ve developed some strategies to handle the overly attached military spouse.

The neighbor who knows absolutely no boundaries.  This one can be very tricky.  While some neighbors rush to greet new arrivals, others move at their own time.  Personally, I’m borderline introverted.  I need to get a feel for people before I commit time to them or invite them into my space.  I have never gotten to know my neighbors on more than a “hello, how are you?” basis, and that’s just who I am.  I’ve gotten lucky with great neighbors in the course of my time around the Army, but some can be a bit much.  One approach you can take is to let nosey Sharkeisha next door know that you’re not really interested in hanging out because she’s too loud.  Orrrr, you can be a little more diplomatic and just keep blowing her off until she gets the hint.  I’ve been known to walk around looking upset (resting b-word face), so I’m already naturally unapproachable.  Try that next time Bertha from the block strikes up a conversation you aren’t interested in.  

The rando you met on FB who you just can’t shake.  Facebook groups can be a godsend for military spouses in terms of meeting new people and making friends.  It can also help mask everyone’s crazy because you only see their online persona initially.  Once a meeting takes place and the realization hits that there are absolutely no common interests between you and this person, it can be a bummer.  Adding to the chaos, some people just don’t see things the same.  So now your messenger is blowing up with 20 questions about when your next friend date will be.  HELP!  The first thing to remember is that you don’t want to burn bridges in the small military community.  You might end up having to take one for the team and schedule another get together further down the road..like maybe a year.  I mean, most of us have “that friend” who had to grow on us.  Maybe this will be yours.  If you’re cold blooded and don’t care to spare feelings, you could always let her know that it’s not you, it’s her.  

The spouse with whom you don’t click but feel obligated to remain friends with.  This can be the spouse whose husband works with yours.  Maybe the menfolk (or women) hit it off and now they expect you to be friends.  The only issue is that her voice is like nails on a chalkboard as far as you’re concerned.  This situation sucks because you find yourself torn between wanting to cultivate your spouse’s friendships outside of work and running for the hills.  This is another situation where you can opt to suck it up and learn to love scratching chalkbords.  Or you can limit plans to only when husbands are present.  There aren’t too many ways out of this tragic set of circumstances, but survival is defintely possible. 

I’ve always felt sort of obligated to be surrounded by women in a Sex and the City PG-13 type of setting.  We’d tag each other in wine memes and post statuses about how they’re our chosen family or “tribe.”  Thanks, Army Wives.  Ever since that daggone show I’ve felt like the lonliest army wife ever.  Am I supposed to walk around in a thong at a military ball just to make friends?  I’m not sure how I’ve managed, but I have definitely met some amazing people that I don’t plan on losing touch with.  Thanks, Facebook.  I’ve always met some unsavory folks, such as the overly attached military spouse.  I guess it just comes with the territory.  There’s also nothing wrong with simply letting someone know that you aren’t interested in their company.  I’ve never taken that approach, so I’m going to need you to report back.