1) Every duty station is what I make of it. Even though I sometimes get stationed in places that I would never choose, it is my job to make that place our home for the duration of our time there. I can choose to sit, mope, and complain about how horrible this particular place is OR I can meet new people, explore my surroundings, and try to stay positive. Not only will a good attitude help my spouse and children, but it will also make time go by more quickly if I am stationed in an area I do not particularly care for. Speaking of attitude......
2) My attitude directly affects my husband's job performance. If you have married a military man, you need to quickly realize that everything isn't always going to be all about you. Yes, it is unfortunate if they have to do a mandatory "fun run" on their scheduled day off or get posted to work Christmas. However, taking that out on your husband isn't going to create a better situation. Our husbands have to do what they are told to do. When you think exceptions need to be made for YOU or make selfish choices, you can damage your marriage, your husband's reputation at work, and also affect his squadron as a whole. If your husband isn't able to do his job, then someone else has to unfairly pick up the slack. If you husband doesn't do his job or calls into work because of something insignificant, then YOU are causing another woman's husband to work twice as hard or come in on his day off. We have to always remember that even though we feel like being selfish sometimes our actions can always affect not only our family, but also other families. We have to make the best of our situation as long as our husbands choose to be in the military, even if that means until they retire.
3) Your military friends are irreplaceable. Our military friendships grow deep extremely quickly; we don't have many years to get to know each other. These women and their families become our families. They know what it is like to care for sick kids when you have the flu and hubby is deployed. They are willing to hold your hand while you give birth while your husband is thousands of miles away. They laugh with you, cry with you, and love you because they ARE you.
4) Show your non-military friends some grace. They have never and probably will never know what it is like to be in your shoes. I know how hard it is to restrain yourself from ripping their faces off when they tell you, "I know how you feel when your husband is deployed. My husband just got back from a week long business trip." They really aren't trying to irritate you(even though it is SEVERELY annoying). To them, a week without their husband does feel like a long time. To those of us who have endured 6mos+ long deployments, a week is but a second. So fight the urge to point out the fact that her husband sleeps in a cozy hotel and calls her every night whereas your husband sleeps in a tent and talks to you once a week for 1/2 an hour(oh and there is also the whole possibly getting shot at thing), and just take a deep breath. lol There is a reason God put us in the job of military wives; not every woman can do what we do:-)
5) I always weep when I see a fallen soldier story on the news. I always picture the wife feeling the lump rise in her throat when she sees "the car" pull up in front of her house. I have had nightmares about being that woman. I always sympathize with the pain she must endure when I think, "How will she tell the children their daddy isn't coming home? How will they go on?" The saying goes "all gave some, some gave all" and I think military families who have suffered the loss of a solider, airman, sailor, or marine have definitely sacrificed more than many people will ever know.
6) A holiday isn't important because of the date you celebrate it. What is important is the memories you create. Your children won't always remember that you celebrated Christmas one year on December 27th, but they will remember how it felt to be with their family. We have to make the most of our time as a family together because that is what we will remember years down the road.
7) It really makes me angry when someone criticizes the troops in a personal manner. I know the real sacrifice the troops and their families make, the naysayers don't. It is your right to express your opinion about the wars, but it is juvenile and hateful to personally attack the character and integrity of our American Servicemembers. Just because some individual military members have made poor choices or have displayed ugly behavior doesn't mean that you can assume that all of the troops are like that. Do not condemn the whole because of the unfortunate actions of a very select few. The troops are people just like you. They are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. They just feel a calling to serve because they believe in their country. They deserve support even if you do not agree with the conflicts the military is involved in.
8) Do not tell me that you "feel sorry for my kids". There isn't any reason to pity them. My children are extremely loved. They have two parents who are madly in love with each other and also are totally devoted to their children. Yes, my children may have to endure long periods of their dad being absent. Yes, my children move away from friends and see friends move. Yes, my children may move every few years to a new state or even a new country. They know that at the end of the day their family is secure and will love them regardless if they live in Texas or California or Japan. Our surroundings change, our situation may temporarily change, but they know that they love and security our family has is unshakable. Just as God picks special women for the job of military wife, He also chooses strong kids to be military brats:-)
9) You will be alone. A lot. I have spent only 2 Christmases with my husband in 7 years of marriage. Last year he was posted every single major holiday. He misses birthdays and anniversaries. He deploys for months or a year at a time. I have spent more time sleeping in an empty bed than sharing it with him. It takes a strong and secure marriage to be able to endure the stresses of military life. We have to make the most of our time together. To us, quality is really more important than quantity. I have seen the stresses of our life as obstacles Jeff and I have overcome together. It has not broken us, it has only made us stronger. There are many couples who could not successfully stay together with this type of lifestyle; I am very aware that my happy marriage is definitely a blessing. By giving our marriage to God and keeping HIM the focus, we have learned and became stronger as individuals and as a couple.
10) God is paramount on this journey. I cannot count how many tears I have cried out during this military life journey, but I know that my Lord holds each and every teardrop in His hand. HE gives me patience when Jeff is gone and I'm holding down the fort alone. HE places people in my life to be there when I need help or a shoulder to cry on. HE guides my marriage and provided me with a husband who always puts family first. Without God, I definitely would have taken this journey on a much bumpier road. HE carries my family and me in HIS arms, and HE will never let us go.