November is Military Family Appreciation Month. This is a month of recognition for the families that are the backbone and provide support of those that serve our country. Military families are incredibly resilient, they are strong, and I am proud to be part of a military family. As we take time this month to reflect on military families, I wanted to share some thoughts on some of my favorite things that I have come to embrace and love within the military family life.
It goes without saying that I support my spouse.
The pride he has in the uniform he puts on every day resonates in his military career. He believes in the importance of the fundamentals that our military was founded on. His uniform needs to be squared away. He needs to shave daily. Speaking of, after a decade and a half of shaving almost daily, pray for his poor face y’all. He understands the importance of respect for reveille and retreat. He makes push-ups look too easy, even with kids on his back.
Now, let me tell you a little bit about the other side of all the “squared away” stuff. You know, give a little behind the scenes banter of military family life. Remember that uniform I just mentioned? If you don’t check EVERY SINGLE pocket in that thing, you may end up with an ink pen that explodes in your washing machine. That is one of the first initiations into military wife status and you either learn from being told, or you learn the hard way. You also need to check for hidden green books (this is basically a small notepad). Sure, those little books are weatherproof, but you take a risk washing it.
Soldiers train. We know this. They train often and are away from their spouses and children frequently.
That means as the wife in this situation, I got a crash course on how to pack a ruck sack early in the relationship. There have been countless times where my husband has laid out ALL the equipment needed for different types of training exercises. He will have his list ready and spout out things like “Do you see my IBA or FLC?”. Insert Army wife deer in headlights look here. Also, standard procedure in this instance is to get on google immediately. I can say with certainty that over the years I have come to learn military abbreviations well or can guess what they mean.
Once our children started getting bigger, he would get them involved in the packing as well. Our oldest son is the serious one and he will hold the packing list and wait for his next item to gather. My daughter is a tiny Tasmanian Devil. She is there to provide comic relief by trying on different equipment and simultaneously messing up the entire room. While the packing can be fun (for the kids), they know that means dad must go away for a while.
This can be challenging for our family at times, but we have come to “embrace the suck” and our kids know that what daddy does is important for our country.
We have two children who are 7 and 5, so they are still a little too young to fully grasp exactly what daddy does. They know their dad is an “Army guy” and training is part of his work. One of my jobs as the mother is to help guide them in this life and provide support for their feelings about it. So far, they seem to be proud, happy, and thriving and I intend to do my best to keep it that way.
So, now you know that my life basically revolves around that uniform (literally), as well as the importance of massive amounts of equipment that take up space in my home. I wanted to also share common ground with the civilian life. It’s called: The PT belt. The PT belt is a running joke in the military community. It is basically a giant yellow reflective belt needed for safety when working out and/or running. The coveted PT belt is just like anything else the common husband loses, like his keys or wallet. If you lose the PT belt, all panic ensues, and this usually takes place at 0500 (that’s 5am in military time). I find it ironic that one of the main items needed almost daily for active-duty life is literally intended for people to see, being as it is bright, yellow, and reflective.
So, the next time your spouse loses their keys, take comfort in knowing that somewhere out there an Army spouse is looking for a bright yellow belt and feeling the same way.
Military family life can be plain hard. The support our families receive from others is irreplaceable and we cannot express how much we appreciate those that provide that care. The strength and resilience we have gained is in part from the people around us who provide this support. Finding humor in this life is imperative for surviving in it.
November is a time to REFLECT on military families and their sacrifices. While you are reflecting, you can take comfort in knowing that military families are just out there, looking for a reflective belt.