Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Common Denominator

As an Army Brat who grew up abroad, I have done my fair share of PCSing: moving around with my dad's boots, and whatnot. My first grade year, I went to four different schools in two different countries. To cope is habitat for me. I helped my mom pack up the priceless Czech crystal and watched her set up "home" in a new place. She was the quintessential homemaker. My house ran like a 1950s sitcom: mom in an apron, dinner at 5:30 every day, a dog, and kids in the fenced-in yard. When my sister and I started school fulltime, my mother took a position as a teacher's aide. In coming back to the US, we learned that feeding two growing and active children required a two income household. Her work in education enabled her to put a warm dinner on the table at 5:30 and ferry us kids to scouts, choir practice, track practice, debate competitions, and cheer us on unwaveringly.

Today, as I begin my role as a military wife, I meet people who remind me of my mom: those who stay at home and offer all the love in the world to raising our future generations. I admire these women and learn from their homeschool blogs. I stand in awe of the details that I "saw" as a child but never really took notice of their effort. Trials and tribulations aside, our common denominator is our military spouse-identifier.

On the other side of the fence of these remarkable women stand us child-less, career-oriented women. Not unlike mothers, we, too, cope with the moves, the household, while ever so precariously balancing our own careers. While in DC, punching that requisite HQ ticket to advance my husband's career, I have made multiple connections among military spouses, Coasties and beyond. In that mix, we are surrounded by classmates. Like us, my husband's classmates are in the same "stage": no kids, two incomes, elaborate hobbies, and too many recent wedding trips to count. To survive in an area that boasts $2500/month rent as affordable, two incomes are essential. We step out to happy hours where conversations consist of politics, weather, foreign affairs, music, new scenes, the newest fusion restaurants, and weekend plans to visit "rural" wineries outside of the city. To roll in this crowd, to politic on behalf of my husband's career, and my own (defense contractor), I need to be well-read, able to converse in acronyms, and sarcastically polite.

I have met women who, somehow miraculously, are both mothers and career women. I cannot fathom rearing children right now. I am a selfish person who barely takes care of myself, much less my husband. My perfectly matched cap dips in awe of these accomplished women.

In a recent blog, fellow contributor, Flo, detailed the precocious balance of young, career-oriented military-affliated SO. Far be it from me to classify our fellow Coastie Chicks as "traditional" military wives, but when we come home each day, moms/career women/combination thereof, we are wives.

We support our soldiers, our Coasties. We help affix the blue uniform, we prep for long deployments, we live life together, yet somewhat separate. And we turn to the community at large to help us cope, just I have learned to do my whole life. Sometimes, it is comforting to know who else is struggling—just like you.

-- Please note that none of the “categories” to which I have grouped us are meant in ill-regard. There are exceptions to the rule, of course; and that, my friends, makes life oh so interesting.

1 comment:

Flo said...

I used to think that age was the biggest common denominator in my little world. I find now that it's a sliding scale with a whole bunch of combined elements - age, family, occupation, ethnicity, religion, etc. And I'm glad our guys' work brought about our meeting! :)