Friday, December 12, 2014

The Choice to be an Army Family

I'm not a superhero.  Sometimes, I joke about being one when I tackle a mountain of tasks in one single day.  But I'm not.  People thank me for my service to my country by being married to a soldier but the truth is, I know no different.  The only kind of wife I've ever been is an Army wife.

This life is a difficult one and I have no shame in admitting that fact.  My marriage is composed of three entities: myself, my husband, and the United States Army and one of us is making a lot of decisions without consulting the other two.  We're told where to live, where Adam will work, when he'll be gone, and when he'll be home.  We're given parameters of traveling, how far and how long, and the Army insists on knowing where their soldiers are on a daily basis.  That can be a hard pill to swallow.

But, we've chosen the lifestyle, again and again.  Adam first enlisted for 4 years and we're creeping up rather quickly on his 12th anniversary of raising his hand and swearing his oath.  That means that we've had The Conversation several times.  You know the convo..."Get out or stay in?"  There was one time we were thisclose to saying we'd had enough, it was time to move on.  Then, he got promoted to Staff Sergeant.  I knew with that one act, that one event in our lives, that he had just become a "lifer."

Sometimes, I question the decision to stay in.  Our families all live in Ohio.  I have two brothers with children that I get to see once or twice each year.  I had the blessing of an incredible aunt growing up and I always thought that's the kind of aunt I was going to be...a fun, exciting, awesome aunt who always offered a place of refuge, but I'll never get to be that aunt.  That might be the hardest part for me and for the kids who will never really know what it's like to have cousins, who are like siblings that live down the road.  I also have four (much) younger brothers who are adored by my sons.  I've never had the chance to live near them so I'll never get to be the big sister to them that I was to my other brothers.

My sadness about not being close to family ebbs and flows.  As we prepare to spend some time over the coming holidays with our relatives, my excitement is sometimes marred by heartache knowing that our time with them is all too brief.  We won't get to spend as much time as we'd like with our aging grandparents.  I won't get to do all the fun things I want to do with our nieces and nephews.  My boys will have just a few days with their cousins and the rest of their extended family.

It's the distance that makes this lifestyle so difficult.  It's either the distance between us and Ohio or the distance between my husband and home.

But every time you ask us if we'd do it all over again, if we'd continue to make the choice to be an Army family...the answer is always yes.

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