Remember a few blogs ago; I told you how everything goes wrong in the first three weeks of a deployment. That is true. But I don’t think I stressed how capable you are to handle these crises. And you will feel stronger for handling them.
Knowing who you can call on and calling them is a good way to shore up your strength. You don’t personally need to know how to use every tool in your spouse’s toolkit. You need to know who to call to show you how to use them.
The Good Chaplain’s first deployment, which was only a few weeks, coincided with bill paying time. He usually paid the bills, but I had done it several times in our married life, so no big deal. However, for some reason, I couldn’t get the checkbook to balance. I am a determined woman, and I determined it would balance to the last penny even if I took the entire deployment. But, my impatience got the better of me, and I found myself in tears on my neighbor’s front porch, asking her for help. Craziness.
You will learn how assertive you are, even when your spouse is not deployed, by dealing with housing maintenance workers, medical personnel, and your child’s education. These are areas of your military life you will deal with because your spouse is focused on the mission.
Your inner Mama Bear comes out more than once throughout this time of life. You will find yourself frequently advocating for your child. Especially when medical technician looks at you as if you grew a third eye when you bring your child in because they are running a fever and not acting like themselves, only to be fever free and chipper once you get to the clinic.
I advocated on behalf of Mrs. Staff Sergeant with the base school district over standardized testing. I am not a fan of standardized testing in schools because I don’t feel they accurately measure a child’s capability.
Mrs. Staff Sergeant is a smart person, but a terrible test taker. She did awful on the math portion of her standardized test in first grade, so the school decided she would be in remedial math in second grade. I argued the point with the school principal because she did fine on her math homework. As it turned out, none of the children in her class did well on the standardized test because it was the teacher’s first year, and she was nervous. Her nervousness spilled over onto the children, and they all did poorly. After talking this all over with the principal, who agreed with me, she said Mrs. Staff Sergeant would be in remedial math. I refused. We compromised with letting her start with regular math, and if she needed more help, we would get a tutor. If I hadn’t advocated for my daughter, she might have ended up falling behind her classmates.
Independence is a strength you learn over time. It grows over the years. Often you will find yourself attending events on your own because of deployments or other work requirements. It’s not fun, but by The Good Chaplain’s last deployment, I looked forward to going to the movies by myself or representing him at base functions.
That wasn’t always true, though. At our first assignment, the Good Chaplain was on the committee for a dining out ceremony. A dining-out ceremony is when military people and their significant others get together for a nice meal and an evening of letting loose. It involves a script of strict rules that can get you sent to the grog bowl if you violate those rules. A grog bowl is a large bowl filled with the most disgusting things known to mankind. If you get sent to the grog bowl you have to drink a cup and turn it upside down on your head to show you finished it.
We’d only been on station for a few months. We arrived early for the ball because he had some committee things to check on. He didn’t show up at my side again for 45 minutes. There I was, standing in the middle of the ballroom, knowing not a single soul. I was almost in tears. I hadn’t yet discovered what an extrovert I am. The next year, I dropped the car keys in my purse and threatened to leave if he left me alone like that again. But by that time, it didn’t matter because I had my posse by then.
When you first join this crazy thing we call a military family, you will feel lost, clueless, and maybe even stupid about certain things. But don’t worry. I promise you will find your strengths and be able to handle whatever comes your way. Or at least know who to call.
Until next time,