I’m not a naturally flexible person…and I’m not talking about yoga. In many ways I’m very carefree. I work as a veterinary technician in an ER and I respond to stress with a calm and collected nature; I understand how to “go with the flow” because life in an ER is not predictable. Despite my ability to roll with the punches, my natural inclination is to plan.
- When I go on vacation, I research every detail right down to the average weather temperature so I know exactly what to pack.
- If I’m having a party, I’ll organize my guest list into categories including who is likely to come without RSVPing and who is likely not to show even though they didn’t bother RSVPing.
I would love to call it being prepared, but in my heart I feel it’s more that I’m flexible- with an asterisk.
Reserve Families are NOT Immune to the Unpredictability of Military Life
One thing I can’t plan for, on or around, however, is the military. When I tell people my husband is a Reservist, people tend to assume that my husband heads off to drill one weekend a month and that’s it. But that, is definitely, not that. My husband’s Reserve commitment often results in him…
- coming home from work and to only turn around and start working military related tasks.
- getting phone calls in the middle of the night.
- missing out on our planned days together.
See? It’s not so different from an Active Duty military spouse’s experience.
During my seven years of being with my husband, I have definitely learned how to be flexible. This is what I do know:
I know that when I’m sitting in the ER, having had an epic battle with a bookcase and having lost that epic battle, that the phone is going to ring and I will be abandoned for military duty (that’s a true story). I know that when I purchase a Groupon for a non-refundable helicopter tour and we both take the day off of work, his phone is going to ring and we are going to miss our flight (also a true story).
The Marine Corps just doesn’t care if you are married and have a wife who is all dressed up and waiting for your anniversary dinner that is three years late (another true story) they are going to call and make you late for dinner. Which is ironic since the Marine Corps taught my husband that punctual means being 15 minutes early. And all of this means that my desire to plan and prepare every detail means that I also have to plan for what happens when our plans get ruined by the military
Most importantly, I know that after five years of marriage and seven years together total, that strong isn’t what I need to be as a military spouse. What I need to be is flexible.
So, I have friends who accompany me to have dinner for two, plus or minus the candlelight. I have learned that a bubble bath and good book can substitute for a lot of things and that sometimes, sitting on my couch and laughing with a friend at the idea that making plans is just starting to feel stupid can make up for a lot.
I never thought I’d think planning my life would feel stupid. But, one thing I can say is that a lot of growth happens when you realize that you can plan your whole life down to every detail of every minute, but the military doesn’t care, and you can’t plan for the military.
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about the military, but I am pretty sure was talking about me.