I never thought I’d marry a guy in the military. I never thought I’d be a military spouse. In fact, 4 years ago, I had no idea what that entailed. My knowledge of the community came from brief brushes–friends whose parents were National Guard members, friends who were in ROTC. I was totally clueless.
And alone. Very alone.
When you date a guy in the military and you live in an area that isn’t close to base, you don’t really have the opportunity to build your own community of spouses and significant others.
I had no idea how to be part of the military community…or how to be a military spouse. I had no idea if I’d fit in (and I had a sneaking suspicion I wouldn’t).
But 4 years later, I am so, so glad that I was completely and utterly wrong.
I’ve found a tribe of military spouses who have enriched my life more than I thought was possible. I’m grateful for that. And during this season of intentional thanksgiving, I am grateful for more.
I’m grateful for the generosity of the military spouse entrepreneur community. For spouses who know what it’s like to start out with a blank slate, to feel the need to create something for one’s career, oneself and one’s family, to follow passions regardless of the obstacles and difficulties in the way. For the friends who have been where I have been, sometimes frustrated, sometimes tired, always running on all cylinders and who have encouraged and helped.
For the friends who have been cheerleaders and who have introduced me to others.
For friends I’ve swapped services with to help both of our brands and for other friends who have pointed me in the direction of resources that have helped me. For friends who took a chance on me when I was unemployed and just starting out.
I’m grateful for the kindness and empathy that comes from knowing what it feels like to be. For my friend who drove me home when I was too sick to go to an event and didn’t complain when it meant she had to go by herself. For being able to freak out and be less-than-strong in their presence. To be able to complain and talk about ways to overcome obstacles too.
I’m grateful for the quirks of the military spouse community. For thinking I know the acronym alphabet soup…and then learning something new. For people who slap magnets and stickers on their cars and for those who don’t at all. For Bunco groups, tea parties and scholarship craft sales.
I’m grateful for the diversity that many people forgets exists in the military community. For the ability to walk into the Exchange and see military spouses of all different ethnic groups and nationalities. For the organizations and groups that work for equality and highlight the unique challenges that some military families face. For spouses who are political and not, who are left, right, center, up and down. For spouses of the male variety–who often feel ostracized or uncomfortable, but participate in the community anyway (and make it better!). For spouses who are LGBT and for their fairly new, but deserved, inclusion in the military spouse community.
I’m grateful for the shared experiences we have. For knowing what it’s like to love someone who belongs to Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty and what that entails.
For being able to laugh together at the funny moments that probably don’t seem funny to anyone else–mustaches during November, care package stories and mistaking “General Parking” at the commissary for meaning for the average person–not a high-ranking officer.
I’m grateful for the movers and shakers, the advocates. The people who see what’s wrong and envision a better community, better military and better nation.
I’m grateful for young spouses and experienced spouses. I’m thankful for veterans’ spouses and Gold Star spouses. For women and men who have experienced all facets of military life and are able to pass it on to others. I am grateful for the older spouses who have taken me under their wing, who have mentored me, who have befriended me. I am thankful, too, for those my age as together we’ve learned where we fit in the military spouse community.
For friends who span the globe; for those I hang with in real life and for those I share with from afar; for those I’ve met online and collaborated with, I am grateful.
I am grateful for military spouses who open their hearts and take chances. For the spouses who have welcomed me into their lives. For the ones who jump up, recognize me from our interactions on Facebook and hug me. For the ones I’ve shared dessert with and Metro rides with and coffee dates with. For the ones who say yes.