From Scared to Strong…Perspectives on Being a Military Spouse

grow-73354_1280By Guest Contributor, Crystal Barnes

As military families we all become very familiar with changes very quickly. Everything in life is subject to change. We talk a lot about the big changes in our military lives: moving, promotions, raises, deployment dates, units, and even our doctors. Don’t get me started about how many times my PCM has changed…but I digress!

The change I want to talk about is our own perspective and how it changes over time and experience.

Do you remember the first time you drove on base?  I do.

I was so intimidated by the guards at the gate.  Honestly, I was a little freaked out.  I don’t know what exactly what I was scared of or what I thought they would do.  Maybe I’d been watching too much prime time TV.  But now,  I barely even consider the stop at the gate other then to wonder where I put my ID (at that very last moment, of course).

Do we ever stop to think about the person at the gate?  How they view us?  Are they a little freaked out by us?  After all, so  many of our gate guards are pretty young themselves.

I remember this one time when I’d left my wallet in my son’s baby seat.  Great place for it, right?  When I pulled up to the gate, rather than twist around and grab it out myself, I rolled down both windows and asked the guard if he could hand me my wallet from my son’s seat.  It was way easier for him  to reach it, but based on his facial expression, you would’ve thought that I asked him to do something akin to facing mortal combat.  Putting his hand next to a baby?  Not going to happen.

Granted, it was an odd request, but I wonder if he was a bit put off because of the baby-factor.  But just give it time and the baby-fear might disappear and his own experiences will lead him to understanding the challenges of grabbing things from the back seat of his car one day!
It was so funny to see, the guard I was so intimidated by just a short time back was shaken by me. Well more accurately by an infant. I am sure once that young marine has kids of his own he will lose all of his baby fears, as I lost all of my gate guard fears through time and experience.

Even further back in my experiences, I remember how out of place I felt when I became part of our larger military community.
When we first moved to our current town, I wasn’t really used to being around a large military presence.   Again, I found myself intimidated and expected each and everyone of them to be 1) be carrying a loaded weapon and 2) moments away from busting out some Steven Segal moves. But time has passed and now I feel at home, respected and protected, rather than threatened by all the uniforms.

As time passes, my perpsective continues to change and adapt to  new challenges.  I found this to be true yet again when my husband deployed.  Now seeing those same men in uniform leaves me with a sense of  longing and a twinge of sadness. I know this to shall pass, and when my husband returns my perspective on distance and love will change again.

It’s so easy to forget how time has shaped who I am and my understanding of our military experience.  Every time I meet a new military wife or get wanted (or sometimes even unwanted advice) from an “old” one. I try to remember perspectives change. Maybe that new wife is still terrified of the gate guard and just needs someone to listen, understand, and be patient.  Maybe the more experienced wife really has a great piece of advice she learned along the way.

Sometimes I think we all need to remind ourselves that what scares or intimidates us today might just be the thing we look back on and see how far we’ve come (and laugh a little, too!).

DSCN1491 - CopyCrystal Barnes is perfectly imperfect.  She is the wife of an amazing Marine, who is also perfectly imperfect, and is a stay at home mother of two wonderful children and a dog. You can follow her blog at Military Wife, Humor and Life.

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