by Maggie Phillips, Guest Contributor
My husband has a weird job. No, he’s not an ice road trucker or a king or anything like that (if you’ve never thought about it, do it now – “king” is a really weird job).
And yes, broadly speaking, he already has a weird job – he’s in the military for starters, and he’s an infantryman, meaning he particularly enjoys sleeping outside and long rucks uphill.
But while he’s technically still an infantryman, right now, he’s not doing infantry things.
He’s working in an assignment that’s out of the “real” Army, for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). TRADOC’s whole purpose is, well, developing training and doctrine. The reader could be forgiven for thinking that doesn’t sound sexy.
The job he’s in is largely safe and he’s home a lot right now and I’m soaking it all in. After going through my third trimester of my third pregnancy while dealing with 2 toddlers while he was deployed, I should be thrilled, right?
I think military spouses who have been in my position may understand why I say yes, I am, but with some reservations. If not, I give you permission to dismiss me as a heartless ingrate.
You see, my husband just came out of a job that was all hooah Army all the time, complete with the previously-mentioned deployment.
It was intensely immersive for our entire family on a number of fronts: I was a Family Readiness Group leader, involved in our church on post (which coincidentally, many of my friends from our unit attended), my 4 year old knew the words to the division song.
Drink the Kool-Aid? The Kool-Aid man knocked down our wall, said “Oh yeah!” and then we all did lines of the stuff off of the regimental crest.
We have insignia from my husband’s unit all over our house. We’d acquired it all so gradually and we wore it proudly and loudly. So loudly, in fact, that my husband asked me to change before we went to the gym for the first time at our new post. My husband said that we would look crazy if we rolled in with his water bottle and shorts, and my T-shirt, all emblazoned with his previous unit logo.
That was my first realization that we weren’t in Kansas anymore, metaphorically speaking.
I was able to articulate the dull throb of je ne sais quoi I’d felt since then when a friend from our previous post called me after we’d been gone about a month. She had a question about an FRG sale they were having, and I felt myself kick into gear. “Did you ask the FRL? It should be in the S-4 office at battalion if it’s anywhere, but he’ll know where it is if it’s not.”
It was like remembering a foreign language I used to speak. Damn, I felt alive!
I knew it then. I missed the esprit that a regular Army unit lent to its families. I missed having friends whose spouses were with my husband when he was away. I missed helping Army families.
We’re all supposed to roll our eyes at mandatory fun and I know for many the pressure on military spouses to be involved can be onerous. But it is strange to come to the quiet of a training post from the frantic pace of life in a unit entrenched in the train-deploy-repeat cycle.
Is it strange that I miss the suck of Army life?
It’s OK to acknowledge that there are parts of it you miss, even when it’s nice having your service member home safe and sound. I hear it from many of my friends whose soldiers are currently in grad school or recruiting posts or at Army schools, so I know it’s not just me.
I don’t have any answers, and I know we’ll get used to our new normal and make friends and a life here just as we have other places.
And I know when we return to crazy “normal” Army life, I’ll miss this too.
E. Margaret Phillips who goes by Maggie has worked for the Army in different capacities for over 3 years, for both U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and for U.S. Army Public Health Command. She has been published in the United States Foreign Service Association’s Foreign Service Journal, and in the U.S. Army professional publication, Military Review. She is a mother of 3 and has been an Army spouse for 8 years.