Friday, October 21, 2011
Five Question Friday-- Semper Gumby
I have been fortunate to meet many amazing and supportive women since My G and I got married. The first few ladies were both wives of senior NCO's and I remember feeling like they had swooped over to (almost) literally tuck me under their wings and explain Army life to me. They were singularly dedicated to their Soldiers, yet they could also be pragmatic and very straightforward about Army life. They gave me some advice, and then they left me alone to find out for myself what I needed to do to succeed as an Army wife.
Stephanie has always reminded me of these women. I met Stephanie because she does predeployment and reintegration training and preparation for Army Community Service. Her job is to give young spouses and young Soldiers (and some not-so-young ones too) the tools they need to successfully get through deployments and then to create a new "normal" once they are home. She is also a Master Trainer, which in layman's terms means that she teaches others, how to teach like she does.
Did I mention I've learned a lot from her?
Stephanie's predeployment talks were legendary by the time my husband returned home from his second deployment. She would talk, with frank humor and perfect phrasing, about such things as getting the motor running after a long time in the garage-- sometimes welcoming a Soldier home after a deployment is not the wine-and-candles romance it seems, and she wanted wives to understand that physical and emotional intimacy may take time. My battle buddies and I were tired from laughing so hard by the time she finished.
I can't talk about Stephanie, though, without talking about her Soldier. I wish I could have met him. Her love and respect for him is so obvious, and she is such a strong person, that I can only imagine what an amazing team they made. It's not my story to tell, about this dedicated retired Soldier, husband, and father and the life that ended too soon. It's a story you can read in her book, Once in a Wifetime, which I recommend to all spouses. But I can tell you that his effect lives on in her humor and strength and example for all of us.
Stephanie, I don't know if you read my blog. I'd love it if you did. But I wanted to say "thank you" for all the times I've seen you pick yourself up after ridiculously long days. "Thank you" for the example you've set for all Army spouses, of strength and humor and dedication. And "thank you," especially, for those times when you were a friendly smile when I needed it most, or when you allowed me to be that smiling presence for you.
I'm honored that you answered my questions.
1. What are some things you know now about military life that you wish someone had told you?
I thought being a veteran prepared me for anything - especially being a military wife, but that was so far from the truth! Nothing prepares you for the changes and challenges you face as the wife of a Soldier except being the wife of a Soldier.
2. What is the most important thing you'd like to tell new spouses?
Don't take the hard times personally - they are not meant that way, even if they come across that way. They are the challenges you face while building something truly amazing!
3. What do you love the most?
The thing I love the most is being part of an elite group of strong, resilient and amazing women who face challenges on a daily basis that would make mere mortal women run and hide.
4. What do you find the hardest?
What is the hardest part? Sometimes it's realizing that you are not priority number 1 when you really want to be and knowing that it will be that way ----a lot. The job, the kids, the house, the bills, the dog even, may all come before you because he/she knows that no matter where you come in line, you will always be there and that someday, maybe after retirement, you will be number 1 again.
5. Tell me a story that sums up military life for you.
My favorite story about my Soldier - hard to pick just one - so many - some funny, some sad, some noble, some not so... but I have to say that my favorite is not about his time with me, but his time with our daughter. Watching this hard as nails, tougher than concrete Infantryman, laying on the floor in a tent fortress made of sheets, pillows and couch cushions, watching My Little Pony (or some other children's video) while dining on oreos and milk with his favorite little girl. This was their "COOM" time (camping out with oreos and milk).
Mom was not invited to attend or spend the night - I was curled up in bed with a book or sat at my computer working on my own book, while two of the most precious people in my life spent a special night together, making one of their very precious memories. In theory it is their memory, but the laughter, the giggles, the smiles on their faces at the special memory shared - that's a memory, a treasure that I will have forever.