Endless moving, constant change, long deployments, never feeling 100% secure in a career because of the PCSing. It’s a lot of stress. Being a military spouse is certainly no cakewalk, even under the absolute best of circumstances.
I wouldn’t dream of living another life. Ever.
I might not like every part of this military spouse life, but I do love it. It’s given me freedom and support in equal measures, with lots of joy mixed in, too.
Why I’m Grateful To Be A Military Spouse
This life may not be easy, but I’m incredibly thankful to be on this journey!
1. I’m surrounded by experts in all things, all the time
My daughter was very, very ill recently. The doctor’s office was closed and I wasn’t sure what to do. I called the nurse advice line but didn’t feel 100% confident in their suggestions. They couldn’t actually see my poor girl or really get the full picture over the phone.
Instead, I phoned a friend. She’s a nurse and lives just one street over. In minutes, she was in my house with advice I trusted because I trust her. The next day, she called again to see how things had played out and to walk me through what the next steps might look like.
She’s not the only professional I know either. Just in my neighborhood, I’ve got a hairdresser, makeup artist, accountant, pharmacist, personal trainer, vinyl artist, and EMT. Those are just the folks I know!
No matter what problem I have, there is a military spouse friend I can call.
Help with my blog or business? It’s handled.
Medical advice? Done.
Buying, selling, renting or managing real estate? Didn’t even break a sweat.
Any direct sales company from books to makeup to unmentionables? You betcha!
2. I’ve lived farther from “home” than I ever thought possible
I grew up in a small New England town where most people stayed, at least, in the county. My life from college graduation on was mapped out: find a teaching job sort of close by, stay there for 20-30 years, retire and then travel.
The farthest my feet had taken me was up to Montreal and Quebec City for a college student exchange program.
Right now, I’m typing this post from my couch in Japan.
I’ve gone from the person who was content to maybe cross a state line to grab a great job to a literal world traveler. We’ve lived in California, DC, and now Japan.
I never thought I would get to visit anywhere beyond the US or maybe western Europe. Now, I can say that I’ve lived in Japan!
3. My kids have bathed elephants in Thailand
They’ve eaten pho in Vietnam, worn hanbocks in Seoul, tried sushi in Tokyo, and walked paths through thousands of years of history.
We have seen the world, thanks to this military life we lead.
Without the gift of our overseas duty station, traveling throughout Asia would have been a pie-in-the-sky dream. We would have stuck with the wonders of America, and been very thankful for the experiences.
But now, I have the image of my daughter’s surprised face the first time she touched the rough wrinkled skin of an elephant. My son’s laughter at the shisa dog dancers rings in my ears. I can still taste the Cao lau, made from scratch with water from an ancient well, in Hoi An.
4. I can try new things often
Traveling brings new adventures no matter what, or where, we explore. But I’m talking about personal and professional new things.
Remember, I thought I would be a teacher for a few decades? Instead, I’m dipping my toes into freelance writing and running my own virtual business. I’ve been able to serve families around the world as a tutor and homeschooling coach. I wrote a book, something I never thought I would do in a million years.
Yes, I’ve been a teacher and worked in schools, too. So that dream is still very much alive!
And our next move has even more potential for reinvention. I can choose to return to the classroom, dive into non-profit work that I’m passionate about, or continue to build my personal brand.
Without the constant moving and changing, my “brand” would still be what it was on college graduation day: elementary and special education teacher.
Instead, I’ve been able to explore different interests and areas with a little bit of a safety net. I’m still not 100% sure where I’ll land next, but I know it will be something exciting and amazing.
5. I get to be Cinderella at least one night a year
Growing up, my best friend and I would go to JC Penny and try on the prom dresses. We weren’t shopping for anything. It was just for fun. Putting on a fancy dress, sweeping your hair up into a formal updo, and wearing more makeup than normal is exciting!
I love that one night every year I get to play Cinderella with my own handsome knight in shining armor on my arm.
So, I might moan and groan about finding a sitter or trying to get dressed with a toddler underfoot. But deep down, I live for this. The ball is my Super Bowl.
I love to see everyone in fancy clothes, on their best behavior before dinner and then breaking it down on the dance floor after dessert.
Watching the motivational videos, especially the Birthday Message, makes me tear up every year. If there’s a remotely poignant guest speaker, I’ll be trying to hold back the waterworks!