Today we have a guest post from Kate Griffin a local mama and creator of Eating in the Shower, a military family lifestyle blog. She’s sharing her thoughts on what it means to be a Military Spouse.
May is National Military Appreciation month and May 10th is Military Spouse Appreciation Day so many thanks to SaratogaMama for acknowledging the many military families in our area and letting me share with all of you.
This Life is More Than Ordinary
Maybe it’s a simple description and maybe it’s a line from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song but more than ordinary is exactly how life as a military family feels to me.
My husband is about to reach the twenty year mark in the Marine Corps this July. We have traveled, packed, moved, unpacked, and met only to leave new friends more times than most people will in their lifetime. I have struggled throughout my husband’s career to embrace the label “military spouse.” At times I questioned why it was necessary to describe myself based on what my husband does for a living. I still struggle with this, but I remind myself that I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t married this Marine.
Even though I’ve had jobs I really loved and had to leave more times than I would’ve liked to, I learned that having the chance to change jobs and lives over and over again is a lifestyle that works for me. I’ve never felt stuck in a rut or stagnant in a career.
Being a military spouse has given me so many opportunities to see the world. Anyone who wonders how I can manage constantly moving for my husband’s job with little say where we’re headed need only look through our travel albums to find their answer. We love our hometown of Saratoga, but thanks to military life we’ve watched camels wandering on an island beach in Yemen, sped around in a tuk-tuk in Bangkok, snorkeled in the Red Sea, and spent winter skiing and summer hiking the Swiss alps.
I could easily paint a different picture of military life and describe the many tearful goodbyes, the constant worry, and the sacrifices but every life contains some form of that. I’d rather focus on what makes being a military spouse more than ordinary. I can’t complain about the sacrifices I’ve had to make as a military spouse because our lives have only been made better by our experiences.
For every birthday or anniversary that we’ve spent apart, there are many more memories of adventures, dinners in exotic places, and now happy moments watching our baby as he shows us more each day how he’s no longer a baby.
Here are my favorite ways being a military spouse is more than ordinary:
- Pride. I know this isn’t unique to people in the military but everyone lucky enough to find themselves overwhelmed with pride seeing their spouse in uniform knowing what they’ve faced or what they have accomplished knows just what I mean. I watched, trying to hold a camera and myself steady, while my husband received an award for his actions in combat, wondering the whole time if I could have done what he did. Knowing he can fills me with a kind of pride I haven’t felt in other situations.
- We take nothing for granted. As a military spouse there is a tendency to appreciate even the smallest things because they are going to change before we know it. Awareness of how temporary things really are can elude some people their entire life. This is never the case for a military spouse and I can’t think of a better quality to possess.
- The support available to military families. For families stationed in this area, the Naval Support Activity in Saratoga Springs may be smaller than what they’re used to but that only serves to make it one of the best I’ve known in terms of services for military families. Before I had my son I was fortunate enough to manage the Child and Youth Program within the Fleet and Family Support Center at NSA Saratoga Springs and know firsthand the value placed on helping families by everyone who works there. Families in Saratoga have staff dedicated to them to the point that they go out of their way to make time spent stationed in Saratoga second to none.
Whether it is helping spouses find employment and childcare or visiting new parents in their homes to help them adjust to their role as a new parent, when someone is in need, the support services offered at NSA Saratoga Springs are invaluable.
Being stationed here and able to come home to the area we both grew up while my husband is still on active duty was unexpected and I’m grateful that my first child was baptized at the same church I made my First Communion and that I’ve had playdates with friends I’ve known my whole life. Being a military spouse has meant learning how to make each place we live the best place and I’m so glad to be able to call Saratoga one of those places. It will always be the best of the best to me not only because our family and friends are here, that we grew up here, or that our baby was born here, but also for the many reasons that this is just an amazing place to live.
My son has gone from being held on my lap at Library Babies to picking his own books and playing with trains in the Treehouse Room at the library and from being in the ‘Crawlers Only’ pen to climbing the stairs into the tree clubhouse at the Children’s Museum. We put many miles on the stroller and sat on blankets in the parks before he started to run. We took advantage of one of the best military discounts I know of and made many trips to the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid where they have been offering their ‘Military Special Thank You’ rate for active duty military since 2009.
All over this area military spouses move into new neighborhoods, start new jobs, their children start new schools, and they try to carve out lives with new playgrounds, shopping, doctors’ offices, and above all new friends. They do this knowing that it will need to be done again in a few years. It never gets easier to leave friends and it can become harder to make strong new friendships with the knowledge they are short term. I might just be the mom you saw at the library, museum, playground, and pool all in the same week but never knew by name because I wasn’t ready to make and leave yet another friend.
People not affiliated with the military often comment to me, “I don’t know how you do it,” or “I couldn’t do it.” I usually just shrug those words off, but sometimes I think maybe they’re right, maybe they couldn’t. For everyone else out there who does it, thank you.
Military families all have a unique story and I can only tell mine but if you ask me about our life, I’ll let the same Red Hot Chili Peppers song I started with answer for me, “Can I get two, maybe even three of these?”
Kate Griffin is the creator of Eating in the Shower, a military family lifestyle blog. Kate was born and raised in Saratoga and graduated from Cornell in 2002 before leaving New York and living in California, Yemen, Switzerland, and North Carolina. Being married to a Marine has meant traveling all over the world but these days she can be found playing in Congress Park with her two year old son or at home in Wilton, writing and working on an endless list of DIY projects.