Well, the institution of military wives is a lot like high school. The only real difference is, we aren’t categorized by our own characteristics or attributes, we classify ourselves by our husbands.
High school. Socially, it is a place of seclusion and exclusion.
High school kids are notorious for developing cliques. You have jocks and cheerleaders, band geeks and trouble-makers, artsy folks, nerds (do they still call them that?), etc. The only ‘normal’ clique in high school was whichever one you seemed to belong to…why is it we couldn’t see our own clique?
Well, the institution of military wives is a lot like high school. The only real difference is, we aren’t categorized by our own characteristics or attributes, we classify ourselves by our husbands. Officer wives, Junior enlisted wives, Seal wives, Chiefs wives, Intel Wives; the list could go on and on.
In our little grown-up high school, officer wives would be our ‘cheerleaders’. My very dear friend is an OW. We tease her relentlessly about it. For instance, her kids have never eaten canned spaghetti. Truthfully, Laura is such an amazing cook that she doesn’t have to open a can for dinner, but we accuse her of not giving it to them because they are “officer’s kids.”
Junior enlisted wives–still new to all of this–probably have it the hardest. They haven’t yet been worn into submission. Grouping these ladies generally leads to a pretty large ‘pity party’. The rest of us have all been there and held our own parties; just after a few years (or beers) we quit complaining out loud.
However, unlike high school, most of us all seem to come together at some point. The friends I have made through the military are unlike any others. They have become family. And what’s better than a family you get to choose?
When we were overseas, Jenn lived across the street.
We had walkie-talkies so that we could talk to each other all day. The day they moved she took a part of me with her.
Jenn and I also pulled Shannon under our wings, even though she was an Air Force wife (oh, for shame!). When Shannon got pregnant and her husband deployed, she became family. We all ate dinner together every night, so she didn’t have to eat alone. We took her to OB appointments, teased her when she waddled like a duck and drove 35 minutes to the nearest Dinky Doughnuts when she had a craving.
Here in Virginia, it is my wonderful neighbors (who also happen to be military wives) that have joined our family. A Chief’s wife, a First Class Petty Officer’s wife, a Master Chief’s wife, two Senior Chiefs’ wives, a couple of officers’ wives and a sprinkling of civilians. They fill the void of missing aunts and grandmas. Their children are cousins. We spend holidays together, remember birthdays, celebrate accomplishments and never need a reason to get together.
In this family nothing else matters. We know our husbands’ jobs and ranks only because we have celebrated these accomplishments with them. In this family we aren’t judged or intimidated or belittled. Some of us work, others don’t. We keep track of who’s alone, who needs a good dinner or the lawn mowed, who needs a break from the kids or hasn’t heard from their loved one in a while.
We cook, mow, tutor, pray.
In the eyes of all the ‘clubs’ and ‘organizations’ the military creates for us, yes, we are still a part of the clique our husbands have inadvertently fated us to. But in the group we have created for ourselves, we aren’t just wives, we’re family. When a fellow military wife whisks your kids away for a little Coldstone the day your husband returns from a six-month tour, just so you and hubby can have a couple hours of alone time…she becomes more than just a friend. And when she drives 13 hours to surprise you at your college graduation…she becomes like a sister. I know it’s a concept that most civilians can’t understand, and I know for certain that my family doesn’t really understand, but
But it is this family that makes military life so amazing. No matter where we go or how long we’re there, the new family forms around us and brings us in. I know that I am never alone, I always have family near.