Monday, May 16, 2011

Military Life...From a Spouse's Perspective: Colleen Bay

The Military Brat Team and the Homefront Team are combining efforts to share our experiences with the military lifestyle so that others can fully understand the sense of community, sacrifices, benefits, and expectations we all share as members of a truly unique group of people. Each month we will feature a story shared by a Military Brat Team member, and a story shared by a Homefront Team member.

  This Feature is written by Colleen Bay, shop owner of Her Hero

Military Life….
From a spouse's perspective

      In the last 6 years, I have lived in 4 different states and 6 different homes. I stutter when asked for my social security number, but I can rattle the last four digits of my husband’s without hesitation.  I am an acronym diva, flat rate shipping superstar, and my resume looks like a patchwork quilt.  I am a proud military spouse and My Military Life is an adventure.
5 things I have learned to be true in military life and how I thrive: 

  1. We move all the time. We are never in one place long enough to get tired of it. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel; the next PCS. I make new friends each time. Our kids are exposed to different weather, culture, and traditions first hand.  Honestly, I get the PCS itch after being in one place for more than 18 months. 
  2. His job is dangerous. “Look! EOD is listed as the #1 most dangerous jobs again on Discovery channel!”  It is emotionally draining at times; the constant worry, the many good-byes, and the disruptive but glorious homecomings. It is a nice feeling, however, that others are in awe of what my husband does for a living. I am very proud of what he does, not what he brings home. My husband is a real hero.
  3. My home will never be featured in Towne and Country.  I do not spend a lot of time constructing the perfect looking home. Forget flowers that match the matting on a picture in the parlor. What looks great in today’s dining room won’t fit in the next one. We buy items based on the “will-this-make-the-next-move” mentality. Our garage is filled with “military issued” junk, but we certainly don’t have hoard piles anywhere (I do a “PCS” purge with every move). Our home-sweet-home is each other, our little family unit; the dinners at the table, the weekend adventures in our new land, the family pictures from our military life adventures surrounding us.
  4. Separations are lousy:  Deployments are the worse. Anyone who has made it successfully through one, however, will tell you that your relationship will be stronger because of it. Separation makes the heart grow dearer. Being separated so often has forced us to really look hard at how we communicate with each other: calls are cut short and emails can be misconstrued so many bad ways. Should I complain about how the last 10 emails from him have been less than just one of my loving emails, or how the shortage of hand written letters has been duly noted…no- instead,  I will talk about the new things the kids are doing. I also learned how important it is to always tell each other you love them. (And yelling it through the receiver after a short disagreement before slamming the phone down counts-)  There are additional separation perks that should get recognition here: a clean house, all the girly tv you can stand, and my all time favorite- cereal for dinner.
  5. Free healthcare rocks. Healthcare was expensive when I was in shape, single, and waiting tables. Now I have had 2 babies (free), that have grown into adventurous kids (one broken arm, pink eye at least 5 times, snotty noses every winter, and multiple ear aches)- also free. Additionally, I got a fancy IUD at no cost; the same brand of IUD that was going to cost my sister-in-law $600 (she never got it because of the cost and recently had a baby #3 scare).
The key to surviving military life is knowing “it is what you make of it” and that finding friendships with other military spouses will get you through some difficult times (try explaining to a non-military friend how DFAS screwed up your BAH and you can’t access his LES because he is TDY again…meanwhile DEERS is saying that your daughter’s name is “Baby Girl Bay” and so TRICARE will not pay for “McKenna Bay’s” ear tubes).
Military life is an undertaking. Not only do I try to make the most of our lifestyle by keeping a rosy outlook, but I have found other military spouses to be a source of great strength. I am honored to be amongst the other courageous, influential military spouses that have stood by their heroes in the past. I am thankful for the strong network of today’s military spouses, lending advice and a hand when needed.
My Military Life is an adventure because that is what I make it. And in that adventure, I have met mentors, made lifelong friends, and have learned that life and love are the most valuable things to me. All this in just 6 years…

Thank you Colleen for sharing your story! If you are interested in submitting an article, please contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog. 

 Robin Norgren, Blog Coordinator

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love Collen's jewelry AND this post!