November 21, 2010

Tough and Independent

When I became an Air Force wife, it was with the intention of being tough and independent. Any military wife needs these attributes. Pilots’ wives especially need them to deal with the frequent and often unexpected absences. I had plenty of practice during the two years we lived together before we got married. Josh would often be gone at least 20 days a month. Because he responded to the needs of the military, we never knew exactly when he would leave or when he would be back.

During that time I got used to doing things on my own. Fixing things, buying things, going places, meeting people—all by myself. I was tough and independent.

We planned carefully the timing of our first child. Josh wanted to be around (I use this term loosely to mean not deployed) during the pregnancy. Validating my birth control obsession, we got pregnant about 36 hours after he got back from deployment. This would let him experience the whole pregnancy and be around for the first few months.

Then we got orders.

Suddenly we were moving to Dover. It was a great opportunity, and we were thrilled to be moving closer to family. Dover’s squadron was also getting ready for their first deployment. They would be leaving three weeks after we arrived—one month before I was due.

Josh ended up going for the second two months and was able to be at the birth and be home for the first month. Then he left, and I went back to tough and independent.

Even at this point, I was doing ok. Since that deployment there have been plenty of trips, and I’ve coped through all of the single-parent trials. I will say I’ve had a lot of help along the way.

It took a little place I like to call Altus, America to finally make me cry, “Uncle!”

There’s something about two very small, dark rooms; a kitchen with two burners, no oven, and a bar sink; construction in the room above us; 12 hour work days; cloth diapers and a laundry room; and a cranky baby that makes you want to curl up in a ball and cry.

I have to laugh at myself because I jumped at the chance to go out to Altus with Josh. We had good friends out there with kids the same age as H. I had visions of play dates and easy work days with lots of time off in between flights. While I was daunted by the fact that we’d have to be in the dorms, I figured we could make it. I am tough and independent.

And we did have play dates. We did go places. But Josh also had very long days and grad school to do when he wasn’t working. When you only have two rooms, there aren’t really a lot of options for letting Daddy work. So, instead of having H for 12 hours, five days a week, I had her 12 hours, seven days a week. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the way things worked out. But, as I’ve come to realize, all work and no play makes Mommy cry over spilled milk.

The moral of my story today is that while we should be tough and we should be independent—all of us, not just Air Force wives—there is no reason for us to be stupid. Sometimes the best laid plans need to be changed. In this case, poorly thought through plans definitely need to be changed.

I am just thankful that I have a wonderful mother-in-law who has had to put up with the same challenges throughout her career as an Air Force wife. It’s not just anyone who will drive 8 hours, pick up mom and baby, and then drive 11 hours (with stops) the next day to deliver them from dorm Hell.

And just for good measure, she’s babysitting tomorrow while I go get a massage.

Grandma and H before we left Altus

This blog is dedicated to you, Mom C. Air Force wives stick up for each other. More importantly, we save each other from being too tough and too independent.


  1. You've got a great MIL! Isn't it great?

  2. You're a powerhouse, J. Seriously. It's not easy and I think of my mom everyday and how the heck she did it when my dad was gone for a year at a time, not to mention the "short" trips. Military wives everywhere needs to be honored. But yes, plans are plans and plans can change...we were supposed to go to NZ this fall with the boys but after looking at the sheer amount of coordination it would take, we decided to wait until they could remember the trip. Anyways, your family is lucky to have a strong, independent woman! :)

  3. I've heard people say they've been to Altus once. It always sounds like such a good idea at first...until you see the dorms you plan on living in. You're so lucky to have a fantastic MIL to rescue you.


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