Why Didn’t You Tell Me… I’d never be able to find the peanut butter? Inevitably after each new PCS — of which there have been many — I would find myself wandering the aisles of a new commissary or grocery store in what seemed like a herculean quest — locating this store’s peanut butter.
Fruits and vegetables always seem to greet me smartly at the door. Milk, meats, and breads all fall quickly into their ascribed order. Yet the peanut butter remains more mercurial in its associations.
In some duty stations, the peanut butter, sensibly, was next to jams and jellies. Others, it cast its lot in with canned goods. Once, I kid you not, I found it hiding with the pickles and relishes as though it too might make a good addition to my burgers and hot dogs.
Being of northern, independent “up by your own bootstraps” blood, I perceived asking a clerk irrationally embarrassing, like admitting you can’t seem to deduce the rules of the game everyone else is playing. So, unless woefully pressed for time, I hunt for it and other items on my list in a haphazard way myself, growing more frustrated as time goes on.
Once I had a protracted “discussion” with my spouse in the store as to whether I was stomping around (his interpretation) or just walking with purpose (mine). No doubt I’ve garnered many a dubious glance as I “purposefully walk” down aisle after aisle searching for what I need on those dreaded first trips to the new stores.
The peanut butter has become a running joke in our family as an accidental metaphor for what it means to be a military spouse. Marrying a military man meant I was signing up for a life with variables beyond my control — Will he deploy again and when? Where will our next home be? How will my career change in this new place?
The chaos and sense of powerlessness can be crippling at times, frustrating nearly always. But I’ve learned it doesn’t have to put us at odds with each other. We’re a team in this military family life, and being with him is worth the fatigue of tumult inevitable when we are in transition.
I’ve learned I can survive just about anything, but if I want to thrive I have to choose to stay on his side and direct my frustration elsewhere. After all, the chaos isn’t his fault; it’s just part of the package.
We’ve done anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays together and apart; we’ve communicated through letters, email , Skype, satellite phone, and gloriously face-to-face. He’s taught me how to ask for help when I need it; I’ve taught him how to empathize with my plight. We make each other laugh through it all– even through finding the peanut butter.
Meredith Galloway is an educator who administers an online portion of an Arizona charter school from her current home near Ft. Hood, TX. She has been married to her Active-Duty Army pilot for three years now during which time she’s called four different states home. Currently, Meredith is also pursuing her credential as an accredited financial counselor through the FIRNA military spouse fellowship. Her other passions include volunteering in the community, gardening, and coffee, lots of coffee.
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