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Dear Military Spouse: Let Someone Appreciate You!

I’ve met two or three military spouses in my time who could not be appreciated enough.

I had the feeling I could drape them in ermine capes, put diamond tiaras on their heads and roll up a red, white and blue Corvette convertible to take them home and they would sniff, “Is this all?”

This note is not for them.

This note is for you.

This note is for all of us who would do just about anything for our service member, but feel a little wary of a day like May 9th set aside by the President as Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

To us, the stuff other people want to honor seems like normal life.

Just this once, let someone appreciate your everyday awesomeness, would you?

We appreciate your ability to hope. This year a spouse reminded me that when it comes to military life, hope is not about everything turning out OK. It is about being OK no matter how things turn out.

No matter what you are struggling with (and you’ve shown us that everyone has something) we see you holding onto the kind of optimism that allows you to keep trying. That not only makes all the difference in the world for your family, and keeps us moving forward, too.

We appreciate your vision of your family. I bet you carry this magical vision of your own family in your head.

You see the way you used to be when you were young and in love and thought you could handle anything the military demanded. You see the way you are now juggling more than a dozen years of war.

Yet you still dare to envision a future for your family where everything turns out OK. Where the kids all go to college. Where the right job opens up for you. Where your service member leaves the military and finds new work that satisfies. You are the transition plan the whole country is counting upon.

We appreciate your help blindness. No one will offer help quicker than a military wife. If we see someone struggling with a stroller or a couple of screaming toddlers or a three-day flu, we are the first to offer help.

Somehow, when we are the ones with the three-day flu, we become help blind. We cannot possibly think of anyone we could ask for help. While we appreciate this trait so many of us share, we really gotta realize that the help highway goes in both directions.

We appreciate your social courage. When you are a military spouse, you are always the new kid. It is part of the territory.

But you know from experience that everyone is a stranger only once. We so appreciate your ability to boldly go up to a stranger, introduce yourself and start talking. And if you are the kind of military spouse who doesn’t approach strangers, we really appreciate if you smile when we talk to you first. Woo boy.

We appreciate your lists. “I don’t know how you do what you do!” might be the most annoying phrase spouses hear in the course of a day. It seems to imply that somehow we were stupid to take on a military marriage.

But we really appreciate the way you do what you have to do. It’s too much for any one person to do. Yet you do the ‘too much.’

You deal with what is on your plate. You use your constant lists to keep track of what has to be fixed and what has to be done and what has to be turned in and what has to be paid for. You control the uncontrollable. Prodigious.

We appreciate your idea of sexy. Hate to tell you this, but not everyone thinks of combat boots as sexy. They don’t look at a guy in cammies or khakis and think, va-va-va-voom. Strangely, you do. And you keep thinking that no matter how long you are married. Marines, Army, Navy, Air Forces, Coast Guard—the uniform doesn’t matter. The person inside does.

We appreciate when you show up in person. So often on SpouseBuzz we hear from writers who participate in conferences and balls and holiday parties and command picnics because it is “expected.”

You know the command can’t demand you show up (cuz you don’t work for them.) But you let yourself have the wisdom of understanding that often the presence of a real person makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for that.

And if you got the job because you showed up at the event, good on ya. You deserve it.

We appreciate your ability to create normal. Even if your life is decidedly NOT NORMAL, military spouses have a way of creating normalcy no matter how they are living.

No matter where they live or how crazy their service members schedule might be, they create rituals around mealtime and bedtime and holidays that make kids feel safe. They set up their household goods and make homes of the plainest places in the world. They become someone worth coming home to.

We appreciate your indignation. When it comes to your own benefits, spouses like you can be a little complacent. Put it on the list and you will deal with it later.

But don’t let anyone give your service member less than what they earned with their own blood, sweat and tears shed for this country.

Insult a service member and expect to deal with the kind of political outrage from spouses that fueled #keepyourpromise this year.

Most of all, we appreciate your uniqueness. As you continually remind us, there is no such thing as a “typical” spouse. This is a community in which not fitting in IS, in fact, fitting in.

Spouses come in an infinite variety. We usually have only one thing in common—that we love someone in uniform and that we would sacrifice what we want in order to make sure they have what they need.

It’s a life. It’s our life. And we appreciate that we get to share it with you.

 

 

 

 

 

About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.