It takes serious compassion and dedication to be a strong military partner. When deployments come around, you're often fighting your own battles on the home front as your love's fighting them abroad. Of course, yours may involve play dates, laundry piles, and carpools -- but emotionally, the turmoil feels the same.
Friday, May 6 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. It's heartwarming to know that the national government recognizes the importance of us support systems here on American soil. But really, the women who are proud to call themselves military spouses and partners should be recognized much, much more often than once a year. Trust me, I've seen it all play out first hand.
Let me explain.
I date a great guy who comes from a military background and has been on two deployments. At home, he comes from a loving family with a father who is heavily involved in the Army National Guard, an awesome stepmother, and a younger brother and sister. While he was away on his last tour, I would call his stepmother just to talk. We would get together for manicures, and she would tell me about how she handled things the last time. You know, when both her husband and son were overseas in 2006.
Hell. No. I thought to myself. At home with two young kids. Alone. I would just feel so alone. No one to help put dinner on the table or go on dates with. No one to grab the kids from school when you're tied up across town. That takes some courage, I thought. That takes some gusto.
It wasn't until I saw her in action, at home, that I really understood how she had handled it years ago. The spring morning that my boyfriend returned to Afghanistan after a two-week leave, she and I cried on the front steps. As the tears still welled in my eyes, his younger brother and sister awoke and walked stampeded down the stairs. And almost magically, there she was, back at it. Cinnamon Eggos in the toaster, clothes out of the dryer, math homework on the table.
As a mother and wife, she's an integral part to that family. The kids needed a strong role model. And her husband needed her to be OK, too. And as her other 26-year-old son went back to fight for our country, she needed to stay strong. Inside, she felt just like me. I could tell. But going on with life during the day-to-day in the meantime was her personal mission. I wanted to get her something. Flowers, maybe. Coffee, definitely. I wanted to give her the world.
It takes a unique type of woman to balance it all. An independent spirit who has the ability to put on her nice face even when her insides are screaming. And it is that woman who deserves something for her personal sacrifices, as well. OK, OK ... I'm not saying tax rebates, nights out on the town, or even free monthly manicures (although all those things would be nice, too). The words "thank you" can go a long way. I doubt women like my boyfriend's stepmom hear it enough, and I'm sure that they would love to hear it more often.
I encourage everyone to thank the women who stay at home for the service they've done for their country. For the sacrifices that they make on the regular. The women who put Eggos on the table when their minds are somewhere else. Let May 6 be the reminder for us all to continually recognize the hard work of military spouses year round.
Do you think military spouses deserve something special?
Image via The U.S. Army/Flickr