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There is a certain romanticism about being in the military, or a military spouse. You will move to incredible places, see the world, have a steady job and great health care. But if we are being honest, this lifestyle is anything but easy. I currently live 4000 miles from my family and friends. I've missed holidays, birthdays and major life events for countless family and friends. My husband has been away while I've experienced heart breaking loss and major medical appointments. I also wouldn't change or trade it for anything.
In my short three years as a military spouse, I have found that unless this is a lifestyle they have lived, it is very hard for people to understand. People tend to ask a ton of questions that we often don't have answers to.
Q: Where are you going next?
A: I don't know, I have a general idea of when, but that can change, and where is always a mystery, we can know where we want to go, but where we end up may be completely different. We will get anywhere from 6 months to 6 weeks notice of when and where we are going.
Q: When are you coming "home" next?
A: Soon? We always do our best to come visit friends and family, but its important to come visit us too! Visits home can often feel stressful. I often feel like I am always disappointing someone when we go home, it often doesn't end up the vacation that people seem to think it is. Please realize that we want to see you, but its also important for us to get to go on a true vacation with no expectations from family and friends, which may mean we are taking a vacation somewhere other than where our friends and family are.
Q: Where is your husband, and when is he coming home?
A: I may or may not be able to tell you where he is. I have a general idea of when he is coming home, but that date is always a bit fluid. Asking about it is nice, but sometimes can hurt. It gets lonely not having him with me, and the questions are a reminder of that.
A week and a half ago Tom and I had a huge curveball thrown our way. Tom's orders have us living in Alaska for 4 years and leaving in October of 2022. He is applying for a specific position and assignment when we leave here that we are very excited about. We got a phone call offering Tom the position *YAY*! But it would start in November of 2021. We would have about 6 weeks to pack up our lives and move 2 humans, 2 dogs and a horse across the country. Six weeks to say goodbye to the friends and "family" we have made while living here in Alaska. We were given just 4 days to decide if we wanted to take the position he was offered, but not at all on the timeline we anticipated, or turn it down and risk that he does not get the position he wants when we leave here. Decisions like this are HARD, but we were very fortunate to have a choice, since many don't have that chance.
I was once asked if I would ask my husband to leave his career in the Air Force, the thought behind it being that it would be easier and better for my anxiety. Would not being faced with tight timelines and hard questions be nice, absolutely. Would being closer to family be amazing, 100% yes. But would making someone give up a job they LOVE that has provided wonderful opportunities for us give me more anxiety, definitely. Being a military spouse is not easy, but I am fortunate to have made some incredible friends along this journey. Friends who have supported our path, been a sounding board when we are unsure, and have been our family when we are so far from home. And that is something I would not trade for anything else in the world.
PS. We are staying in Alaska... for now