“Some Heroes Wear Capes, Mine Wears Combat Boots”
My husband is an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army, which leads many to ask me the infamous question “What is it like being a military wife?” Honestly, there’s no easy answer to that question. My little boys wore two shirts the last time my husband was deployed that gives a little insight. They stated: “Some Heroes Wear Capes, Mine Wears Combat Boots”, and “While Daddy is off fighting terrorists, I’m terrorizing Mommy!” This life obviously has its ups and downs. We get the comfort of having a loving husband and father who supports us, someone we look up to and admire as a stalwart and brave example that goes out every day not only to provide for us but to defend our rights and liberties and keep us safe – our hero. But then we also get the fear, anxiety, and struggles that come from long periods of separation, not knowing where our soldier is or when he’s coming home, the constant changes from uprooting and moving, and trying to cope with a life that is always uncertain.
My husband has been away from me and our three sons many times, the longest being the 12-month deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Every time he goes away it is a struggle, but I have learned that I have to be the strong one in order to help my children make it through. They are too young right now to understand why Daddy is gone again or even when he is coming home, so dealing with angry outbursts, inconsolable sadness, regression in learning, refusal to start talking or potty train, and constant confusion is a part of our normal life. And it’s hard on my husband too, because he has missed out on what any father deserves to experience – the birth of one of our sons, all three of our boys starting to walk, birthdays and anniversaries, first child starting school, holiday events and family reunions, and the list goes on and on. I have learned that the best way to make it through a tough separation is to stay as closely connected as possible and focus on the positive. Communication isn’t always the best in a war zone, but my husband would make every effort to call and Skype with our family as often as possible. That’s how he enjoyed seeing his baby blow out his first birthday candle. It’s always best when children can actually see their Daddy’s face and have real interaction with him. Every night for a year when he was in Afghanistan, I would write a simple email telling Daddy all of the things that happened to us that day. Though seemingly insignificant most things were, it meant a lot to my husband to help him feel like part of our lives. We also kept a “Daddy wall” with pictures of him and our sons, a countdown calendar that we put stickers on every day, and a clock to know Daddy’s time.
But I feel like the best way for me to not get overwhelmed during these hard times is to go to bed every night and think about at least one good or positive thing that happened that day. If there is something I can be grateful for, it makes it easier to get up the next day and not be so sad or depressed. It helps to rely on my faith in God, and realize that Someone is looking out for me, cares about me, and is helping me when I don’t feel like I can do it on my own. I also make it a point to plan get-togethers with friends, family visits, or enjoyable outings with the kids just so I can have something to look forward to and help the time pass more quickly. I have decided that I can choose to be lonely, or I can just be physically separated for a time and look forward to all the exciting and delightful things that await after the difficult times are over. And I think that’s the most important part. Whenever Daddy is home, we spend lots of quality time together, go on entertaining family outings, and make lasting memories to make sure the children know we will always be a family, despite the challenges and discouraging times life throws at us.
A military family makes lots of sacrifices, but I also think we take less for granted. Every time the American flag is raised, our national anthem is played, a plane of veterans returns home, we see a man or woman in uniform, or learn of the ultimate sacrifice paid by a fallen comrade, our hearts swell with a little deeper respect and appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes to make our country the greatest nation on earth. It means the world to me when someone takes the time to come up and say “Thank you for your service”. Our heroes all deserve a greater appreciation for preserving the independence we all too often take for granted. Let us remember, be grateful, and make every sacrifice paid worth it.
Story written by: Katrina
Black and White Photo Credit by Maggie Cochran Photography: http://maggiecochranphotography.com
This story was seen first on Real Imprints.