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Being a Milspouse, Raising a Milfam

I am a wife and a mother.  More specifically, I am a military spouse (a.k.a. milspouse), and  I am raising a military family (a.k.a. milfam).

As a wife, I want the best for my husband.  As a mother, I want what's best for my children.  I want to be recognized by my husband as being his partner and his friend, as well as a confidante.  I want to be supportive of his goals while he is supportive of mine.  And, I want him to succeed and grow in his potential as a husband, father, and within his career, but also succeed and grow together.  I want my children to understand how to treat others with respect and dignity.  I want them to achieve their goals and grow into the amazing adults I know they will be.

As a milspouse and head of a milfam, I also want the best for my husband and children, but also recognize that we're a part of serving something greater than ourselves.  What's best for us may not be what's best for the good of the military and this great country.  I have to be okay with that, and I have to teach my children to be okay with it, too. 

As a milspouse, I want to be recognized as my husband's partner and confidante, but also recognize that he can't tell me everything.  There will be days, weeks, months and years where I won't know all that he's doing.  I may not even know where he is.  But, I must understand that this comes at the price of protecting me, our family, our friends, our neighbors, and our country.  I must understand that, even when I do know certain details, they're not always to be shared.  I may be proud of the role my husband serves, but there are others who are not.  While they may not always be the known groups out to harm our nation, they are still there.  They may not even realize they're compromising the security of our servicemembers, but I must realize it's possible.  I must teach my children about operation security (OPSEC) and it's importance.  While they may want to talk to their friends and teachers about Daddy's job or to where he's gone, it's not always possible.

As a milspouse, I recognize that my husband can't always support my goals because they aren't included in the mission.  The mission may make it necessary for him to be gone for lengths at a time - causing strain on my goals.  The mission makes it necessary for relocations at times that are inconvenient for me whether in my school goals, career goals, or even family goals.  I must be willing to adapt and accept the inevitable: even though I'm not in the military, I am a part of it.  I support the mission even though I'm not a servicemember, and I often do it without the benefit of even knowing what it is.  My support of our family allows my husband to focus on the mission more thoroughly and effectively so that the job can get done. 

As a milspouse, I want my husband and I to grow together, but recognize we are often doing this while being physically separated.  While the world speaks of bringing all our servicemembers home, I recognize this will never happen.  Deployments and separations don't just happen during war.  They happen for training, during peace time, during natural disasters and more.  They keep our military ready and sufficient to defend our country and our country's interests.  I must teach my children that the lack of war doesn't mean Daddy stops his job and stays home with us - nor does it mean that nothing can happen to Daddy.  I must maintain family readiness at all times.

As head of a milfam, I must prepare myself and my children for loss - whether within our own personal family, our military family, or beyond.  I must allow them the opportunity to understand the threats and dangers faced in this world so that they can recognize why their dad is doing what he does.  I must be an educator of the true costs of freedom because, while it may seem cliche, my children must learn that freedom is not free - it has never been nor ever will be.

There isn't a major difference between being a wife and mother to being a milspouse raising a milfam.  Nothing makes one better than the other.  However, there's a distinct emphasis necessary to understand that a milspouse raising a milfam cannot always function the same as a wife and mother.  Their needs are different.  Their abilities are different.  Just as no two wives and mothers are the same, neither are two milspouses raising milfams. 

But, the next time you run into a milspouse raising a milfam, recognize that they require more focus, order, and determination in order to succeed.  Don't just count them out because they're only going to be in that location for a blip or because their resume is three pages long.  While they may describe themselves simply as a wife, mother or career person, they also maintain a separate skill set that sets them apart from others.  Delve more deeply into them.  You may be surprised at what you find.


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