Thursday, February 17, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the MILITARY Mom

Of all the enemies in all the world, we think Military Mommies have the brass knuckle on who's to say what's what...that sounded way cooler in my head. The point is, military moms know who the real enemies are, and girls, these are it...and Lydia and I love her for her peek into what it's like to live base-to-base, war-to-war and deployment-to-deployment. Enjoy...and thank her for what she does, so her main squeeze can go out into that big bad world and do what he does to keep us all safe...
xoxo K&L

Military Mama is 25, the mom to two adorable (if also sassy) little girls presently clocking in at 3.5 years and 13 months, and hasn't slept a decent nights sleep in three and half years (it's interesting how that coincides exactly with how long I've been a mother). I spent 5 years with a military boyfriend/husband, before we decided that the lifestyle had a high probability of making me seriously lose my schmidt in the very near future which then led to the grand adventure of me and the girls driving from up state New York to Colorado and moving back in with my parents the beginning of January. I'm looking into new life plan options, and have narrowed it down to either finding a job and an apartment or moving into a hippie commune and living off of home grown arugula and dandelions.

When you have a moment, read her blog: http://marthaheller.blogspot.com/


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Being the mommy to a soldier daddy presents a few unique challenges (not the least of which is dealing with your husband being deployed every two or three years). I picked a few of my personal favorites to tell you about.

Base Housing
Living on base is great. Your husband has a five minute commute to work, your neighbors are other military families (with their own hordes of military brats) and you’re conveniently located to the Commissary (grocery store), PX (everything else store), Class 6 (liquor store), and base childcare facility (mommy alone time...sweet!)

Except that base housing comes with base housing regulations. And they have no qualms about giving you tickets for violating them. Grass must be kept trimmed and orderly, snow must be removed promptly, and don’t even think about customizing your yard with some new flower beds. No no, you are merely RENTING a house from the military, and they have stricter regulations about the condition it can be returned in than your college dorm room did.

Did I mention that this is the same organization that also sends your husband away for a year at time? Now, I’m a pretty gung ho kind of mama, I hang my own shelves and assemble my own particle board TV stand and usually even manage to open my own pickle jars, but I don’t do lawn mowers. Ever tried to shovel snow while being 9 months pregnant? Or even rake leaves for that matter? Umm, even no-er. Not a fun time for any involved...and most especially wretched for my back. And what about the regulations saying children under the age of 10 aren’t to be left alone in the house or the car? Who, exactly, is watching them while I almost die trying to operate a snow blower so I can clear off the stupid sidewalk in sub freezing temperatures before getting another freaking ticket??

Tell you what Army, give me my husband back and I’ll be more than happy to tell him to perform a catchy song and dance number to boot while moving that “lake effect snow dusting” from your precious sidewalks. The kids and I will be watching some high quality children’s programming (OK, it’ll probably be Shrek, but we don’t need to go into my letting the two year old watch PG stuff right now) and drinking hot chocolate -- with extra marshmallows for them and a little Baileys for me -- all snuggled together in the warm indoors.

CYS Cards
Child and Youth Services is the bureaucratic power that controls everything from childcare to afterschool programs to youth sports on the military base. If you have children, you get to deal with them. *Super.* Where normal organizations would just have you scribble your name on a sign in roster, CYS has you swipe your child in and out with a bar coded pass. And as each child gets their own pass, you had better be paying attention or you’ll be trying to check the baby into football practice and the 12 year old into preschool. And what about the mornings when you forgot your passes? And your coffee, shoes, and sanity? Yeah, don’t plan on leaving your child that day, they don’t take rain checks -- even if you can tell them precisely where the passes are in your purse which is sitting on top of your dresser.Thanks, ya snitches.

But it gets even better! Did you forget to pay for preschool last week? Passes for the whole family are deactivated! Did you not remember to turn in the shot records from the baby’s 18 month well child physical? Hope you didn’t really want to leave her at the gym childcare today! And they expire annually too! So you have to re-register them! Just for fun!!

Fundraisers
Your husband’s unit will organize a whole slew of these to raise money for parties and care packages, and you have the delightful opportunity to participate in them at least once a month. You're thinking, "Hmmm, maybe not" right? Well, you’ll be so lonely and bored, you’ll do it anyways. The bake sale is a tried-and-true classic, except that on top of the normal mommy complaints of needing to bake and decorate six dozen adorable patriotic themed cupcakes in the next eight hours while the baby has decided to be permanently attached to your right nipple and the dishwasher is flooding, you also get to spend the next morning selling them!

Then, while you’re sitting around eating the merchandise waiting for customers, you’ll be scrupulously comparing your goods with the other spouses’ offerings. And if you’re being especially blessed by Maude that day, your husband will come by and talk about how much the guys liked your chocolate chip cookies, at which point you will sweetly remind him that you didn’t make chocolate chip cookies, you made rice crispy bars, and that the divine chocolate creations he’s been bragging about are actually made by his CO’s wife, who was so kind as to comment about how *easy* your rice crispy bars were.

R&R Leave
R&R is the two week trip home soldiers get from their year of tropical working vacation [Writer's Note: OK, so Iraq isn’t exactly tropical, but it’s warm and has sand...] and it is much anticipated by all involved. Including your mother-in-law, old college roommates, and that guy down the street he went fishing with once last summer. And since you now will be hosting big family gatherings and house guests, you also get to spend the week leading up to it frantically cleaning the house and remembering how to cook something beside Easy-Mac. But it’s OK, because soon Daddy will be here! And then in a blink of an eye, Daddy is leaving again. And the kids are going through their separation issues all over. Again. Oh well, at least I’m not preg-- Ah crap.


(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

26 comments:

  1. As a former Army wife, I extend kudos, offer support, and a huge, "AMEN, Sister!" Reading this I just kept nodding and thinking, "Yep!" There's nothing quite like being "voluntold" for those fun unit activities, or having to jump through endless hoops made of extra sticky red tape.
    The up side to my decade long odyssey of Army-wifehood was that I met some incredible women whom I am fortunate enough to call my friends.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us! I wish you and your family all the best, and thank you for the sacrifices you make!

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  2. I'm a military spouse (and former military) and I love this. I can think of a million more haha... ah sweet military life :/ My husband is actually TDY right now and we're at a remote location, living the life, no PX or commissary, and no English! Nearly all of my friends are deployed, just got back, are getting ready for deployment, or dealing with a deployed spouse... the others are getting ready to move to their next location. The goodbye's and welcome home's never stop. Thanks, Military Mama!!!

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  3. As former military . . . I SAY HELL YEAH this is right on!!!!! I just kept saying uh-huh, yep, ugh, that is so true!

    bravo to you! :)

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  4. Our base has a program to spouses of the deployed to help with outside maintenance. We're also pretty good about helping out with the snow and stuff.
    You know your a military mama when you are in line somewhere other than the commissary and your small child says, "Next customer in line please!"

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  5. I can identify with SO MUCH of this. I'm a Navy spouse, and my husband is presently in a "sandy vacation locale". Meanwhile, I am more than grateful for the other milspouses surrounding me, offering support, child care, and volunteering their husbands for household repairs. I love the community that we build as milspouses, which extends world-wide!! Thanks for sharing with us, Military Mama!

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  6. As an Amry wife of going on 10 years all I can say is oh even yesser! And my husband has been deployed for a year every other year and my daughter is now to the age where it is really affecting her. and I LOVE R&R (coming up so soon!) but I KNOW that it is going to kill her when he has to leave again. Oh and don't forget to mention the FRG cliques and the no sick days and the having to put in a crap load of paper work just to be able to go ANYWHERE for a 4 day weekend. Oh and having to deal with Tricare or the doctors (which you never get to see the same one) on base. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I love my Army life!

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  7. And let's not forget that when you live in on-post housing, you ALWAYS end up next door to the tramp who trots the men in while her husband is deployed. And then when he comes home from an 8-month stretch and finds her 5 months pregnant, the yelling can be heard from the end of the block, which results in the MP's getting called. Which results in the husband getting hauled off in cuffs. Welcome home soldier, and thanks again for fighting for our freedom!

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  8. I'm guessing you are from Fort Drum??? :) Yes, only those of us who have been there really know.
    My favorite was living next to a field grade officer who literally waved at me at 6:00 am as he drove past while I was still shoveling my driveway (he had conveniently snow thrown his entire driveway in the time I had shoveled not even half of mine). He was home 3 months early from the deployment that my husband was still on - good times.
    P.S. I decided that throwing my shovel at his brand new truck was not a good idea, thank goodness.

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  9. As a Marine wife/girlfriend of 11 years, I can fortunately say that I can't relate to this at all! I never thought I'd say this, but thank you USMC.

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  10. I'm a military spouse, and I think these are kind of weak. Eh, just my opinion though. The base housing one is right on. You forgot to add that you always get stuck next to some inconsiderate, loud, redneck neighbor with yap dogs. Oh wait, that's just me.

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  11. Yep! I was nodding and going too true. And then I read the comments and did the same thing!!

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  12. Oh yes!! We have been doing the Army thing for almost 19 years now, so I was laughing/crying at each of these examples! It was a tradition(????)for us to PCS while I was 7 months pregnant for awhile until we got that permanently "fixed", heehee! And don't forget about the neighbors that play their music so loud every day that your wall hangings shake and your two year old knows all the words to "Baby Got Back"! I wouldn't trade it for the world though! Great post! :)

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  13. I'm still trying to process "keep your grass cut, your leaves raked, and your driveways shoveled...but don't leave the kids alone in the house while you do this. Failure in either will result in tickets. Good luck."

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  14. As a military brat (child of someone in the military)I can remember a lot of this. I remember the cinderblock walls that wouldn't allow you to hang anything on them, trying to find a prom dress at the BX (not possible) and knowing my dad's SSN better than my own. I also remember my mom having to put up with some snide comments from the other officer's wives because she worked outside the out and didn't throw enough officers wives "teas." All that said, I loved it and wouldn't trade it for anything. I have great friends, learned to be very resilient (ok, time to move, leave all your friends and make new ones - in some new god forsaken town or country) and still feel like I'm going home whenever I'm on base. I've even almost broken the habit of standing up before watching movies (they play the anthem on base prior to watching movies)... Looking back, I never gave my mom enough credit for how hard that must have been, especially when dad had to go on a couple extended trips to "exotic" locales.

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  15. I lol-ed @ most of these, but try being the single mom who is the military member. Talk about domestic enemies. There are days where I would kill for the feeling knowing a man will be home soon to help. Mine was killed doing what we both love. Serving and fighting for our country.

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  16. If anyone asked me to mow or shovel while I was super pregnant I would have squared up so fast! Thanks for sharing and for everything your family has sacrificed for mine.

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  17. So true, so true. And you know what I actually miss living on base. My husband is calling for a psych eval as I'm typing this. Little does he know that he'll never get an appointment this century on base.

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  18. This was funny! I also am a Marine Wife of 14 years and I wouldn't trade it for anything! :o) Cheers to all those that serve and those that are holding down the fort at home!

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  19. Yup! So I am totally with you on the base housing thing right. My husband and I were stationed on ELmendorf Air Force base...in Anchorage Alaska...yeah that whole snow blow thing...we had tons of tickets lol. My daughter was born in Anchorage Ak...in December..there was a small blizzard that night...and we had officially moved off base. The gate gaurds thought we were completely insane when we rolled in at 11...and then left...and came back at 2...and I was trying not to scream...and explain why I forgot my id at the apartement (HELLO IN LABOR HERE!!!) Oh yes...the things we do for the brave men we love.

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  20. I read the Huff Post blog. Very cute, reminds me of Calvin & Hobbes. Note - also not a great idea to let your 2nd grader read all of your old Calvin & Hobbes books...mine seems to have put an even finer point on sarcasm plus have learned some other ideas as well. I also love how the first few links under the article were for "Free Parenting Help". Who do they think your audience is??? Thanks for the laughs

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  21. Great article! As an army wife to my *extremely* good lookin soldier(gotta love those uniforms!) I agree with alot of things that were said. I get frustrated with our military from time to time but at the end of the day we're all fighting for the same thing!

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  22. How did the commissary not make the list? Its full of retirees who stop mid aisle and walk back to get something leaving their cart where you need to get something. Oh also, don't plan on going past 7 pm, when your husband could be home to watch the kids, because its closed. Forget about Monday's too, you know after everyone has been home eating the contents of fridge all weekend, because the commissary can't be open on a Monday.

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  23. Hahaha! Hello my fellow Fort Drum wife! I loved reading these.

    Yeah, about that shoveling while pregnant. That's been this girl, right here, all damn winter. Snow is not a new thing for me. I grew up in MA, but at least there it stops from time to time (and sometimes, even melts). Once it hit March, I informed sandy vacation Ken that I was done with shoveling. I don't care if it snows another 18 feet this week. I am done, and housing can bite me.

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  24. My experience is slightly different, in Germany. Somehow I managed to go under the radar this time around and avoided being "voluntold." BUT, I realized from this last deployment that being out there volunteering (willingly or not) reaps the benefits of good karma. It was tough going through 10 months alone but it made me stronger as a person. On post housing here is nice, flower vouchers are available (limited quantity but I got mine). All in all, the good outweighs the bad. Until we settle down as civilians, I see the glass as half full...and looking forward to our next adventure :)

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  25. This absolutely correct!! Yeah, my son used to say "Next Please!" at the commissary (probably because I worked there while pregnant with him). And base housing was such a joke, I have hours of horror stories from them. And at our last base, my husband had four month deployments (I know, not *that* long) but they would send him home every 2 weeks for 3 days. So I had to say "Goodbye, be safe" a million times in four months. And yes, I managed to get pregnant between two back to back deployments. But like all the other ladies said, I wouldn't change it for the world. Oh, and PS, I'm from upstate NY so I get the snow. :)

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  26. I would love to see the post "Domestic enemies of the Military Mom", AS the military Mom. Certainly not downgrading the military spouse, I have A LOT of close friends that fit that bill. I know a lot of our problems are similair, but holy heck trying to work out daycare and cooking and cleaning and military duties and pt all by yourself because your equally military husband is deployed... Now there's some enemies in the making right there...

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