By Jenna Stone
Editor’s note: In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day today and Mother’s Day on Sunday, we’re sharing a post from a friend of an Air Force Social Media Team member. The writer is the wife of an Air Force Reserve Airman at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.
My dad proposed to my mom outside of the barracks on Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, following his graduation from Basic Military Training. It was a simple proposal, but to my mom it was a fairytale. Eight months later, Mark and Rose Mary were married in a small Catholic ceremony. My dad, in his stark and stunning dress blues, swept my mom off her feet. Her life would now be vastly different. She was now an Air Force wife.
My mother knew nothing about the military lifestyle when she married my dad. She had lived most of her life up until then in the same house. Her family was well-known in their small, rural community. All of her friends and family were just minutes away, but after her first move to Big Spring, Texas, it seemed like they were lifetimes away.
Having your first baby is a huge life moment. Many people would not be able to imagine what it would be like to give birth to your first born while your husband is out of town. For many military wives, this is reality. My dad didn’t meet his first child until he was 1-month-old. Luckily, he was present for the birth of his second son, but only because he was on leave for two weeks from his one-year remote tour in Alaska. When my brother was only one-week-old, my dad had to say goodbye to his wife and two young sons once again. He would return after six more months in the frigid cold of Fairbanks, Alaska. During these times when my dad was away, my parents did their best to communicate. They wrote letters and sent a few pictures. They were even able to talk on the phone but not often and not for too long. It was the late 1970s, and long-distance phone calls were expensive.
Like most military wives, my mom is an excellent packer. Every few years she packed up her little family and everything they owned, and she followed my dad wherever he was sent. She didn’t like some of the places they lived. New Hampshire was too cold, and Big Spring was too far west. But the most difficult move was to England. I was born just a few months before the big overseas move. Living in a completely different country with two toddlers and a brand new baby can be overwhelming. My mother has said that the worst part was that she couldn’t see her family back in the states for three long years. Flying a family of five over the Atlantic Ocean was very expensive, so we stayed in England for the duration of the assignment. My parents wrote letters and sent home videos so my grandparents could watch us grow.
Even through constant moving and being away from her spouse was difficult, my mother embraced the military lifestyle. Our family lived on base everywhere we were stationed. My mom worked really hard to make our little duplex a loving home. She registered us for all kinds of activities on base. We went to the bowling alley every Saturday morning and the commissary every other week. We did summer camp at the youth center every year. My brothers and I had our own pool passes, and we were even allowed to ride our bikes to the pool after we got our IDs. Growing up on base was perfect.
Now that I am a military wife, I have so much more respect for my mom. She endured months of raising three young kids without her husband. She spent years away from her family without Skype or Face Time to communicate. She lived in all kinds of different places and had to leave old friends and learn to make new ones. And I never once heard her complain about it.
There is a special place in Heaven for military spouses. These people must move away from friends and family every few years, and sometimes adapt to new cultures. If they work outside of the home, they are forced to find a new job every three years. Many holidays and birthdays are spent alone while waiting for their spouse to return from TDY or deployment. Sometimes they can’t even watch the news out of fear of hearing about the troops in danger. Military spouses are strong, adaptable and above all, devoted to their family.
PHOTO: Families line the runway to welcome home members of the 389th Fighter Squadron and Aircraft Maintenance Unit. The unit returned to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Sept. 21, 2011, after a deployment to Afghanistan.