I am a woman in her mid-twenties, semi-awkwardly caught between the extraordinarily different military and civilian life.
I married at 24. I am among the first of my civilian friends to be married, and among the last of my military friends. When I visited my now husband a year ago at his pilot training base, our tight-knit military community was counting down the days until I was engaged. When I came home to my apartment in Denver, my non-military friends panicked at the idea of being married. To this day, majority of my civilian friends are single with marriage not in the near forecast. In the military, only three of my close friends are waiting patiently for the ring from their long-term significant other, the rest have been married.
This, of course, is because the military makes it nearly impossible to physically be with your significant other unless you tie the knot, ESPECIALLY for overseas assignments.
The Military: What’s that? You’re a girlfriend and you want to come to Japan with your boyfriend? Good luck finding a job, healthcare, and paying for yourself to get there, and oh, also, we won’t let you live on base.
Girlfriend: Ok well I guess we’ll just do long distance then…
Earth: Lol did I mentioned the 14 hour time difference?
Alas, many long-term couples (including my parents, who, by the way, have a beautiful marriage) marry because they would rather be together than long distance. Luckily, for Ryan and I, about the time when the Air Force started pushing whether or not we were going to get married, we had been ready and were already planning on it.
As he was in survival training this past week, I came home to see my friends and family. Last Saturday night, I went out on the town with all my old college friends. Among those were men my age, performing the exact same debauchery they did in college except with a little more money. One guy stumbles over to me and proceeds to flirt. I tell him I’m married, and he exclaims, “You’re MARRIED?! How OLD are you?”
Thus, was the first time I realized how in the minority I was in the civilian world, especially in a big city like Denver.
On the contrary, flash back to just a few days earlier when I am visiting my fellow Air Force wives. One of my sweet friends posed me with the question, “So, do you think you’ll make it through your first overseas assignment without having children?”
Ah, yes. The ultimate military spouse topic of conversation: children. On one hand, civilian friends wonder how on Earth was I ready to marry at 24, and on the other, friends and acquaintance’s in the military are wondering if children are in the near future. What a silly catch 22!
Like my civilian friends on the topic of marriage, Husbabe and I are no where near even considering children. Yes, we eventually want them, but not for a very long time. Admittedly, a child comes near Ryan or I and we’re like, “what…am I supposed to do with this?”
I recently discovered I was one of maybe two spouses that do not have children at our new base, of a total of about 27 women. This was the same at our old base, until we had some girlfriends come along later. Because of how busy and time-consuming a mom’s job is, I often spent most of my time with Ryan and all of the single pilots.
While I had a BLAST, I was still a wife, not a pilot, who listened to the mechanics of an F-15, penis measuring hypotheticals, BFM (basic fighting maneuver) tactics, and watched YouTube videos of the Miami Dolphin’s cheerleaders for hours on end (looking at you, Mark). The point is, it seems as a mid-twenties, childless military wife, I have to listen to discussions of fighter jets or stroller choices, none of which I quite relate to. So it made me wonder, what IS my place in this lifestyle?
It’s discovering my own, individual identity as primary and a military wife as secondary. I intend to use my passions to carve my own path through this wonderful and challenging military life, with the hope that others will follow.
To those mid-twenties civilians who are married, you can still embrace your youth and have fun all with your person beside you, learning and growing together.
To my fellow, childless military spouses, where you at?! But seriously, our biological clock is not ticking, no matter how long we’ve been married, and we still very much have a place within the community regardless of our choice to procreate or not. My parents married in their early 20s, spent their mid-late 20s traveling the world, then had me at 32. We can still be at the mercy of the Air Force (or whatever branch) and pursue our hobbies and career dreams (especially with today’s technology), we just have to learn how to adjust accordingly. We have the opportunity to see parts of the world we never would have seen otherwise and embrace our spontaneity and freedom to do so.
To the military moms out there, you are some strong women. While I’m not ready to be in your position, I still look up to you ability to perform the toughest job in the world while going through deployments, AND still have fun. Yes, I will hold your child and make weird funny noises at them, but only if you occasionally get that babysitter on Friday night to come out with me.
Keep on the lookout for blogs on future travel and tips on how I am embracing the overseas military life!