We are currently living in unprecedented times around the globe. The more time I have had (which has been a lot) to really think about all of the new change that comes with living in the times of a global pandemic, I have come to realize that I was fully prepared to survive because of the time I have had endured as a military spouse. Let me explain.
When you are “married to the Navy” you go into the marriage knowing that you will never be put first. This is hard in the beginning because when you're young and in love; all you wish for is your knight in shining armor to pick you up and carry you off into the moonlight. This is something you obviously take years to work through.
I can recall finally throwing up the white flag to the Navy without fighting back six years into my marriage. It was right after my husband had made chief petty officer (a huge accomplishment in its own right), but also, we had just had our first son. Living in different states and countries, even apart from any family at the time, I felt absolute hopelessness. I can recall wanting to just run away from all my circumstances at the time, but also wanting to prove to myself I could get through this.
I did get through it, even stronger than before. At that point, I thought I was invincible. I didn’t need the Navy, I didn’t even need a man! Or so I thought. My anger had turned into strength and after countless PCSs (permanent change of station), another child, and so many deployments to even count, I sit here now and think, “Shoot, this pandemic thing we are all going through, is military day-to-day life!”
When we get new duty stations and have to pack up our lives to go start somewhere fresh, there are a lot of changes and fears that come with that. All of our belongings are packed up by strangers and put into large wooden containers and nailed shut, only for us to say goodbye to what was our life there and to start fresh somewhere else. I recall the feeling in the pit of your stomach when you watch the movers drive off, not knowing when you're going to see your “household goods” again. We have spent six months more than once living out of suitcases and in hotel rooms. Trust me, with toddlers you get very crafty! You have to find ways for them to learn along the way, and when you're living in hotel rooms for several months at a time, you end up turning that into a makeshift classroom too! We have had to endure these changes while remaining strong for our husbands and children.
“Don’t worry, I've got this, focus on getting comfortable in your new position” is a thought that comes once or twice, maybe even more times in a three-year period. Many big milestones and events are missed by our loved ones serving, and so guess what? We adapt. We move Christmas up a week, we hold birthday parties weeks after the fact. We let the kids miss a week of school to go on a family vacation, so we can all be a part of it. We just adapt.
The class of 2020 may be impacted because of this global outbreak right at this moment, but that doesn't mean they have to “miss out” on all the celebrations that come with graduating. You just postpone and do them in a safer time.
As far as I am concerned, my children are handling the current situation like they would any other PCS. They are adapting and they are resilient, just as we are. But this time, they have all their toys and all their furniture!
I recall my neighbor, who is a former military man himself, asking how we were all holding up? My response was, “We are great, kids are in their groove and at least we have all of our personal belongings and each other, not like when we first moved here and lived in the house for a month and a half without anything, so this is cake!” He laughed, and said, “I’ll never forget that you guys lived in that house without a thing for that long.” I responded with, “It was an adventure.” Those of you who are spouses or ever were, you know and understand the bond that can never be broken.
That being said, I want to let all of humanity know that this moment in time is going to hold the most impact on how we treat one another in the years to come. If you are lucky enough to have lived in a military community at one point in time or to have a former or currently serving military neighbor, you will fully understand what it means to be a community. Take the time to ask your neighbors if they need anything, become more aware of your surroundings, take many walks, read that book you have been meaning to read, and connect with your children on a different level. There is no time like the present to do the things you have been meaning to “get to.” As a former military wife, I can find peace in knowing that what we are all going through now, I’ve done several times before and in harder circumstances, and for this, I consider myself lucky.