I’ve been thinking a lot about my next blog and what it should be about. I guess I see a lot of examples of the ‘perfect’ military wife all the time! Now before I go on, I have to make something very clear; everyone’s definition of what makes someone perfect is very different, secondly, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ wife. These women just seem to make it all look easy. They are gracious, kind, able to make small talk with ease, can speak to anyone, never have doubts, they know what to say and do at the right time, they know who’s who and what’s what. Now for me, I cannot be something I am not, nor do I wish to be, most of the time, but sometimes……
We (people in the military or attached to the military) live a completely different life to normal people. It’s really quite an old fashioned world in a lot of ways, as the female spouse in many cases, stays home with the children. It’s difficult for spouses to get and maintain jobs because of our constant moving. Most of us are well educated and very intelligent, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! There’s also the matter of giving our children some sort of normalcy; meaning they get one parent at home on a regular basis – one constant in their life. And luckily, in my case, we can afford that, though two incomes would definitely be better, hence the reason so many military spouses are going into independent consulting businesses. But, I stray, that’s not what this is about. This is about the women I meet everyday, the women who have so many expectations put on them, the women who epitomize the perfect military spouse and the women who don’t.
This past week has afforded me this wonderful opportunity to meet lots of great ladies but I can’t help but feel like my husband got a raw deal. I’m brutally honest; we hosted a small dinner over the weekend for my hubby’s soldiers and they brought me a lovely bottle of wine, but then one of them asked if I liked it, I should have just lied and said yes, but I didn’t! I said, and I quote, “I like almost every wine out there, except for sweet wines.” (Should have stopped there but I didn’t!) I went on further to say something along the lines of re-gifting it or someone will drink it when they come over. Seriously. The grace left me. Afterwards I thought about how rude it was and I’m still berating myself for it, but I follow after my mother and have foot in mouth syndrome! I laugh at myself though, never taking anything I do too seriously, as I hope others don’t either. Once you get to know me, you’ll see that I may have this ability to put my foot in my mouth but I’m as loyal as hell and I’ll never give you the BS side of it! You’ll always get the truth, whether you like it or not. But sometimes I should limit my answers to one word! Yes, short and sweet.
I see people every day who are seemingly, the ‘perfect’ military spouse; they wear the right clothes, they have the right answers, they are always so positive, they serve the right food, they never drink too much wine, they go to church, basically they epitomize everything the perfect military spouse should. Sometimes I really wish I could do it all too. I say way too much, I speak my mind. I disagree with certain things the military does and say it out loud! I dress well, but I show cleavage (oops). I don’t know when to shut-up, seriously! I share way too much on Facebook too. I’m Australian and that in and of itself makes me different too. I’m not religious. And that’s a big one; I’m not an atheist either, I just try to live by the golden rule and if I started going to church, it would be hypocritical of me. But that in and of itself outcasts me. As my husband gets higher in rank, all of these things are going to start impacting him more and more, I’m going to have to watch what I say and do.
I hear some of you sitting there reading this saying, “so what!” But, it’s truly a big deal. In this life, the fact that I don’t fit in in so many ways, will always mean I’m a bit of an outcast. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of military spouse friends who accept me just the way I am but as I sit here and think of them, none of them have quite so many outcast traits as I do. They know how to talk the talk without trying, they too epitomize the ‘perfect’ military spouse. But you know what? I bet they too feel like outcasts at times too! The pressure on us to be the perfect wife gets old. We are living in a modern world surrounded by tradition, facing obstacles other spouses don’t face, and I’m not even talking about the obvious ones like deployments! Instead I’m referring to tradition meets modern, princess meets plumber, hostess with the mostest meets mum with guns (no, not the bullet wielding ones, the ones formed when one clenches a fist and shows muscly biceps). We are put down when we put on weight – yes those soldiers can be judgmental about military wives, yet, considered too much when we take pride in the way we look and dress. We are expected to know the traditions that go along with being a soldier, a sailor, an airmen, a marine, we are also expected to know the ranks, the to-dos, the expected behaviours of our military partners and the second language that comes with being attached to the military (the acronyms are a killer)! On top of all of that we aren’t really considered as anyone important; (though some spouses seem to think they wear the same rank as their service man/woman for some reason) everything is done under our spouse’s social security number! Yes, I know my husband’s better than my own! We can’t do certain things without them either. We move when they move, we take care of everything when their gone but we need power of attorneys to be able to operate normally. Welcome to our world; the world of ‘perfect’ spouses!
We have a military ball coming up and yes, I do know how to dress appropriately for it, I know what I should and shouldn’t do in the receiving line. Just so you know what I’m talking about if you’re unfamiliar with the military life: at a military ball, we actually do all get dressed up like princesses. It’s not appropriate to wear anything too revealing at these sorts of functions. True ball gowns are called for so if you enjoy dressing up like a princess every now and then, it’s really quite fun. There is a social hour before the official start to the ball where people have a drink and socialize. Once the receiving line goes into play though, we must finish our drinks and make our way along the line of VIPs into the ballroom. During this line, one must ensure one is not carrying a drink (it used to be a factor that one not be smoking either but given most places are non-smoking nowadays, this doesn’t normally come into play anymore). If you know people in the receiving line, it is not appropriate for you to stop and chat either, or to hug them for that matter, unless they hug you first. You will be introduced by your soldier spouse (who is dressed in their military finest) and you will walk through the line and say your hellos to everyone as you greet them. Then you will go to your table and be ready for the night’s formal portion. There are a lot of toasts and particular responses one must say after each toast (all in the program, thank goodness). It is all very proper and one thing I can do is proper, though I probably always end up having more wine than I should and normally I don’t like some of the food so the wine goes to my head faster than it would if I were eating a proper meal. It’s just the small talk I’m bad at. I can’t stand being fake and not getting to the heart of knowing someone so the small talk normally goes out the door in a flash. I’m not saying that small talk means your being fake but saying hello how are you to everyone and not really caring about their response, is definitely not being ‘real’ and we’ve all seen that in action, military world or not! I can’t stand it when people do it to me. Don’t ask if you don’t want the answer, it’s as simple as that, but I digress once again. Small talk and I don’t work well, give me your best small talk lines if you have any ideas, because I’d love to hear them!
From another angle, I love meeting honest-to-goodness people, you know, the ones who call it like it is. It’s refreshing in our military life, especially when they are seasoned mil spouses. I love talking to people and getting to know them beyond the bullshit small talk; those are the people I become friends with. I love hearing stories about crazy things, I love telling stories about crazy situations we’ve been through. I like to look nice and dress nicely, I like to have that touch of sexiness going on, especially if I’m going to be seeing my husband; yes I’m that woman, the one who thinks my husband is the sexiest man out there and who always likes to tease him just a little so he knows I’ve still got it too. I like it when other women look good too and take pride in how they dress. I’m not talking weight or makeup, I’m talking about looking nice and feeling confident. A confident woman has to be the sexiest kind of woman out there. I wear my workout clothes to the bus stop every single day. But if I’m going out, most of the time, I take pride in the way I look and the minute I take some time for me, I start to feel sexy.
The perfect wife: No there isn’t such a thing, and everyone’s definition is very different. There’s definitely a lot of close calls in my circle; I’m not one of them. Would I like to be? Sometimes, very much so. Other times, definitely not! I’d certainly like to better my social skills, perhaps learn to keep my mouth shut sometimes. For my husband’s benefit, it would be nice if I could fit in a little more, not that he’s too concerned on most days. But I do the best job I can do, I take each challenge as it comes and try to greet every person I meet without judgement, we are definitely judged enough by others. No, sometimes I don’t fit in at all. No, sometimes I don’t say the right thing either, but I’m there doing the best job I can and being the best me, I can be. But to military spouses out there feeling like they aren’t ‘perfect’, or feeling like they’ve screwed up something, you aren’t alone. We can’t all be perfect and even the perfect ones screw up sometimes! 😉 All we can do is be who we are, bettering ourselves all the time and being the ‘best’ us, we can be.