Military Wife Cycle

August 26, 2007

I just peeked at my blog entries from last August and confirmed that it has now been a year since we have been back in the States. Which means my theory on the "military wife cycle" seems to be holding water. Here's my theory and my experience. The first year in a new duty station is spent getting settled, feeling lonely, and getting lost. The second year is one of over-involvement, social connections, and happiness. The third year is the limbo year of seeing/doing all the things we planned to do in that part of the world, preparing to move, saying good-bye, and building excitement about a new destination. And then the cycle starts all over again.

Throughout the summer I could feel myself starting to enter the second year. Starting to form closer friendships, starting to get less frustrated about the local drivers because I have temporarily become one, and starting to volunteer for too many things. And I am now firmly in the second year. I have somehow gotten myself on the parent board for the kids' preschool (in charge of the yearbook). I am now having to do some serious juggling with our weekly schedules to keep up with the playdates, dinner dates, and neighborhood gatherings. I run the book club for our local adoption group. I am getting ready to write some grants for the preschool so we can start a community garden. I am considering options for volunteer social work. I have also (this was a shocker for me) decided to start up a military spouses' group for the Naval Hospital.

The shocking part of starting up a spouses' group is that I never thought of myself as "that kind of military wife". Prior to getting married, when Adam and I were both still in graduate school at Tulane and living a very civilian life. I had all sorts of panic attacks about what this whole military wife thing would be like (not to mention the stress of also becoming a Jewish doctor's wife! that's another post for another day!). I had an image in my head of some sort of 1950s era gathering of women in white gloves, drinking tea, and identifying themselves by their husband's rank. 

When we officially started our military life together during Adam's residency, I have to admit to feeling relieved when I met other wives who seemed very down to earth, other wives who also worked, wives who had natural deliveries and breastfed, wives who listened to NPR, wives who had identities of their own. And husbands who are also military spouses and stay-at-home dads. Although the military refers to all spouses and children as "dependants", I am happy to say there are some very independant military spouses out there. I didn't get all that involved with the spouses group until moving to Japan and having children. Two events which proved to me that the support of others is priceless. Which is why I was so shocked to discover that in our current duty station, there isn't anything for spouses. I spent a year complaining about it and then decided to change that. After meeting with Commanding Officer at the hospital, I was given command approval and support to start the group. I built a website, started a yahoo group, and next week I am hosting the "Welcome Coffee". And I can guarantee there won't be any white gloves!

Jessica said...

Wow, congrats on the big step of starting a spouses group! I'm very proud of you. ;) I'm also very happy (and jealous) to see that you are sailing into that second year and doing so well.

It's kind of weird to read your post and think about how I will no longer be part of that world, or cycle, in a few weeks. Crazy.

Lucia, Adam, Noah and Camille said...

You are part of my inspiration for starting the spouses group...I think you were the first NOSCO president with a PhD! It's hard for me to believe how close you guys are to being done with the Navy life. Hang in there and hopefully we'll make a trip up there soon.

Morena, Andy, Dominic & Christian said...

I think you are right on with the military spouse theory! Been there, done that! :)

the clan mccawley said...

How insightful. Even after 15 years of active duty life/wife life, I have never thought of it quite like that. How true it is. I've been so entrenched in the very beginning stages of year 1 that anything resembling year 2 seems light years away. Then today, my neighbors included us in a party for their son and I had a glimmer of the future. It was much brighter than I thought it could be. Your post reminded me to look forward and remember that each place we hang our hats IS home. Although I have to say, Oki will always hold the most special place in my heart.
Thanks for inspiring me, my friend.

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