It’s Valentine’s Day here. This is actually the first Valentine’s Day that Cristin and I have spent apart since we started dating in our first year of medical school. We generally don’t do anything too fancy on the holiday itself as we both hate waiting in lines at restaurants. So, we’ll often exchange cards on the holiday, but reschedule our Valentine’s Day dinner at a restaurant for a weekend before or after the holiday when we won’t have fight through the crowds. We’re going to Skype later this afternoon, but that’s going to be the extent of our celebration this year given the physical distance between us. So, I’ve decided to write this instead. In the interest of full disclosure, I got the idea for the rest of this post after seeing a similarly themed comment that one of our medic’s friends had made on Facebook. I was struck with the truth of what they’d said, so I decided to run with it.
In the terminology of the military personnel and benefits system, the Army considers Cristin my dependent. The further I get into this deployment, the more and more I recognize that they’ve got this backwards. Since I left to start this trip, Cristin has been doing double and triple duty: working a fulltime job that’s probably closer to time and a half, raising Drew without my help, and taking care of the house without having me around to lend a hand.
Like many other military wives, she’s moved across the country (twice) to locations that she never would have considered otherwise. She’s started to learn a foreign culture (the army) and become adept and navigating their frequently frustrating system. She’s learned a 2nd language made entirely of capital letters: ACU, BDU, TDY, PCS, ETS, OIC, NCOIC, CCCC, BAH, BAS, TCMC, TMC, DCCS. She’s bent her career to fit into the jobs that were available where we were posted. She’s settled for housing we know we’ll leave in another year or two when she’d rather stop and set down roots. She’s even developed the patience to accept that where we live next may be out of our control, with the decision resting in the office of an anonymous administrator half the way across the country. She’s learned to deal with the absences, even before the deployment, as the Army shipped me around the country for training for weeks at a time. She’s handled the yard work, plumbing issues, assembling toys, monthly finances, and even taxes without me around to lend a hand. Just like everyone else, she’s had her moments where she’s wanted to throw the uniforms in the trash, toss our stuff in the car, and drive back home. But, she’s stuck with it and we’ve made it through everything together to come out on top.
For these reasons, and a thousand others, I’d like to publicly acknowledge today what every married soldier already knows. The Army’s got it backwards. We’re dependent on our wives, not the other way around, and there’s no way that I could be doing what I am right now without knowing that she was at home, taking care of everything else and waiting for me to come back.
So, to military wives everywhere, Happy Valentines Day! And, Cristin, I love you, I miss you, and I’m coming home soon!