I recently finished reading Alice Bliss, a book I received courtesy of Book Crossing. In this book, Alice’s father is a member of the National Guard, and is called up to fight in Iraq. The book shows the family left behind dealing with this. I’ll do a more thorough review later, but as I was reading, I was super-annoyed by Alice’s mother. This is partly because Alice is annoyed by her mother, but I think also because the mother was portrayed in a way that I don’t like to think about being. The reality is, each branch of the armed services is a little different, and being married to a full-time service member is different from being married to a member of the National Guard. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I just mean that when it’s your spouse’s full-time job, you get used to the idea that he (or she) could be whisked away from you without much notice. Or at least you get used to ignoring the idea. Alice’s mother is caught completely off guard. The other reality is, even though I personally deal with deployment by keeping my mouth shut and moving forward (denial), none of us are as strong as we’d like to be. So the portrayal of Alice’s mother was maybe more realistic than I’d like.
So, thinking about Alice’s mom got me thinking about all the types of military wives I’ve known and have been. I think we all pop in and out of these categories, and maybe they’re no different from non-military wives, but here you go:
The Temp is only here for a short while, and she has no intention of letting you forget that. She constantly talks about where she and her family are going next. She obsesses over retirement planning. She is waiting to have children, or go to school, or start her career, or really have any sort of life until “he’s done with this military thing.” If “this military thing” lasts more than ten years, she will probably become The Malcontent, described below.
Nothing is ever good enough for this spouse. Her husband should have received that award. He should’ve been promoted years ago. This base (wherever it is) is far inferior to their previous base (wherever that was). In fact, this entire area is full of idiots and philistines. If only they were in Utah/Kansas/Arizona/California/wherever she’s from, life would be worth living. Here, though, well, we all have to put up with things. He owes her, though, for dragging her all around to one godforsaken place after the next. He owes her BIG TIME.
AMERICA, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Every day is the Fourth of July for this woman. She wears red and white and blue on all non-religious national holidays. She cries when she hears the National Anthem and during the Olympics. She is almost invariably a Tea Party activist, and looks down on anyone who is destroying the Constitution (read: anyone who disagrees with her about anything). She thinks everyone should speak English. If you think something is wrong with America, you should go someplace else.
The Party Girl
Wine, anyone? A little splash of schnapps? How about a margarita? This wife is constantly in need of a girls’ night out. She plans spouse’s socials almost exclusively with the goal of getting everyone plastered. How can anything be fun if you’re sober? She has pneumatic breasts and wears designer trash. At Reunion (when the soldiers come home from deployment), she’s the one in the electric blue tube “dress,” obviously sans undies. She’s up for anything, any time, with anyone. Hang gliding? YES! Surfing? YES! Shopping? YES! And maybe a drink afterwards? It’s five o’clock somewhere…
This woman looks out for everyone else, whether they’ve asked her to or not. She brings gourmet, homemade cupcakes to all functions. She monitors how much everyone else has had to drink, though she doesn’t necessarily sign up to be a designated driver. She will tell you how to fix your love life, your children, and that stain on your couch. She has an unfortunate penchant for “mom jeans,” and tends to be a little on the pudgy side (all those cupcakes).
Like The Mom, above, The Helper manages to be everywhere, all the time. Key Spouse? Check. Training for a marathon? Check. Four perfect, home-schooled genius children? Check. She’s the designated driver, the sunshine committee, the welcome wagon, and anything else anyone might need. She’s managing her own life so perfectly that of course she has time to help you with yours. Do you need someone to shovel the snow off your walk? She’ll be there in five.
The Stiff-Upper Lip
What military? This wife has things to do and places to be and no time for tears. he has his job, and she has hers. No, she does not need your help. Save your sympathy for The Temp. Everything is going to be just fine. Can we all just stop overreacting, please?
Everyone has heard that Capt. Smith has a wife, but no one has seen her. She doesn’t come to any events or socials, she doesn’t attend briefings, and she doesn’t even show up for Reunion. The Smiths live a ways out from the base, so she doesn’t live near anyone else. Does she not like it here? Does she not like the squadron? Is she agoraphobic? Sightings are rumored about, but no one has any conclusive proof of her existence. The squadron is beginning to suspect that perhaps she is a figment of Capt. Smith’s imagination.