Part 1 of a multi-part series

Having the experience of being an Air Force Officer’s wife for fifteen plus years has revealed to me some traits that would create the perfect military wife. If these qualities could be rolled-up into one woman and then some secret military lab could clone that woman repeatedly—the government would have quite the ideal bridal cache to issue to its active duty force.

Like a rodeo clown...

[Caption: Like a rodeo clown…]

Trait: The ability to successfully adapt to constant change is necessary, for change is the one constant in the military lifestyle.

For example, when the military member is getting deployed there are dates and locations that are initially put forth as “the plan.” The wife cannot count on this original, official itinerary to remain static and unchanged, but should view it more like a first draft. This plan can and will be changed an innumerable amount of times before something is set in stone.

One time, my husband had a two month heads-up that he was going to Camp Victory, Iraq, for six months. Two months notice is excellent. Well, that got abruptly modified to a five day notice. Oh, and the return date kept changing back and forth, up and down—interfering with our date to move to another state.  Those five days were just enough time to squeeze in an Anthrax shot, get some new uniforms, give a good-bye speech to the squadron, and throw a little party at home to wish him “bon voyage.” Well, never mind. A couple of days later the trip was reassigned to someone else. Imagine that guy’s wife’s reaction!

I was RELIEVED that my husband didn’t have to go; but, I had been on pins and needles and running on empty every minute of those five days to get everything done and squared away. Not only had I been needlessly worrying myself to death about his pending Iraqi vacation, but I had to go through the rigmarole of returning the going-away gifts, making a shitload of phone calls to friends and family explaining what had happened, and also telling the kids that Daddy wasn’t going anywhere anymore. Yes, those are all happy activities, but I was completely spent. I had been reduced to a wisp of a person and my story isn’t nearly as bad as some out there.

Having multiple, major shifts in life impacting expectations is mentally and physically draining. The perfect military wife would take the ever-updated news in stride. She would pack his mobility bag with a proud smile, handle the stress in style, throw the best parties in his honor, and send him off with the best sex he’s ever had. However, I have yet to meet a woman like that. Usually the wife is all beat-up, keeping a good front for the children, and trying to make the best of things without crumpling into a wad on the living room floor. In reality, having to deal with the stress is like being a rodeo clown in an arena full of angry bulls—sudden, threatening moves coming one after the other and being in constant need of new strategy. If you aren’t able to adjust to the newest move, you’re shredded.

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