As a young girl and woman, I spent a lot of time day dreaming about what life would be like when I was older. Most specifically about my romantic life, about meeting my significant other, falling in love with him, and eventually marrying him. I never pretended about what married life would be like. In my childlike innocence, I assumed that getting married meant you were old and dead and that was boring. Much more exciting to be falling in love somewhere fabulous and maybe a bit dangerous. And of course, I was always number one in my love’s life and eyes. Nothing was more important to him, than me and my happiness. To be fair, it went the same way for me, he was always number one on my list.
And then reality hits.
It’s never really going to be true. At least, not as long as he is in the military or any other form of government service like he wants to be. Being a military wife, especially a military cop’s wife, is all about the broken dinner plans, the cancelled trips, and the long months alone. It’s about learning to survive the disappointment about yet another bailed on plan, but even more, it’s about learning to accept your place in his life. Second best.
Normally, this military thing only minimally intrudes on our out of work lives. Yes, I say that as I’m sitting in my military provided housing on a base in Turkey. But I’m serious, work stays at work and I stay at home and ne’er do the twain meet.
This week, this week though, has upended that nice little fantasy too. He’s had to work late every day and those 12+ hour days start to wear on everyone after a while. He comes home tired, cranky, and ranting about work and all he wants to do is sit on the couch and play video games to blow off steam. Being the good, supportive type wife, I let him. What’s good for him is good for both of us, right? Then he gets the news that he has to work on Saturday. No one can say for how long, but the meeting starts at 0900. He tells me this and combines it with the paper he has due on Sunday, the one he hasn’t written yet due to the long hours and video game playing, and tells me that I need to cancel our planned trip for Sunday.
I’m disappointed obviously, who wouldn’t be? But, I suck it up because that’s what a good wife does. And I just try to be supportive. But if it weren’t for this job thing, I’d be sitting in Mersin, eating lunch on the Mediterranean right now. He got up early this morning to finish his paper. Asked me what I wanted to do for lunch. For once, instead of shrugging and saying I didn’t care, I told him I’d like to eat off base at my favorite little restaurant nearby. So we bike there, walk through security off-base, and across the street and up the stairs to the little restaurant that I like so much. Just as we sit down and they come to ask for our drink orders, his on-call phone rings. He answers and immediately gets up and leaves, I trail in his dust. Back through security onto base, around to the bikes. Someone’s been hurt and he has to go in. No idea how long. As we’re unlocking the bikes, I tell him that I know he needs to get there and that I’ll go straight home to wait for a call from him on how long it’s going to take and if I can bring him any food. No thanks, no I’m sorry’s, just a single I have to now.
So here I sit. Second best. Bummed.
Not about the interrupted lunch, at least not entirely. Not about the cancelled trip, at least not exactly. But about being second best, and trying my best to just be supportive, and to get cut down for my efforts anyway. Sometimes, all it would take is a small little mention of being sorry to have to run and that the gesture to bring lunch is sweet and that a call will come as soon as it can. That way, I can know that even if I do have to come in second, that I’m still appreciated too.
Sometimes, this military wife thing is hard.