Being a military spouse has a lot of stressors embedded within the role that most people know. You know we PCS or move frequently, you know our spouse deploys, and you probably know there’s a rank structure. Above and beyond that, most people don’t understand the reality of being a military spouse. If I’m honest, some military spouses don’t know the reality until it is staring them in the face. I like to call this the supposed to happen VS what actually happens phenomenon. The formula is pretty simple and straightforward – never trust what the military tells you is supposed to happen. Plan for what you think will actually happen.
A few weeks ago, I was happily trotting through life. We had just over a year left on our current orders in Southern California, and life was good. We were not supposed to PCS for another 12+ months. I had managed to carefully plan out our IVF embryo transfer based off of how much time we still had to go living here, no worries there. I was full speed ahead with school and even took it a step further to double my course load – go me! And in an incredibly bold move, had begun applying for jobs that appealed to me and where I was in my life. I was flying high with all the time in the world in front of me. Then things started to shift.
A casual mention at first, “hey, we may get moved early” was placed on the table and never mentioned again for months until it was. And not only was it mentioned, but it was also a done deal. My husband never calls me from work unless one of two things has happened – he’s going to be home beyond an hour he can even fathom, or he has to tell me something that he can’t text or email me about. When my phone rang after 6 pm I assumed he was calling to tell me he’d be chained to his desk for a few more hours (which he was), but instead, he leads with, “pack your cold weather gear – we’re moving to Norway.”
This is a textbook example of what was supposed to happen – finish out the time on our existing orders. And what actually happens – you’re moving 10 months early to Norway. This is military spouse life. It’s unpredictable and messy, with our needs often being thrown further and further back on the list of priorities. As I sat and thought about the realities of our upcoming move, I wasn’t a happy camper. But then, I got to thinking about the experience we have had in the short time we have been married — first the Middle East and now Europe, all compliments of the Department of Defense.
Is moving this frequently out of the country convenient? No, not at all. Anyone who tells you it is is still in the denial stage. But here’s the thing: we get to experience the world like few others. The journey on the military train ends for all of us eventually. Sure, we’ll always be a part of the community, but there will come a time when the topic of PCS orders does not exist in our home anymore. So, why not have a little fun with it? Norway, here we come.