This guest post is by Jen. You can find her at Injenious Life 🙂
I grew up as a military brat. My parents met in ROTC and my dad spent his career in the Army. By the time I was 21, I had moved 13 times in my life. Both my grandfathers served in the military, my brother served in the Army, so when it came time for me to make my life choices, the Army seemed like the most logical choice.
Growing up was exciting. I have driven (nearly) across the entire country. I’ve lived in Germany and we got to visit many countries while we were there. A trip to Spain corresponded with my birthday so I love to tell people, “oh, for my 8th birthday, I went to Spain.” I’ve only been skiing once but it was in Austria, on the Alps. So exotic.
I spent my “formative” years in one place though, Kentucky. There, I learned how to drive but since it was a small place, I never drove on an interstate highway until I was 18 and a freshman in college. Now? I’m a pro. It seems so strange to think that it took me that long to drive on one.
I went to college and joined ROTC. Most of my friends were in ROTC too and about half of them were Army brats. Being a part of the Army community just made sense to us. Us, we wanted (still want) to serve our country so that played a part in our decision. But for me? Well, I’m not sure how to operate in a purely civilian world.
I met my husband at work in 2009. We fell in love hard and fast were married 8-ish months later. I came off active duty but still serve in the Reserves. Most of the time, I am an Army wife. I know how ID cards and DEERS works because it’s all I’ve ever known, I never knew how hard it must have been for my mom to have to wait for my dad to be available to take her to the office though. Having a power of attorney is like having the key to a city.
My husband was TDY for our first move together, and of course, it was OCONUS. I had to get the house packed, the cats packed, clean and clear housing, all on my own. Luckily, I knew what to expect. I had lived in base housing before. I know how to clean a house for inspection. I know what to look for when the movers are packing our stuff up. I know what “right looks like.” Luckily, my mom was able to come help with the kids and the drive to Florida and since she was also an Army wife, she helped keep me on track.
Growing up in an Army house has made being an Army wife easier. I understand the acronyms. I understand that just because the Army says we’re going somewhere or doing something, it doesn’t mean a thing until there are orders in our hands and even then, things could change. I feel more “in the know” about how things work on base even. My husband didn’t know you were supposed to tip baggers for like 2 years. I used to be a bagger so I totally understand why the baggers gave him crazy looks. For major purchase, I always check the PX first, my husband NEVER shopped there before we got married because he didn’t know what it was.
Army life is nothing like what you saw on Army Wives (when it was good) and I am grateful for that because it is so much better. Yes, being an Army family is tough but you know what? Sometimes, I see my civilian friends talk about their lives on Facebook and I think “how boring it must be to live in one place, doing the same thing forever?”