Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Packer Who Didn't

Quote that rubbed me just the right way this morning:

"If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author and everyday you have the opportunity to write a new page." - Mark Houlahan

I love this. Being a book whore, and a writer in progress, I especially appreciated this quote instead of all the over-used typical dance-in-the-rain crap. I hate those! No more dancing in the rain while nobody is watching junk! A person can do almost anything if they know nobody else is watching them. You want to enjoy life? Have the nerve to dance in front of people! Just don't do it on a table, pole, or accept singles for it.

Tangent over. I hope.

I'm just procrastinating. Unfortunately, it's what I do... fortunately, I'm aware and working on it. Today is our first official single digit day! 9 days until the big day... the day we leave SoCal, leave the Marine Corps, and move back home. I thought I would take a minute to dive a little deeper into my thoughts about this whole thing. I'm certain that I have been very negative about the Marine Corps and California. It's not that petty, those are just the quickest ways to express my unhappiness.

Regarding the military:
Mustache Man and I were married for just over two years when we talked it over and decided he would enlist. I've wondered if it was perhaps harder for us because we had our married life together before the military came along. A lot of the other military wives I have come to know married into this lifestyle. My conclusion is that being a military family is hard no matter what. I don't think that our 13 month deployment was more difficult than a 6 or 9 month deployment. Gone is gone.

We had a few reasons for enlisting. We wanted Mustache Man to be able to pursue his education. We couldn't have afforded the student loans, and the GI Bill was a great solution for us. Mustache Man had a dream of being a fighter pilot, but that wasn't going to happen. When we started dating, he gave up the idea of being in the military because he didn't want to be away from me. We got married just 2 1/2 months after he turned 18. When he promised to love me forever, I personally resolved to make sure that he wouldn't miss out on opportunities or life experiences because he married me at such a young age. Mustache Man did 4 years of JROTC in high school, and while we knew he wouldn't be a fighter pilot, I didn't want him to wonder "what-if?" later down the road. The medical and dental benefits were also desirable.

The benefits have been great. Mustache Man is planning on starting college in the fall and his GI Bill will pay for everything. Because of the medical benefits, we have our 2 beautiful children for whom we haven't had to pay any hospital expenses. I've had my tubes ties free of charge - we no longer have to worry about paying for birth control or about a "surprise" baby down the road. We even appreciated moving away from Washington. While we missed "home" severely, we were able to completely leave our families and grow closer together and create our own family identity.

The costs - Mustache Man has been gone so much. While we've formed our own family identity, we've also fractured our family in a way. We knew to expect all the training (boot camp, combat training, then his MOS *read: job* training). We knew before we signed papers that he would go on a deployment. What we didn't expect was for him to be gone for a total of 4-5 months every year for weeks, and sometimes a month, at a time as a regular part of his job. We didn't expect for his normal working hours (when at home) to be from 6:30 am to whenever the guy in charge decided to let him come home (sometimes 8 or 9 pm). I certainly didn't expect the stupidity Mustache Man deals with on a daily basis. Every Thursday the Marines have to field day the barracks, and since the CAG came back from deployment (and especially since Mustache Man was relocated to his current battery), this includes married Marines who don't live at the barracks. One of the Thursday's this month found the entire battalion in the parking lot picking grass and weeds out of the cracks in the parking lot because some big wig was on a power trip. I am tired of my children not seeing/knowing their father. Every time we get into a routine, Mustache Man leaves again for 3 weeks, maybe a month, and we get thrown into a "single parent" scenario. When he gets home again, Ayslyn doesn't have that special bond with him anymore, and Zach has no idea why Dad was gone and is suddenly back again.

A lot of everyday people (read civilians) look at our life and say "but the military pays you for housing!" or "you have a guaranteed paycheck and free medical!". Those are true statements. But what do we have to give in order to receive those things?

I spent 13 months praying my husband would be safe and come home. I gave birth to our first child 6 months into the deployment. My husband came home to a 7 month old son. I've been so, so, so alone. My heart has been broken, knowing that my husband can't be reliable because he has to answer his phone at all times of the day and on weekends, and is expected to go into work at a moment's notice. Any say he has had over his life was signed over to the United States Marine Corps.

This last year has been a time of decision for us. For the first time in 4 years, we are choosing what we can do with our life. We did talk of re-enlisting in the beginning - but my bottom line wouldn't be matched by the Marine Corps. I handed Mustache Man the power over our lives. I told him that I respected him as the head of our household and the choice was his. I told him, honestly, that I hated this lifestyle and some days I felt like I couldn't do it anymore. BUT, if this was the way that he wanted to provide for our family, and if this was what he wanted to do with his life, I would support him in his decision and stand next to him in it.

He ultimately made the decision to "get out". I'm so grateful for my husband, his hard work, and all of his sacrifice. He is the greatest man I know.

So we're picking our family up and going home. We're going to make the life we've always wanted for ourselves. In 9 days, we get to stop waiting, push the play button, and move forward onto the next chapter. Finally.

It's a great thing to get back control over your life, your family, and your decisions. If I could do it over again, I don't know if I would choose to do the same thing. My only advice is this: never give away the power over your life.

1 comment:

  1. Response to your advice: Too late... :P

    Congrats on reaching the end of this stage of your guys' life!

    ~ Luv, Jen