By Jaimi Erickson
In my mind, we are still the new military couple that just moved into our first home on base. The years have unrolled before us and we have lived fully through every inch of the journey. But as I look back at my spouse’s career, it feels like time has moved in fast-forward mode. As we near the finish line of retirement, it makes me reflect, with mixed emotions, on this journey.
When looking back on your life, there is an added level of learning and it does not lead me to regret. Reflection leads instead to awe of how the pieces of my journey as a military spouse fit together.
The Remarkable Journey of MilSpouse Life
I am in awe of what I never signed up for but handled anyway. There is an increased admiration for what my spouse has endured, too — so many weeks and months away from the kids and they still cheer when he walks in the door every night. As I look out into the world and see broken families, and then look at my own, I am grateful. We have survived deployments, training, and single parenting for days, weeks, months, and a year at times. I am so deeply thankful that my military family made it this far.
Looking back at my servicemembers’ career makes me feel fulfilled. While some people only hope to travel the country and explore new places, our family has done it every three years. Some wish to build community by being the love they wish to see in the world. We have been building community at each new duty station.
I did not know the situations and places of this military career — which at the time just felt hard, or confusing, or ridiculous — were going to teach me such valuable lessons.. But, those situations were really a collection of steps and each one took varying lengths of time to climb. They built upon one another. I can appreciate all those lessons now, as I look back on the path we’ve climbed.
Friends I made 10 years ago are now the rocks I rely on for advice and encouragement. I appreciate those who taught me tough lessons, and I am so thankful for that process that supported each new level of growth
All We Take with Us Are the Lessons
Military life is a doctoral program in adulting. It teaches what you need to know to survive, what you actually do not need, and how strong you are to live through it.
Every military spouse does it a little differently. But, we all live through our own story of overcoming. We achieve success as we navigate the challenges even when we want to quit. When we thought we couldn’t do it again, we managed to make it happen.
It is remarkable to be at a point where I see how each stage of this military spouse journey grew into the next. I love where this journey led me, and I appreciate what it has done for my family.
We do not receive ribbons for what we endure as military spouses. From the place where I am now, I think the lessons are the reward, though. These life lessons keep adding up over time, and they do not fade.