By Jaimi Erickson
Contributing Writer

Reflecting on learning about the presidents around Presidents Day, I think about leadership. It can seem so disconnected from my daily life as a mom and military spouse.

Do you remember completing reports about the presidents with the paper shaped like Washington and Lincoln’s heads? I remember writing down facts about our first and sixteenth presidents as part of Presidents Day activities at school. I always thought about the heavy burden of leading a country. Even now I wonder how it feels to step into a role that big. 

There were always the kids who said they wanted to be president when they grew up. I was not one of them. The job sounded so big and I never saw myself as a leader. Time would teach me differently. Eventually I would become a military spouse. 

Military spouses are often referred to as CINCHOME, which is an acronym that stands for Commander-In-Chief of the Home. There’s no doubt about it, military spouses, each in their own way,  are leading at home. We have to lean into that leadership role. Even if you do not see yourself as a leader, I will convince you otherwise.

I know military spouses who work full time and many who are stay-at home moms. But what all military spouses have in common is that they are stepping into the role of being a CINCHOME. 

I believe military spouses and moms are leaders. We are leaders because of the influence we  have on our families. We teach many lessons at home that help lead our children.

Throughout military life, servicemembers must follow orders. Those of you who have been military spouses for a while know we are never given the opportunity to weigh in on those orders or on the military’s plans. 

If our homes are going to stay in balance, it is our job to keep consistency especially when our servicemembers leave. Servicemembers have trainings and field operations,. deployments and temporary duty periods at remote locations. 

Maintaining stability and connection at home for me involves putting my family first. Our spouses’ service often requires the sacrifice of family time. That is just the nature of the job our servicemembers signed up for.

Every time we move to a new duty station, our primary village is in our homes. Our family must come first, and military spouses step up to lead. Even though military spouses know this, they join military life anyway. 

When my husband was talking about going back into the military, I presumed there would be time apart, frequent moves, and periods of time where I would be alone. We had a long-term outlook of military life. This view included the chance to see new places every few years, the opportunity to change through seasons of life at each new duty station, and freedom to reinvent ourselves or try again with friends and interests. 

The ultimate goal of earning a military retirement from the years of service all played into our joint decision to be all-in as a military family. I knew that meant my act of service as a military spouse was going to be leading our family. 

It is a lot to give every day. But today careers can be remote and social media allows us to maintain friendships over long distances. We have outlets that did not exist for military spouses even one decade ago. 

As military spouses, our real strength is adaptability. I know some whose spouse plays a large role in managing the household when they are home. I know more that take on that role to keep their family’s future on solid footing, because the nature of the military career is that servicemembers will eventually be sent away. When that happens, military spouses get the job done on the homefront. That is leadership

I have built military spouse communities and groups throughout my husband’s service. Through those actions, I learned great lessons about what to do and what not to do when leading others. 

As a mom, I just had a talk with my children about leadership. We discussed how leadership isn’t always the act of telling others what to do. It is often seeing what needs to be done and doing it. 

Being  a military spouse can often feel challenging if we focus on the small details. Military life is hard. But you can gain perspective if you widen your view. The long-term lessons are the gains made through your military spouse journey

When I look at major figures in our nation’s history, I try to use that wide angle view to appreciate their strengths and contributions. As a military spouse, I need to pause and reflect on the view of all I have led my family through. I have been a partner with my servicemember. My role as the spouse holds real value.

CINCHOME is a necessary role — and you lead in that role in an impactful way.

About Jaimi Erickson

Jaimi is a mom of 4, military wife, and writer. She blogs about motherhood, kids activities and homemaking tips at The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

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