homegrown mama

::Doing Army life – the “right” way::

In family, military life on 20112011-10-26T09:30:48+00:0031 9/11 at 09:30

“I just wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do and where to go.”

One thing we all have in common as military members or spouses is learning how to “do” this life. No matter our place or family of origin, we were introduced to this institution at some point along the way, and considered how it would affect our jobs, our dreams, our family, our 10-year-plans, etc. And while the Canadian Forces requires a certain amount of conformity from us, this experience really is different for everyone.

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a type-A person, who likes to do things by the book. Subsequently, I expect everyone else to be this way, too (rules and policies exist for a reason, right?). Too bad not everyone has such a black-and-white perspective. To some people, there are grey areas; to others, rules are merely guidelines.

When hubby joined the Army, and then spent the next 16 months in training, he told me daily of the regimented routines he endured, the strict guidelines by which he had to abide, and the high standards he had to keep. The recruits who kept up with the demands excelled; those who didn’t were re-coursed or their careers were prematurely terminated. As gruelling and relentless as this sounded, I secretly longed for my life to fit into a box that way, with expectations laid out and consistent timelines. Why? I was home with a newborn – my first, of course – and while she was only a month old, she had me at her beck and call, at all hours of the day…and night. And she was completely unpredictable.

When we finally arrived in Shilo, I started to meet other military spouses. I’d often hear about their plans, their careers, their educational choices for their children, their weekly activities, their hobbies and pastimes. But I felt lost in this new Army world; I just wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do and where to go. “Isn’t there a ‘right’ way to do this?” I thought, frantically. I couldn’t help but feel…behind. The focus of my entire pregnancy and first four months as a mother was to get us successfully to our new destination; I just didn’t think about what I’d do when we got there.

I’ve never come across such a diverse group of people who have one common thread, and while this kinship should create camaraderie, it actually made me feel disconnected. I was discovering so much about others, and so much about our new hometown, that I just felt like I couldn’t keep up. It was one, big grey area!

Almost two years into living here and meeting new families, I have learned that being a military member may dictate where you live and work, but being a military spouse means finding your own way down one of many paths. Each new posting requires us to relearn a routine, adjust our goals, fill out the forms, and make the appropriate arrangements. There’s no need to do it any certain way, and how we fit the Canadian Forces into our lives is unique to each family.

But the best part about it is there is always someone else close by who is going through this also – giving us yet another thing in common.

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  1. Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 years that you moved! I think it’s true of many circumstances or journeys in our lives… we just want to get “there” but don’t really think beyond that.
    I admire you Meghan, for the way you navigate through life and your own journey, with your family.

  2. Good column! I’ve wondered how it “

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