Anything But Dependent is the title I chose for my weekly spouse column. I came up with this title because of the stereotype we are given. Our civilian counterparts have labeled us as dependent, needy, and whiney. I am normally pretty reserved when someone has views different from my own. I respect them, keep an open mind, and try to gain perspective from listening to others. But this is something that I can’t keep quiet about. I even caught myself snapping at a very rude woman in line behind me at the store once. She was talking about living in “this town” and how she was tired of “these lazy military wives” to a friend on the phone.
She was referring to an exhausted looking woman in pajama pants who was in front of us holding her credit card and a Military ID. While I waited for her to end her conversation, thoughts flew through my mind. Who was the woman in the pajama pants? I wonder what would bring her to the store at 7:45AM. Was she sick with no one to help her? Was she getting something for her child that couldn’t wait until later?
I then started thinking of all the times that I have gone to the store in sweat pants and my hair tied in a knotty mess just to get the much needed medicine for my children or myself. So many thoughts were rushing through my brain that it made my face heat up. The women hung up her phone and I turned to her and said, “I couldn’t help but over hear your comment about military wives, I just wanted to let you know that you are putting a very negative stereotype on a large and amazing group of women.” She replied, “There’s nothing amazing about women that sit around waiting on their husbands and having babies!”
“Oh, no she did not just say that,” I thought to myself. It took all I had not to scream at this woman. I paid for my items and then I calmly turned and faced her eye to eye and said,” I am the wife of an active duty Navy man who protects your right to say whatever you want, but I will have you know that I don’t sit around and wait for him. I have my own life, a job, two amazing children, and I get more done by 9 am than most women do in an entire day. Maybe you should think twice before labeling someone you know nothing about”. I then walked away without giving her the chance to reply.
I felt a rush of emotion. Is that what people really think of the military wife? I quickly came to the conclusion that this girl was just ignorant. She doesn’t know any better. How would she? No one lies across their bed as a teenage girl dreaming of marrying the man of her dreams who will seldom be home. I’m sure she doesn’t know the strength it takes to give birth while your husband is deployed or take care of a child all by herself night after night, not knowing when her next full night of rest may be. This girl has never moved into a town she didn’t know and had to purchase a home or find a job by herself not knowing how long she will live there. Only the women that have walked in the shoes know the challenges, obstacles, and extreme strength it takes to do all of this.
Military spouses are anything but dependent. The military labels us as a “dependent” of our husbands. And I understand what the military means by it. But, by the definition of the word itself, we are far from it. My husband likes to say he couldn’t function in the Navy without me. I’m his rock. We are best friends and a team. Sure my husband could have done this by himself, but he isn’t. The Navy did not issue me; therefore I’m not a necessity, right? My husband would argue that one! We believe that without each other, we wouldn’t be who we are today. We give credit to each other for all of our successes. Nothing has been accomplished alone. I’m sure that there might be a few salty men that disagree with the statement saying that their wife had nothing to do with their success and vice versa. Maybe it’s true, but that is something I would happily and respectfully challenge.
With that said, there is a fine line between dependency and support. I look to my husband for support, but I am not dependent. I support my husband, but he is not dependent on me. We encourage, love, and respect each other. And together, though sometimes very far apart, we take on the world one day at a time.
Military wives are strong, smart, resourceful, and can do anything that they put their minds to. We could give MacGyver a run for his money! As women, we need to find the strength within ourselves and not be discouraged by the word “dependent”. This is where that cute childhood saying comes in. Anything boys can do, girls can do better! Well, maybe not always better, but we can do it. And while our husbands are away, we do it all and then some. Although I admit, there are some things I wish my husband was here to do during the deployments! An example would be that it is a well known fact that my air conditioner and I are not friends. My lawn mower and I go through angry spells and there are days that my trimmer won’t even talk with me. Well, if talking was considered “turning on”. And of course the biggest issue is that my best friend is deployed.
The bottom line is that we can run a household, have a career, find time to volunteer, raise a family, go to school, start a business, have time with our biological families and our Navy families, taxi our children around and so much more, but with one huge difference. . . Our husbands are serving in the military. The worry, stress, and schedule add weight to everything above. Be proud of your accomplishments. You really are anything but dependent.