We moved to Kansas a couple of weeks ago, but my husband hasn’t joined us yet. It’s called a PCS en route. For you non-military folk, that means he had to go to a training out of state and we were supposed to move when he was done, but instead, when he left for the training, the family left for the new place and he will catch up. We chose to do this out of concern for our high schooler getting enough class time in one school to earn his tenth grade credits. There’s a lot to be considered when you have to move frequently with kids in tow. The last few weeks have kept me too busy to think about much, and he has certainly been away much longer than this, but there are moments when it’s just as lonely as any other time he has to go away. This morning when I was in the shower, I looked over at the empty place where his soap should sit and I got so sad. It sure is weird how things hit you sometimes, isn’t it? Well, being a writer, it was time to put some words down on paper and the following poem is what came out. I think anyone missing their love for any reason can probably relate to the feelings I have shared here.
Dependapotomus. It really is a word. One that military wives like to throw around at each other to insult and bully. Yep, I said it – bully. “Oh, it’s just a joke. You have no sense of humor.” Actually, I’m hilarious. But, I will call it like I see it and it is bullying. You have probably never heard of this if you are not associated with the military, so I’ll let you in on a well known military spouse secret. Many military wives, a good deal of them actually, think they have it all figured out. They know exactly what a military wife should act like and who they should be, and they LOVE telling other women what they are doing wrong. This is not unlike women in general. Check out the “mommy wars” for a good example: you don’t care about your kids if you don’t stay at home, you are a worthless leech if you don’t get a job, you are a selfish witch if you don’t breast feed, you are nothing but a caged tool if you don’t bottle feed, you are a ridiculous, smelly hippie if you don’t use disposable diapers, you are a soulless, devil polluter if you don’t use cloth diapers. It goes on and on and on…
It’s no different with military wives. They are just as snippy, competitive and nasty as non-military wives, maybe even in the same percentages and proportions. Here’s the difference. When you move every few years, it becomes more difficult to make friends. Many people look within the military because it is easier to friend people who are going through exactly the same thing. Military friendships happen much more quickly than non-military out of pure necessity. Think about moving somewhere new, knowing no one, having no family or support system, having small children and a husband who leaves for months at a time. You’re gonna want some friends. Most military bases are in small towns without a lot of people. Most military bases ARE small towns without a lot of people. So, there you are, desperate for some friends in a small town. Now throw in the fact that the overwhelming majority of military members and spouses are young. (War is a young man’s game after all!) This is a recipe for drama, and good gosh almighty is there ever some drama!
There are cliques. Aren’t there always cliques no matter what you are involved in? And, just like civilian life, there are types. There are career women, there are women who stay at home, there are college students, and there are women who get retail jobs everywhere they go. There are women who love to rock the “military spouse” wear showing anyone and everyone they are a military wife. There are those that take it all in stride. There are those who obsess over rank. There are those who couldn’t care less. But, of all these types, the absolute worst, are the ones who think the way they live their life is the best and they absolutely MUST lecture every other type of wife on what they are doing wrong. And so comes the term, dependpotamus. See because in the civilian world, you are a wife. In the military, you are a dependent. It’s not supposed to be a negative thing. It’s supposed to be a classification that the military uses to determine things like the size of house a soldier needs when he moves, or how much per diem he is entitled to during a move. Military spouses, however, have determined to use it as a slur. Yeesh!
This brings me back to bullying. Bullying is a childish game where a person, or persons, try to exert their will on someone else by belittling, teasing, taunting, or physical aggression. “Hey, we’re just joking around here. Nobody’s getting physical!” Maybe not, but a lot of somebody’s are belittling, teasing and taunting to get other people to change their ways. What do you think those trash-tastic FB rant pages are all about? You know the ones (I won’t name them because I am not promoting them) where they go to other FB pages and screen grab other women’s posts and then trash talk the crap out of them? They draw pictures and call names and snark and call people out. Sounds a lot like middle school, really!
I happened on one, by misplaced click, where a woman went on a military wives support page at the beginning of the shutdown and expressed how worried she was about her husband not receiving a check. Sounds pretty legit, right? Apparently not to one of her fellow “supporters” on the page who screen grabbed the post, reposted it on a rant page, called the woman a “dependa” and said she should get a job herself instead of spending all of her husband’s money. Um, excuse me, what year is this? Her husband’s money? Like I said, bringing the mommy wars to a whole new level. In the civilian world, she would be a stay at home mom. In the military world, she’s a mixture of a dependent and a hippo. Wow! So much for support!
You know, to a point, I get it. It amazes me how young a lot of these women get married and how quickly they start having kids. I think it’s kinda crazy! But, you know what? Not my life. They are adults, maybe barely and I definitely advise my teen not to do it, but it’s still their decision to make. Not mine. I also giggle to myself when I see hooah hooah Army wives all covered in camo and bragging about being a military wife. But, I would have done that too if I got married to my Army man so young. Being young is about being larger than life. And who doesn’t change their FB status if they get engaged? Who doesn’t talk excitedly about their new husband and how awesome he is? Shoot! When I got engaged, I talked with my left hand for at least a week. I wanted everyone to see my ring! It may be more subtle, but it’s not much different. I don’t run around displaying my Army wife status, but I did put it up on this blog that I am an Army wife because I am proud of my husband and it lets you know a little bit about me. That’s kind of the point of the blog, I’m sharing. My subtlety about being a military wife probably comes from getting married in my early 30’s. You do things differently in your 20’s than in your 30’s than in your 40’s than in your…
It’s also funny, and somewhat irritating, to me how some wives wear their husband’s rank. However, this is not something unique to the military world. Over the course of twelve long weeks, one of my undergrad professors told our class at least 15 times that her husband was a doctor. We were all duly impressed. This is something you see everywhere and guys are guilty of it too. The funny thing is, the women making fun of the women doing it, don’t seem to realize that it happens everywhere else too. Maybe that’s because they haven’t lived any other life. Ironic, isn’t it?
I think it’s okay to giggle among friends about this kind of stuff, to blow off steam. That’s not what is happening here. Oh, those participating in these trash talking pages can claim that it is the same thing all they want to, but it’s not. Giggling with your bestie over something stupid that was said to you, or something ridiculous you saw posted, is completely different from screen grabbing someone’s post and publicly ridiculing them. “But we blacked out the names!” I’m sure that will totally keep them from knowing that you are posting about them on a page with thousands of members. Then, when they read the awful things that total strangers are saying about them, it will not make them feel bad at all because, hey, you blacked out their name! Good job! “Well, they shouldn’t have posted something so stupid in the first place!” Awesome, so now you’re the stupid police. Yes, it was ridiculously stupid for someone to ask for support on something labeled a “support page” and not expect to be ridiculed instead. What a buffoon!
I have my opinions about things. I have my opinions about people. They are not always nice. Sometimes, they are downright mean. That’s why I don’t tell the person. That’s why I don’t try to humiliate them. Does that make me better than these people? No. I probably shouldn’t think a lot of the mean stuff I do in the first place. But, while it’s hard to control my thoughts, it’s easier to control my mouth. I choose to use my words to help, as best I can. I choose not to use my words to purposely hurt. That doesn’t make me a better person, but it darn sure makes me a nicer one. Middle school, high school, military life, civilian world, workplace or church – it doesn’t matter. Mean girls suck. Be nice, people! That’s all I’m saying.