I met Adam when I had just about given up on men. After dating guys who didn’t treat me very well, it was a breath of fresh air to meet a true gentleman. We spent about a month getting to know each other through hundreds of emails, but hadn’t met yet. In fact, I was leery about dating him because he was in the military. I didn’t know how that would affect our relationship, but I gave him a chance. After our first real date, I came home and told my mom “I’m going to marry him.” Sure enough, 14 months later, we got married. That’s when my life as a military wife began.
While we were dating, I got introduced to military life. Adam grew up as a Navy brat, so his parents were always telling me little anecdotes about his childhood and what life was like as a military family. He worked for a great unit out at Los Angeles Air Force Base (yes…there IS a base in LA) and I spent a lot of time with his co-workers at parties and work functions. After we had been dating for a few months, he got promoted and I got to attend his ceremony. But, this introduction to military life was nothing compared to being married to the Air Force.
We had a beautiful military wedding on base in Southern California and when we got back from our honeymoon, there was a very important email waiting for us. We were anticipating notification of our next duty station, and there it was. We opened the email, scrolled down a bit and saw “McConnell AFB, Wichita, Kansas”. My first reaction was to laugh. Then I cried.Suddenly, it became all too real. I was a military wife and I was leaving my home. I had lived in California my whole life, all my friends and family were there. I was terrified. And, in all truthfulness, neither one of us knew where Kansas was. All I knew was that it was square and in the middle somewhere. It took a while, but we got accustomed to the idea of a Midwest move, we learned where Kansas really was, and we got excited about it.A few short months later, we were packed out and headed for a three month long training session in Texas, followed by our move to Kansas. We were lucky enough to find a great house in a fantastic neighborhood just 5 minutes from the base. So not only were we moving to a new state, we were also becoming homeowners for the first time.Kansas was nothing like I thought it was going to be. I thought I would hate every minute of it, and I actually ended up liking it quite a bit. We made wonderful friends, I finished nursing school, and we had our first baby. In fact, I went into labor with Jack while at a unit event called “Knuckle Busters”, where they acknowledge airmen who have gone above and beyond. Everyone saw my HUGE belly and asked when I was due. They were shocked when my reply was “tomorrow”. They were even more shocked when we left early due to contractions! Jack was known as the “Knuckle Buster Baby” from that moment on.
We survived through two deployments, one of which left me alone with a 6 month old. But, we persevered. We had some rough times, a lot of California homesickness, and the trials and tribulations of being newlyweds and having a new baby. Eventually we came to call Wichita home, but only for a while.
We lived in Kansas for three years and it was hard to leave. We had come to love our neighbors and friends, Adam loved his job, and I was finally getting used to this whole military existence. I cried when we found out we were moving to Kansas, but I cried a lot harder when we left.
Next, we were off to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Adam had been accepted to the Air Force Institute of Technology to get his master’s degree. This was an ideal tour. It was Adam’s job to go to school. He left every morning, went to classes, studied, and was home at a decent hour every night. I was able to work part-time at a local hospital on the night shift and he was home to care for Jack. It was great!
We had only been there about 6 months when we found out I was pregnant again. Nate was born at the base hospital and we quickly adjusted to life as a family of four. A few months later, both boys were there to see Daddy graduate with his hard-earned degree. It was a short-lived tour, at only 18 months, but we sure did accomplish a lot while we were there! I had my first nursing job, we added another baby to our family, Jack went from a baby to a toddler, and Adam got his masters. We definitely made the most of our time!
After Ohio, we were on our way here, to Virginia. Adam has been working at the Pentagon and we live just 15 minutes outside of Washington DC. While I find Northern Virginia to have too many bugs and bad drivers for my liking, this has been a good tour too. We go to the Smithsonian on a regular basis, the boys know the names of all the monuments, and we are surrounded by our country’s history. Adam’s job has been rough this time around, with extremely long hours and a lot of stress. But, we’ve survived with the help of a good sense of humor and a solid relationship.
I was able to work part-time, thanks to a fantastic babysitter and a wonderful husband who was on Daddy-duty while I worked on the weekend. I got some great nursing experience in and am truly grateful for it. Jack has attended (and just graduated!) a wonderful preschool and is ready for kindergarten. Nate has transformed from an immobile 5 month old into a smart, funny little boy. Adam has had a good work experience, learned a lot, and was promoted to major while here. Washington DC and Northern Virginia have been good to us. Adam and I have loved introducing the boys to their nation’s history and inspiring a sense of patriotism in them (they both snap to attention and salute whenever they see a flag!).
Alas, nothing is permanent in the military and we are prepping for another move. This will be our fifth move in 7 ½ years, but it doesn’t even phase me anymore. I’ve actually gotten to the point of looking forward to moves. About 1½ years into a duty station, I start getting antsy to move on. I went from a horribly homesick California girl to a pretty well-traveled Air Force wife. Who knew?
Adam called me from work back in March, when there was some buzz afloat about possibly moving him early (we were supposed to be here for 3-4 years, but we’re leaving after just 2). At first, they were talking about Arkansas. The next thing I know, he’s asking me what I think about moving to Japan. He told me there was an amazing opportunity, but it was up to me. And, I had to let him know within the hour.
Only in the military do you get an hour to make a life-changing decision like that! I quickly did some research on the area, made sure we could bring the dog, looked at schools, and made a decision.
I’m happy to report that we are now on our way to Okinawa! In fact, the movers get here tomorrow to start the process of packing us out. We have been so busy organizing ourselves so we could sell the house (it sold in 2 days!!) and so the move will go as smoothly as possible. It’s been a whirlwind of activity since that phone call in March, but we are so excited!
We will be leaving Virginia very soon and driving cross-country to visit with both of our families and friends along the way. Then we’ll be heading up to Seattle for our flight to Okinawa!
Needless to say, life as a military wife is full of ups and downs and constant surprises. You never really know what is coming next. It could be a deployment, a new job, a new state, or a new country!
There are definitely some challenges. It is difficult to move so often. Making new friends is always hard for me, especially because I’m plagued with a decent degree of shyness. It is incredibly hard being away from family and not having that support system close at hand. Also, Adam isn’t just mine. I have to share him with the United States military. I joke that he’s married to me, but the Air Force is his mistress. He spends a lot of time at work and is passionate about his job. He takes his mission very seriously and is proud to wear the uniform. My mom joked after our first date that I had found “an officer and a gentleman”. At the time, I thought she was corny. But, 7 years later, I’m happy to say that he has truly turned out to be just that.
While the deployments, frequent moves, and extended times away from Adam are hard, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have an amazing husband, the military takes good care of us, and I have been fortunate enough to travel and live in places I never would have had the reason to even visit. I am truly proud of my husband and what he does, and I am proud to be a military family.
I can’t wait to get to Okinawa so I can introduce you to on our life in Japan and include you all in our latest adventure!
It’s “sayonara” for now, but I’ll update you when we are settled in!
Kelly, Formerly D.C. IT Mom