Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Watch for rotten tomatoes as they're hurled towards me!

I'm having a bit of trouble today with this post. I've been agonizing over how to put this without sounding like a complete cold hearted witch. It's totally not going to happen. I'm going to sound terrible no matter how I put it, so here goes.

Last night I watched a piece on the news about a military family made up of two service members and a baby who appeared to be about a year old. They were interviewing the father because the mother was on deployment. They talked about how hard it is to be a "single" parent, even while you are married, the long separations, (that family had been together a total of 8 months in three years), how the child didn't know who Mommy was because she'd been gone so long, etc. It went on like that for a while.

I have a problem, mostly because they didn't point out any of the positives. Because they focused mainly on the negative aspects of being a military family it sounded more like whining than anything else. It sounded like "Feel sorry for us. Our life is hard." I don't think that most military families have the "feel sorry for us" attitude that this family was made out to have. I'm not even sure it was the family's fault. A lot happens on that editing room floor. I'm rambling now. I'll get to the point.

This piece tried to get pity from the public for the family. Military families don't want pity. We don't want people to feel sorry for us. I don't want you to look at me and say "aw how rough." It has been rough, but that's life. It's the life my husband signed up for. When we got married, I agreed to be a part of that life, and make those sacrifices with him.

I'm tired of the media making it out like we all want hand-outs and tears, because we don't. I'm not sure I can tell you what we want, but I do know I'm tired of getting that "poor you" look when people ask about my husband. I'm not poor, I'm not unloved, I'm not unhappy. It really sucks sometimes when he's gone, but he's doing it for a good reason. I hope someday I can teach my son that we don't get to be pitied because of what Daddy does for a living. We are just normal people trying to live a normal life, we are not better or worse-off than anyone else. We don't expect sympathy. We just live. Day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute.

I also have an issue with this piece, because they were trying to extract EXTRA pity for having a family with two military parents. If there are two military parents in that family, and they have spent 8 months together in the last three years, they should count themselves in the lucky few. Many families with two military spouses spend only weeks together each year, when they can manage to coordinate leave. They should be happy that they've gotten to spend such a large amount of time together.

My family, with only one service member has spent no more time together than they have. Our child knows who Daddy is only because we've worked really hard at it. I've flown half way around the world twice with the baby in order to be sure that the baby and Daddy get some bonding time. Daddy spent hours and hours taping himself reading stories so that I could play them for the baby in hopes that he would recognize Daddy when he came home, hoping that he would remember his face and his voice. Daddy didn't get to see many of his firsts in person either, but he's not going on National TV to complain about it. We have spent no more time together as a family than they have. Our lives are no different, but you don't see me calling up Channel 8 to tell them how rough I have it, and please feel sorry for my baby and I.

If you really want to know, my husband and I have been married for 5 1/2 years, but we've lived together for about 2 1/2 years; 6 months in Rhode Island when we were first married, and a few months together here and there for the rest of our marriage. I have spent most of our marriage alone, dealing with things on my own. I have replaced a kitchen floor, redecorated a house, managed to carry toilets up stairs, and install them, moved half-way across the country, delivered and raised a baby all on my own, and traveled half-way around the world and back... twice. ALL of that I did with help from friends and family, but mostly by myself. And I don't ask for pity. I am a stronger person for it. We have a friend whose seen his wife even less than Husband has seen me. I don't see her on the national news complaining. Another friend of mine has an awesome career, and if she wants to live with her husband, she'll either have to start over every time he moves, or give it up. A third friend is having to deal with trying to explain to her son about deployments because her husband has returned to sea duty. ALL military families do this. We all make these sacrifices without asking for anything in return, least of all, pity. It's just what we do. It's just who we are.

Oh, and the toilet? I did that one ALL BY MYSELF. And if you've ever carried a toilet, if you know me, you're probably laughing right now trying to figure out how in the heck I got the darn thing up the stairs, into our tiny master bathroom, and onto the teeny tiny little bolts in the floor.


Bakersfunnyfarm said...

No tomatoes here, girl. I agree wholeheartedly with you 100%!!! There's way too many people these days that think they deserve special treatment for circumstances they have chosen for themselves!


Elisabeth said...

I think you (and military wives everywhere) are amazing people. I agree with you 100%. It does suck. It is sad. But you knew what you were in for and you deal. Like "normal" people.

Kudos for posting that!

Elisabeth said...

PS- Military husbands are awesome too!

Vanessa said...

And military kids. Because technically, THEY didn't sign up for that life. But they deal with it too. I mean look at me, I turned out okay, and I never asked for special treatment, I never freaked out 'cause my dad was gone a lot. Well, maybe I did, but I got over it, because it was something that was "normal" for my life.