Published Work

Veterans Day through the Eyes of a Veteran’s Wife

 

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On November 11, our nation’s veterans will be offered deals, discounts, and free meals at local restaurants. There will be memorial ceremonies, celebratory dinners and an extra day off for some. It’s the one day of the year that Americans take a minute to stop and say “thanks” to those who have served our country.
But what most Americans don’t think about is how life is for our nation’s vets and their families the other 363 days out of the year (because let’s not forget that most people think Memorial Day is a day to thank veterans who are still alive as well . . . but that’s a story for another day).
I am not one of these people. My finger is on the pulse of America’s veteran community. I am the wife of an Army veteran (who is now a Veteran’s Service Officer), the granddaughter of two WWII vets, a niece to a Vietnam vet, and a friend to many others who have served.
So for me, Veterans Day is perhaps something entirely different than it is for those who have no ties to the veteran community. I’m not saying someone without a veteran in his or her life don’t deserve to celebrate or honor the holiday; however, I carry a different perspective on the holiday than most.
To me, Veterans Day is something we should be celebrating not just one day per year, but every day of the year.
We should be helping our homeless vets find housing all of the time. We should be offering them job training and hot meals every day of the week. We should be reaching out to the vets in our communities to offer them rides to doctor’s appointments or to pick up their medicine for them at the pharmacy.
We should all be helping our veterans with the mental health issues that they battle, not just on Veterans Day, but every single day of their lives. We should always be cognizant of the alarming suicide rates among veterans and putting programs and resources together to help prevent the loss of 22 of our veterans per day. More than one day per year we should be extending a helping hand to our veterans who are contemplating becoming a part of this growing statistic.
We should be looking out for the families of our veterans, too. We should look out for the young widow with two children under the age of five who just lost her husband and now has no income, no home, and no partner. We should be extending a helping hand to the elderly woman down the street who lost her son in Vietnam and has no grandchildren to come cut her lawn in the summers. We should be taking our daughter’s young friend with us dress shopping for the school dance, because as much as she’d like her mom to take her, she is currently serving overseas and won’t be able to do so.
I know all of these things because I’ve lived through many of them myself. I’ve seen friends lose their husbands to war and suicide and have nobody there to help them pick up the pieces. I’ve seen members of my family who are veterans struggle to find work for years after returning home. I’ve seen families break apart because the stress of deployment and the aftermath that follows that destroys the relationship of the parents beyond repair. I’ve seen how much PTSD and TBI can change a person into someone you don’t recognize.
For those of you who have no idea what it is like to either be a veteran, be married to one, or be the best friend of one, please understand that your free meal, your oil change discount, or your 50% off coupon are appreciated, but there is so much more that you could be doing for our veterans during other times of the year.
Most will stop to say “thank you” on November 11, but the very next day, go on with their lives.
I will attend the local Veterans Day ceremony at our veteran’s park in town. Then I will probably go out to eat with my husband at one of the many places he can get a free meal that day. But then, we’ll come home to our two young boys and we will continue our daily lives. He won’t stop being a veteran at midnight the day after Veterans Day.
The mother of a soldier I knew won’t be having her son come through her door magically at midnight.
That couple I know from up the street won’t fall back in love and get remarried and raise their son together when the clock strikes 12:00.
And my husband will never see the pieces of his soul he had to leave in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to make it back alive. They are gone. They will never return.
Not even on Veterans Day.

Originally published on Her View From Home

Published Work

I Saw You Today, Frazzled Mama

 

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I saw you today, mama. You had pulled into the neighbor’s driveway and were yelling at your kids to hurry up and get inside because you were already late for the party. I watched you as you scrambled out of the driver’s side door and grabbed the present from the trunk of your car. You were at my neighbor’s house for what appeared to be a birthday party of some sort. I watched you as you straightened your pants and ran your fingers through your hair like a comb. You looked flustered. Even from a distance, I could see it. You were scrambling. You were obviously late. As you walked up the steps behind your children, who were already ringing the doorbell, I saw it. You stiffened your back and put on a smile as my neighbor opened her door to greet you and your kids. Then you were gone into the confines of the house, probably smiling through some kind of secret pain or uncomfortableness that you couldn’t let show in this social setting.
You know what, mama? It’s ok.
It’s ok that you felt the need to pretend – to plaster that smile, straighten your back, to ready yourself before entering that house. You needed that moment. I get it. I’ve been there.
I don’t know the dynamics of the friendship or social connection you have with my neighbors. Maybe your kids are friends with theirs, maybe you are co-workers or your husbands play golf together, I have no idea. But, for whatever reason, you needed a minute before you went into that house to gain your composure first. And I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely fine.
Moms are expected to have it all together. We’re expected to know what time the bus drops off the kids, how much medicine to give, who has appointments when, to memorize grocery lists and field trips dates. Then we’re expected to work – either in or out of the home. Not to mention our duties as a wife, daughter, sister or friend. And we’re expected to do it all while looking and acting perfect all of the time.
It’s a lot.
The weight that we bear as not only mothers, but women is enormous. Societal roles and expectations on us are quite high and also insane. Sometimes it can all be overwhelming. Often it is.
None of us are perfect. You should know that, mama. You should know that no matter what was on your mind that day as you walked up my neighbor’s pathway, that it didn’t matter what you looked like, how your kids were acting that day or what you were going to talk to the other parents about at the party.
All that matters is that you were there, with your kids at the party. You had gone through the trouble of buying the birthday boy/girl a present. Who knew if they’d like it? But you had put the effort in. I’m sure it was appreciated by my neighbors and hopefully their child.
In a world full of birthday parties and playdates, I hope you know that some of us other moms see you. We see the effort you are putting in. We see the tiredness behind your eyes and the sweat upon your brow from carrying that baby all day. We know because we’re right there with you – making sure it all gets done so our families can have the best life possible. We know you bought your husband his favorite turkey at the deli so he’d have food for his lunch tomorrow. Or that you bought the strawberry Pop-Tarts for your son’s snack at school because another flavor is not an option. Heck, we even know you walked the extra 20 feet to the pet aisle to buy the cats their favorite soft cat food.
You look out for your family.
We all know this because we are you. We moms are all in this together. Granted, there are some that like to poke fun or belittle others. To make them feel insignificant because they don’t feed their kids entirely organic or whatever the latest trend is. Those aren’t the kind of moms I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the moms like you and me. The ones that have good days and bad days. The ones that skip shaving our legs for more days in a row than we care to admit because the baby is up from his nap too soon. The mom that eats the crusts off the baby’s toast because he won’t eat that part. The ones that just want to sit and watch an episode of “This is Us” for one hour alone each week. The ones that both love and hate play dates. The ones that sometimes miss the days before motherhood, but at the same time couldn’t live in a world without our kids. Those ones. That’s who we are. You are too.
Just know that you are seen. Whether it is the mom across the street observing you from a distance or the mom with a screaming baby in the grocery store – we are all in this together. Solidarity in this wonderful journey called motherhood.

Originally published on Her View From Home