I can almost guarantee if you're a military spouse the plan you had for crafting your life might not quite be the way it is going or has gone. If you would have asked me in the beginning, the plan I had in no way resembles where I am today.
When I met my husband we were 16 and 17 years old. He graduated high school, and college, and went on through Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC). I graduated high school, went to college part time, and worked. My first significant job was at JCPenney in the shoe department. From there, I got recruited to work for Banister Shoe (a division of Nine West Group, Inc.). I worked at Banister as a manager until Kevin got his orders to our first duty station, Fort Hood, TX. I wasn't done with college; I didn't have any part of a degree, and now I wouldn't have a job. This was not how I envisioned my life.
Fortunately, I was able to transfer to a Nine West Group, Inc. store in Austin, TX. I went ahead and moved down in advance because he had to attend Officer Basic Course (OBC) at Fort Sill, OK. After a few months in Austin working at the shoe store, I was recruited by Old Navy. I went to work for an Old Navy in Temple, TX. I was moving up in the world! My drive was considerably less and my pay went up as well. A few more months went by and I earned the General Manager position at the Old Navy in the Killeen Mall, right outside of post. I still had this nagging feeling of failure from not finishing my degree. I had left college when I left Missouri and didn't really want to work retail the rest of my life. Still, the money was good and Kevin and I had started our new life together.
Along the journey I think I lost part of me. I know the money was good. I know it kept me busy when Kevin was away. But, I also knew I didn't want to do retail forever. I knew that I wasn't ever seeing my husband even when he was home because I worked so much. Ultimately, I knew that I had to do something different if we wanted a family. This military lifestyle didn't indulge him to being able to raise a family without someone a bit more stable around. I knew with the job I had I couldn't offer that stability either. We chose the Army as our life and a family was our dream. Someone had to make a change.
The day we chose the Army as our "career" I told my husband there was no going back. I quit my job and registered for classes. Within the next two years I was ready to graduate college, and I was pregnant. I was able to leave my job at the bank to stay home to raise our daughter because Kevin had gained enough rank, we had a few pay raises, and were able to make it without me working. It was picture perfect, or was it? I was miserable. It wasn't that I didn't love our daughter. It just wasn't what I had planned, and I'm a planner.
Getting out of the military at that point wasn't an option for our family. We needed that stability and we had built everything we had in the past five years to be able to do the very thing we were doing right then. So why was I so unhappy?
I know why now. I didn't have anything of my own. I could take care of Wrena and the house with my hands tied behind my back. The type of personality I have lends itself to needing someone to tell me I'm doing a good job and that they appreciate me. I know you know as well as I do babies don't say "hey thanks mom, you're doing a good job, I appreciate you, here's your annual raise." I couldn't in my right mind go back to work and justify working just to pay for daycare.
I decided the only way I would be happy is if I worked for myself. Through a long drawn out journey that very decision is what brings me to you today. I started an internet business that led to several other internet businesses that eventually led me down a path that ran straight into the idea of Army Wife Talk Radio. The rest is history. I now work from home as founder of Army Wife Network, host of Army Wife Talk Radio, and recently finished our upcoming book 1001 Things to Love about Military Life. We have two little girls now and Kevin is six years from retirement. Through perseverance and arming myself with resources and knowledge I have managed to find some sort of balance between family, work, and Army life.
My point in all of this is to tell you that you just never know what you'll end up doing. So don't give up on your journey. Don't give up on making this life work for you. Be flexible and open minded. Like I said, if you would have asked me fourteen years ago, the plan I had was nothing like where I am today - but I wouldn't have it any other way.
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