My hands shook as I read the letter for the fourth time, trying to wrap my mind around what it was saying. “Effective immediately, the Childhood Development Center will no longer provide hourly care or drop-in services”. Due to the Federal Hiring Freeze, there weren’t enough providers to go around, and priority had to be given to children with dual military, single, or working parents.
Of course the priority had to go to them; it makes sense. There has to be childcare for those with no one at home. I tried my best to force my logical side to take over, but the emotional side of me, and my sinking stomach, refused to let go of my thoughts. There goes my sanity.
My husband isn’t deployed – yet. But like so many others, especially of a certain rank, especially in certain jobs, he is never home. He. Is. Never. Home. The life of a military spouse is often lonely, and pats on the back are given to those who have to endure on the home front while their spouse is deployed to a foreign land. When they are home, you’re told to buck up, and just be thankful that they are sleeping next to you every night. That’s the logical side. But then the emotional side screams again, refusing to be silenced: But he’s never home!! The house, and every chore and worry that goes with it, are ours as spouses to take care of from before the sun comes up to well after it has gone down. Breakfasts, school drop offs, dinners, bathtimes, bedtimes, weekends, holidays, are all done alone or co-parented on a case-by-case basis. It’s not their fault; they aren’t workaholics. They are busy, their time is demanded, and they can’t say no. They come home and we force ourselves to smile because hey, at least they are walking through the door to us, right? Except for those weeks and months of TDY. And when they are deployed, it’s all of that plus the constant worry.
For us spouses at home, the days are long and lonely, and the jobs and careers are hard to come by. Or maybe there just isn’t money for full time daycare; perhaps our choice has been to stay home. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need a break, a couple hours a week for our children to play and have fun while we clean the house, or pay the bills, or let our mind and bodies rest for a few precious moments. On a military base, grandmas are not here to care for the children, babysitters and date nights are hard to come by, and everyone else is in the same boat you are. Those precious few hours of being able to drop the kids off to play have been our lifeline to sanity in a world where literally nothing, from where we live to when we move, is in our control. And now it’s gone, maybe not for long, but no one can say.
“Suck it up, buttercup,” they will say. “You chose to get married/ be a spouse/ have children/ have a career in the military. Stop whining.” And maybe they are right, about all of it. None of us want to be told we are whining, and that’s why we often suffer in silence. So I’ll whine here, out loud, for those other spouses who got letters today saying one more thing has been taken from them, albeit small, in the name of service to the country.