So, your husband is a (Insert Rank Here). That is awesome. What an accomplishment. He has earned my total respect, admiration, and gratitude for making such a lengthy and successful career serving our country. And I am not saying that he could have done any of this without you, or that you do not deserve some of the credit. However, simply because your husband is of a higher rank certainly does not earn you the right to treat anyone as if they are beneath you.
Oh dear, am I embarking on the disruption of an age-old tradition of military ostracization! My husband is in the military, and of course, I would not be here if I did not support that. However, my husband, his job, or rank does not define who I am. I have plenty of accomplishments of my own to be proud of.
In fact, in the circles that I move around in, I can honestly say that I do not even know what rank most of the husbands are, nor do I care. I am more concerned about meeting nice people, making connections for myself and my children, and what it is that makes you an accomplished individual.
Having joined the military as a second career, my husband is considered old for being newly enlisted. However, with an older brother who became a Navy SEAL, and a younger brother, a Staff Sergeant in the US Army, as well as a father that also served, the military was not new to him. Coming from a career where he was usually the youngest, and seniority meant everything, this concept was also not new to us.
Let’s rewind for a moment: my husband was born on the West Coast, the LBC (Long Beach, California), to be exact. He was the third son of four, and still in his preteens when his family made their way back home to Puerto Rico. He would fulfill his education there in both English and Spanish, before eventually returning to the United States. He would first reside in Washington, Maine, and eventually Oklahoma, where he began studies at Spartan Aeronautical School. He started out with the desire to become an airplane mechanic, and ended up becoming a flight attendant.
Tulsa, Oklahoma is home to an enormous maintenance base for American Airlines. He was recruited for flight attendant training and off he went to Dallas, TX. He would eventually get sent to New York’s LaGuardia as his first base, like many new hires, and that is where our paths crossed.
I grew up in the state of Ohio, the oldest of four daughters. In high school, I was an artist and a writer. I was the feature editor for our school paper, a member of the Art Club, and The Writer’s Club. I had numerous works displayed, and even won an award in the Ohio’s Governor’s Art Exhibition. The first “real” job I ever had was shelving books at the public library. I also did some modeling, mostly promotional, which continued through my early twenties. When I was 19, I moved to Maryland on my own, following my dream of living near the ocean. I did attend college on and off, but put my degree on hold. I chose the skies to complement my love of travel, and became a flight attendant. I first worked for a small regional carrier, in Salisbury, MD. I then continued on to a major carrier in New York.
Life could not be better. I met my husband in 1999. We married in 2001. We lived by the beach on Long Island. We worked together and travelled the world together; our lives seemed perfect.
In the after-math of 9-11, the glamour of being a flight attendant quickly changed to great challenges in a changed world.
After several years of exorbitant New York rent, in 2004 we decided to move to my native home, Ohio. We began the arduous task of commuting to New York. It was challenging; both the uncertainties of flying stand-by and the lack of control over many other aspects. We bought our first home, which we spent several years renovating, and eventually decided to start a family.
Although my husband was supportive in the decision-making process, I never thought about how my career as an international flight attendant would fit into motherhood, or how my not having a career would fit into the economics of our family. It was also tough to lose my independence as a working woman.
In the end I resigned, and though it was the most challenging decision I have ever made, I can honestly say that it was the right one. I know that our children deserved nothing less, and as the end of my maternity leave approached, I knew that I could not return to work. Looking back and even attempting to read my own words here now, brings tears to my eyes. However, watching our children as they grow has made motherhood the greatest reward and career of all. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by and…” I would like to think that my being here has made all the difference.
At the end of 2010, a crumbling airline industry, several threats of being laid-off, and the exhaustion of commuting taking its toll, he made the decision to take a military leave (For up to five years- two more to go) and join the army. Now it was my turn to be supportive.
That brings us to the here and now. We are both parents, students, soccer mom and dad, volunteers, a soldier, a wife, a husband, a social connector, optimistic travelers of the world, looking for our next adventures.
And after at least 12 encounters, in which you seem utterly unable to remember my name, and have misplaced my phone number twice, I get what’s going through your mind. And you could not be more wrong.
Be careful not to judge. You never know where a person may have been before your paths crossed.
Wear his ring, NOT his rank. We are not JUST military wives. We have lives too. And we have much to offer. We have skills, talents and personalities that make us unique and valuable individuals on our own.