Some days I did not see C for more than 30 minutes.
When I was a student, I would have my classes, work, and internships in the mornings and afternoons with weekends free. However, during those two years, C had to work nights (6pm-6am) including every other weekend. Some mornings, I would set my alarm for 6:30am just to see C for 5 minutes if he wanted to stop by on his way home from work because my apartment was near base. Otherwise, we would not see each other until the weekends he had off, and on those weekends, I would flip my sleep schedule to be nocturnal with him.
Although my professors thought this would hinder my studies, his lack of availability kept me focused on homework on the days I knew he had to work. Unintentionally, his schedule was incentive to not procrastinate so when we could see each other, I could be free of responsibilities. We could just be.
This past year after graduating with my Master’s degree, I have been working 2 to 3 part time jobs 6 to 7 days a week on average of 50-60 hours per week. It was just when I began working weekends that C was switched to a different flight that had every weekend off. Our roles reversed.
Some days I don’t see C for more than 15 minutes.
The complications of our work schedules can be frustrating. We are limited to running errands together on Saturdays when I get off work in the evenings. We cannot hike or do any outdoors activities together because it is dark by the time we reunite in the day. We have to be conscious of when we complete laundry so we do not wake up the other person while trying to put clothes away. And when I cook dinner, I need to plan my meals so we can both eat a hot meal despite the fact that we come home from work five hours apart from each other. It is simple and small tasks that most couples do not view as obstacles, but military couples do.
Some day I won’t see C for months.
To add further frustration, there is always the deployment tempo in the back of our minds. With a short notice, C could receive orders to deploy and then be completely gone for six months at a time in a war zone. This adds pressure to make the most of the time we have together while he is stateside and not PCSing or deploying. It becomes a temptation to simplify our life and quit my jobs to be what the military wants me to be: a dependent.
It is at this point that a military wife finds herself at the fork in the road. One path is simple: stay at home, be a wife and mother, avoid any schedule complications by not going to college and not finding work. The second path: keep busy with work, school, and hobbies because as a military wife you do spend a lot of time apart, especially with deployments, training sessions, retraining, PCSing etc. It is with the second path that you build your own dreams, have some tasks to help pass time quicker while separated, and help relieve some financial responsibility from your significant other who is military.
It is not an easy route to follow. However, the time apart should be used as an incentive to make the most of the time you do have together and the most of the time you have apart. Be an independent-dependent.