|Brandon and I at Seven Falls. This was a couple months after we first moved to Colorado Springs.|
I remember my very first unofficial social as a military spouse. It was January, and Brandon and I were just married the month before. We PCSed (permanent change of duty station) to Fort Carson, CO the prior November, and were new to the unit. One of the soldiers hosted a house party, and we were invited. Brandon and I spent our entire 14-month-long engagement on opposite sides of the country; he was in Georgia while I was in Arizona. So, I wasn’t around for any balls, dining outs or other socials until that point. It wasn’t until after we were married when I got my first, real taste of military life even though he had already been in service for 1.5 years.
At the house party, I remember the guys hung outside like it was 80 degrees. I desperately wanted to be out of the frigid Colorado air, but I stayed with the guys and clung to Brandon’s side like my life depended on it. I didn’t know where else to go. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to the wives who were inside huddled warmly around the dining room table. What would I say to them? Back then, I didn’t know the first thing about the army. Those women had much more experience than I. I was this newbie. What if they asked me a question about Brandon’s job? I definitely didn’t know how to answer. How was I to act? I hadn’t thought about any of this before heading out earlier that evening, but it suddenly hit me once I arrived. I was in a whole new realm of life that made me feel very fish out of water.
Over the years, the military spouse title fit like a hat too big and clunky for my head; always off-center no matter how much I fiddled and straightened. I’ve tried learning the most common army acronyms. I’ve tried remembering insignias and names. I’ve read military spouse books and articles. While I’ve picked up stuff along the way, I still don’t have all the answers. After 8 years, I still get intimated when talking to other military wives about military life because they always seem to have their answers carefully banked liked a meticulous filing cabinet.
Sometimes when I’m talking to another spouse, the conversation flows great about our kids and families. We get going good and it feels nice to finally talk to another adult. But then she always turns to me wide-eyed and interested, and asks, “So what’s your husband’s MOS?” Perspiration usually builds as I stare back blankly. I still panic when I’m asked this very common question. I simply don’t want to talk about my husband’s job and it makes me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because I fear saying the wrong thing and being judged. I never ask another spouse what her husband does. If the other spouse talks about her husband, she usually divulges enough details which leads me to conclusions. I don’t want to appear rude or uninterested, but I guess I don’t know enough military jargon to ask her the right questions. I still don’t know much about the army.
So I don’t have all the answers. I’m just an imperfect human like everybody else. But I’m learning. Every day I’m learning. I take on numerous volunteer opportunities mostly to give back to the military community, but also to challenge myself, my knowledge, and what I’m capable of. In the words of Robert Tew, Challenge yourself every day to do better and be better… Growth starts with a decision to move beyond your present circumstances. So I’m moving forward. Because as a military spouse I have immense pride for my husband and in our armed forces, and I’m going to do what I can to expand my knowledge. I’m showing up to life.
And for inquiring minds like myself, MOS stands for Military Occupational Specialty. It's basically, your service member's specialty branch within his/her branch of service. For example, my husband is an infantryman within the Army. So if a spouse asked me, "What is your husband's MOS?" I would say, "Infantry."
I believe that we are all learning as we go. And with the military constantly changing the names of things, it's easy for all of us to get confused and feel ignorant. We're all in the same boat. I'm learning that even the most seasoned spouses are constantly having to look up information because they don't have all the answers, either.
As a military spouse, have you been in a military situation in which you felt like the most ignorant person in the room? What materials have helped you learn military jargon?