(Also known as California...)
When I was a brand new military wife, at our first duty station, and far away from my family, there was another military wife who took me under her wing. She was an "older woman" (probably 32, which at the time seemed so very old) and had two children, probably ages 12 and 2. She seemed to be in such a different world then I was. She knew military terms, had survived deployment, and raising children, and trying to be a mother, wife and employee, all at the same time. These were new to me, and she made them all seem like something I could survive.
She took the time to introduce me to ideas. She had us over for dinner. I babysat her toddler a few times.
I had my 23rd birthday right around the time that I met her, so I wasn't a child, but she seemed so much older then me.
This week I realized that I am now her.
I am the older wife, who has survived deployment, and military moves. I have raised kids in multiple locations, and learned how to make friends wherever I am. I have seen the ability to communicate with a deployed husband evolve, along with the conflicts he has been part of. (Any other of you "old wives" remember when our men had to wait in line to use a phone, with a 15 minute time limit, and video calls weren't even invented yet?)
I am an experienced military wife, who has lived in both the enlisted and officer world, both the Air Force and Army.
I got a reminder of my age a few days ago and it was quite striking.
I recently mentioned the bible study group I am part of, about being a mom. One of my ladies missed our group time last week and I knew her husband was currently deployed, so I texted her, just to check in. Turns out she had ended up in the hospital several times, dehydrated, from Hyperemesis, which is basically really bad morning sickness. Or, in reality, all day sickness.
I already had a soft spot for her. This is her first base, first pregnancy, first deployment.... she has a lot going on in her life right now. Adding Hyperemesis simply broke my heart for her.
But one of my best friends had Hyperemesis during her pregnancy, so I had a walking encyclopedia, ready at hand. I tried to educate myself, and offered my morning to help her out. She needed food that was more likely to stay down (and less damaging if it comes back up) and was feeling too yucky to drive for the last few weeks, so I took her to the grocery, pushed her cart and loaded the heavy water bottles. Super easy, mindless help, mostly just so she would have company.
While we were out Canaan called, to ask what he could have as a snack. After I hung up I joked with her, about my 13 year old always being hungry. Her response, "My 13 year old brother is exactly the same way!" gave me pause though. Her having a brother the same age as my son suddenly made me feel extremely old. And made me realize that she was probably very, very young!
I was right.
She is very, very young.
When I turn 38 in May I will be double her age.
She is only 6 years older then my son.
And I suddenly realized, I am very old. :)
I can't remember the name of the woman who helped me, all those years ago. Facebook had not been invented yet, and we both moved multiple times with military life and lost touch through the years. Her toddler that I babysat, Jacob, would probably be a junior in high school this year.
The reminder that time flies is fresh.
The importance of taking the time to enjoy every moment is pressing.
15 years ago I couldn't have imagined the path we would have taken to end up here. There have definitely been some moments that I stressed too much in the midst of.
But, all these years later, I am so full of memories; of moments that are worth remembering, and celebrating, and rejoicing in what we learned through them, even if they were difficult in the middle.
I am thrilled to be the "older woman".
Let's hope I can live what I have learned in a way that is helpful to these new, young, excited military wives. :)