The closer that we get to deployment day, the more I realize that my independence is going to be challenged. I am used to doing things on my own. I am very self-motivated, and usually don’t need others to push me through life’s obstacles. That is not to say that I don’t know how to work in a team (this is pretty much my daily life at work), but when it comes to personal issues I have always been good at managing things on my own. At least, I think I am- says the independent woman in me.
Well, when you become an Army wife, you instantly become part of a network of people that is unlike any other. It is a place where you attend things because that is part of your duty as a wife. (The feminist in me just starts screaming…) You don’t really “deal” with life on your own. This was super hard for me to adjust to. Most of you know Tom, and know that he has a strong personality, but never is he really able to tell me what to do. Nor am I able to really tell him what to do. We work things out together and compromise. We just do what we need to do to be awesome, simple as that. So naturally, being “told” that these “wife” meetings are supposed to be my job kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be there to support my husband just as he has supported me through my work. Needless to say, getting used to being the “dutiful” wife has been an adjustment. And maybe I am having a harder time with it because I still have yet to move into the world of an army base where this is just every day life. I am sure that I will be so grateful and relieved when I actually do move for this support network to be in place. And what I am saying may sound like I am unhappy with this group, which is not the case. I do appreciate being kept in the loop since Tom’s world is about to be turned upside down. And these women know the best way to be of support not only to our partners but also to each other. I am just not used to my husband defining who I am, and this is a huge adjustment for me to make. I mean my life’s work is all about respecting everyone’s individuality and being your own person. So when I hear these messages from the Army like “Oh your wife could move here with you to work at the pool” you can see how there could be some frustration and some “You don’t know me!” attitude going through my head.
God knows me best though, for He keeps having the Army throw little life lessons at me to get out of my stubborn independent ways. For example, last week I received an email from Tom’s Platoon Sgt’s wife. She was letting me know that any time that I am not at my permanent address that they have on file that I need to make her aware of those trips. At first I was really frustrated because I felt like part of my personal freedom was taken away, and I was back under my parent’s house/rules. I mean really? I am 27, and I have to report when I go on a trip with an address, time, and all other specific details? However, the more I thought about this network and their role, the more I understood the importance of these details. And then the somberness of it hit me. They will need to be able to notify me if something happens to my husband. Bam. Nothing like doom to bring you down a peg. So it is moments like these that bring me back to reality that I am not in this deployment by myself, no matter how much I try to handle it on my own. And ultimately, it’s not about me. Life lesson…done.
And in the spirit of team, student staff training began this week, which brought on all kinds of team goodness. Yes, we did the human knot and answered personal questions off a ball. All week, I have been preaching to my staff about how they are not alone and that the team is their biggest asset, and many other teamy one liners like that. ( I should really listen to my own advise huh?)
I will say that this is one team that I have no problem utilizing to the full extent. I have a great group of colleagues that I know that I can call for help at any time. I also am fortunate to work with some of the best students on campus. I am biased I know, but they are a pretty cool crew. These are the people that I know will keep me sane and grounded in the upcoming months. Although Tom and I are about to go through the toughest part of our relationship, I know that this team I have here at Iowa State are a wonderful group of people that I can lean on at anytime. I do feel truly blessed to know that I have that support here.
And fortunately, ISU allows for my creative side to come out! I was able to do several “crafts” this week.
One is pretty simple. I miss doing bulletin boards, but I never have time to do them like I did when I was a student. So I carved out some time this summer to make sure I was able to do our opening staff board. Like I said, it is simple, but it was fun to make! And there is a little satisfaction and a “Yes!” cheer going through my head when I see people stopping to read what I put up.
The second project was our end of training event, and by far the most exciting craft to date! It took a little effort from the entire staff, which makes it better than anything I could have made on my own. Plus it was a really fun way to get re-energized and not so bummed after stuffing opening packets for what seemed like a century.
So we started off with a drop cloth from Lowe’s and some duct tape for our words.
My partner at work had some spare syringes from his numerous medical trips which happen to be great paint throwers. We gave one to each staff member and lined the outside of the cloth with bowls of paint. Then you just let them go at it until all the paint is gone.
We let it dry for a couple of days. My advice if you try to do this is to not let it completely dry before you take of the tape. Our paint became crunchy and some was pulled off with the tape, which we don’t think would happen if the paint was still semi-damp.
I think it looks awesome! As my husband put it, this would have been cliche to do in the 90s but since we are doing it in 2012 we are doing a cool throwback.
So now this is a great memento that we have at the desk that helps create a welcoming atmosphere to all of our residents and guests.
And it was a great TEAM effort!