Work Life vs. Marine Wife

Balance

Please welcome Anna Maria Manino, a marine wife and full time working woman.  She’s also the BSF Co-Director of Communications.

I’m sitting at my desk on a Thursday afternoon, trying to ignore the snail’s pace of the clock. Suddenly my cellphone rings and it’s my White Knight. My excitement at a break from the boredom quickly fades. Since it’s a holiday on Monday, he explains, his unit is now off for the weekend and they are celebrating with a barbeque – at our house. Can I leave early today, he asks, and can I take the rest of the week off.

The answer, of course, is no, I can’t. And no matter how many times he calls and asks similar questions, the answer is always the same – I have a job, which means I can’t be on hand to play hostess any time of day. And this was not the only time having my own source of income seemed more annoying that it’s worth.
Ignoring the hassle of figuring out where I should claim residency on our taxes (a rant in and of itself), there are dozens of reccurring times when my job gets in the way. There’s the award ceremony that I’m almost late to because a work meeting ran long (“If you’re late, you’re f. . . .” as the saying goes in the USMC.). There’s the Hail and Farewell I have to leave early to go back to my office, and while making my apologies to the CO, his wife good-naturedly teases me about having to return to work.
But more than that, there’s also all the “me” activities that I just can’t seem to find time for. Like going to the gym, keeping in touch with my oft-missed friends from life before “Marine wife,” the dozens of unfinished craft projects that I used to love, and even just sitting around by myself doing nothing.
I can totally see how many women choose to not work outside the home. I have spent lots of time daydreaming about having hours upon hours to myself, to fill with errands and leisure in whatever order I decide.
However, there’s also a certain amount of fulfillment I get from having a job, doing it well and contributing financially to our lifestyle. And for all of the military wife-related duties, I am fortunate that my work is very understanding. So for now, I guess I’ll just keep saying “no” to skipping out of work early, keep showing up just in time for those award ceremonies, and keep finding time for “me” whenever I can.
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2 Responses

  1. Anna,
    While I agree that juggling a career and being a military spouse has many challenges – mostly the last-minute change of plans phone calls – please understand that your comment-

    ” I can totally see how many women choose to not work outside the home. I have spent lots of time daydreaming about having hours upon hours to myself, to fill with errands and leisure in whatever order I decide.”

    -may offend those who have made a choice to not join the workforce.

    As an Army wife of 9 years, I can say I have had it both ways, working in my career field, meshing 60 hour weeks to his endless hours and cutting out many leisure activities to make room for other Army obligations.

    For the last few years I have been a full time SAHM, caring for our two girls, the home, the activities, the “Army stuff” and volunteering close to 30 hours a week to lead parenting groups, organizing food drives at church, serving as president of our Women’s Club, creating a neighborhood cookbook and photo books for departing families, editing a school and FRG newsletter, teaching AFTB courses and Red Cross classes —- the list goes on. I too daydream of ‘leisure time’ as a full-time volunteer.

    Perhaps the difference is that I have chosen this path and can select the activities I am involved with to be fulfilling and personally/professionally challenging rather than tasks and timelines dictated by a boss. My benefits are certainly not financial at this time, but knowing that I am making the right choice for our family (as you are for yours) is the only reward I need.

    Paid or unpaid, we all seek to find a balance in our lives between work and play. I hope we can all find it!

  2. Great piece. The Corps culture often does not bend to accomodate working spouses. I recently received an invite from my husband’s CO’s wife for a coffee at 10 on a Thursday. “No kids” the invitation read. Basically, if you’re working you won’t be able to attend … and if you can’t find a sitter for your kids you can’t attend. The timing of the invite already alienates a majority of spouses. As a military community we need to bond together – I RSVP’d with my regrets and a suggestion for an evening/weekend event that would accomodate more spouses. We’ll see …

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