So this is my outing as a nascent blogger, often threatened but never followed through – sounds like my obituary!! So please forgive my initial bumblings. I am as the name suggests a Navy Husband, spouse to active duty and stay at home Dad to two darling (read challenging) girls (soon to be 4 and 6). I have been through deployments, work ups, spouse meetings, FRGs, pass offices, potty training, post offices with two toddlers, commissary on pay day…..why the resume? well we are in the minority and I always feel as though I need to proffer my real time experience as a milspouse to be taken seriously. The reality is of course that I feel as welcomed and as valued as any other military spouse, by both service members and spouses alike. So why then do I feel this way?
Societal pressures have something to do with it, my mother’s face when she realized this was my path (“after all that money we invested in your education!”) the rest. What could assuage my feelings of inadequacy, I’ll tell you, more male military spouses. So imagine my surprise when we had one of my wife’s colleagues over for dinner and she, yes she, brought her stay at home husband and three kids (8, 5 and 3).
I have to say I was a little nervous to meet another of my kind, so rare are the sightings of Navy Husbands, and to meet such a prime example of the genus – he has three kids to my paltry two, he has just moved here with no real support structure (he is Australian so no family and they went straight into a deployment), his mini van has a leather interior! Bottom line, once we had established we both like beer, there was no real surprise that the conversation flowed quickly to all things mil spouse – day care, the spectre of summer holidays, tantrums, napping (or lack of it) etc etc etc. The comfort level quickly grew and I realized I should not feel bad about taking this path and that my feelings of inadequacy are exactly that, my own! I am entrenched in society’s convention of what it is to be a man in today’s household (again my mother’s face looms large in my thoughts!) only to realize that the reality of the modern man is something very different. I do not want to generalize as everyone’s situation is very different but in light of everything from men in the delivery room, to increased involvement in rearing our children, to women better navigating the glass maze (thank you BBC documentary for that spin on the old glass ceiling) men’s roles are changing and we should not be afraid to take that step, consider it as an option, get comfortable with it as decision and then reap the rewards.
So how do we achieve this, in the words of SNL, “Volume” – I would like to see the military able to employ more females for longer, retain that experience and training dollars and at the end of the day improve our military’s readiness. So I will continue in my role of male military spouse in the hope that a few more will follow and allow us all to advance societal conventions to a better place.35