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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Dependa"-NOT!

I want to share something with the web world that has been bothering me for some time. When I say time, I mean, days...weeks...months...and now, years. There is a title that has been placed upon "Army Wives". I use that term in quotations as to purposely not say spouses-this term has been attached to the women who are married to Soldiers, exclusively and predominately. "Dependa". Oh how that word makes me cringe. Here is a quote from Urban Dictionary:

Dependa-
A person who is married to someone in the service who doesn't just depend on their spouse for financial support, but pretty much relies on them for it. They start out all cute and All-American until after the wedding, then it's like cookies, couch and coach purses. Arguing with other dependas over Facebook all day over who's the bigger dependa. They're generally not educated and have no goals or aspirations in life. They live their lives through their husband's successes and think they rank and are better than "civilians" when they themselves are in face...still civilians.

You can usually find them at the PX and/or commissary like a herd of cattle during every pay period blowing their spouse's paycheck on oreos, Coach and Michael Kors and then complaining 2 days after "they" got paid that they're broke and need someone to deliver them free diapers for their 6th baby. (also see "dependa-twat", "dependasaurus" and "dependapotomus")

-"My husband and I just got married last month, what are some websites that give free stuff to military wives?"
--"Shut up dependa."

-"I got married to My Marine, he's going to take care of me now. No more working at Taco Bell for this girl!" 

This is the stigma that my fellow Army Wife Sisters carry with us every single day. This is the chip on our shoulder. This is why we fear going out in public, wearing the wrong thing, showing too much support or pride, having too many children-you name it.
Now, as you read the above "definition" of a "Dependa", you may think back to the old term-"tag chaser". I used to too...until recently. The above is a very loose description of what "people" believe we are. Let me bring it down to basics, according to the people who throw this term around, basically, if you are Brown DOD Dependent ID Card Holder and not an Army Brat...you're automatically in this category-HOGWASH. Any action you may or may not take on ANYTHING in life, whatsoever, you risk being publically flamed on a variety of social media sites that are dedicated to "outing" us.

I just have to stand up on behalf of my fellow Army Wife Sisters and say that if anything, (from the words of Mollie Gross), I am my husbands INDEPENDENT!

A little over one year after we were married, my husband and I made the joint decision for him to follow his dream of serving in the United States Army. He always wanted to be a Soldier, to fight for his country, to stand up for what he believed in. Coming from a highly patriotic family, I was eager to support him in this decision. I went with him into the recruiters office, I saw the numbers for the E-fuzzy pay and allowances. We understood that by taking this new path in life, with a brand new baby in tow, we would essentially be going from a household with two full time incomes, to one. We took a pay cut. But with this pay cut, we gained stability in a way we could never pay back. We also gained health insurance, something myself and our newborn child did not have due to the high costs through our jobs.  

I say all of this so that you can understand that despite the assumptions of others, I didn't choose to follow my husband "for the money". I chose to follow my husband and support him because I believed in him, our country, and our military. I was eager to join a community of like minded individuals. I was eager to share my pride in my Soldier with anyone and everyone. Not because I wore it as a badge of honor, or because I was bragging. But because my husband decided to make a life altering decision to join an elite group of people who selflessly serve our country in the heat of an ugly war. I was so proud of how strong he was to take himself away from his first born son and young wife, how he was so willing to make enormous sacrifices in support of the greater good. I was also proud of myself. I went into this knowing that the possibility of becoming a young widow was real. I went into this knowing that I would be moved thousands of miles away from everything and everyone I knew, only to be on my own for weeks, months, and years at a time. 

Let me tell you, this life has been anything but easy. But I can promise you that it has guided me and molded me into the woman I am today. I have learned to lean on strangers when the time called for it. I have learned to suck up my pride and ask for help when I no longer feel like I can stand alone. I have learned to stand alone. I have learned to depend on no one else but MYSELF. I have learned what it really means to be INDEPENDENT. I've learned how strangers can become like family. I've managed 2 children, an infant in a carrier, and 8 care packages in a single trip to the post office. I've fixed appliances, fixed broken toys, assembled furniture, unpacked and set up an entire house for 5 and a dog, managed multiple sick kids while feeling like I was on deaths door myself, survived multiple emergency room trips and school funtions with other little ones in tow, wiped tears, soothed night terrors, shared my empty bed with a weepy and emotional toddler, potty trained all 3 of my kids single handedly, managed cross country trips alone with 3 kids under the age of 7-more than once. I mean, I could keep going on with the list, but that's really just besides the point-we've all been there, right? I am not bitter about doing any of these things without the phsyical presense of my husband. What I am bitter about, is being singled out in the world and having been slapped with a label that I don't deserve.

I spend my days, caring for my husband and my 3 children. I wake up at 0400 to make and pack my husband breakfast and lunch, because he will more than likely be working through lunch and not home by dinner time. I fix my kids breakfast and send my oldest off to school. I then start cleaning the house, which will be a repeated chore until my head hits the pillow that night. I will prepare lunch and send my middle child to preschool. I will read stories to my toddler and clean some more while she naps. I will prepare dinner and wash my 3 dozenth dish for the day. I will clean up spills, pick up dog poop, and tend to the yard. Amongst my busy days I still seem to manage a beautiful flower garden where I get a few minutes of peace to myself in the evenings.  Amongst all of these daily tasks, I have still managed to volunteer countless hours to the FRG and other organizations over the year.

Most of all, I stay faithful and supportive to my husband who sacrifices so much more than most men his age. He's missed most all of our children's biggest milestones in life. He's missed countless holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. He's missed saying goodbye to loved ones that he wasn't able to lay to rest. He's been to war multiple times. He's given his body and his mind to the United States Government to honorbly serve to protect this wonderful nation.

My husband is my hero, and I will be damned to walk around with the stigma that I am anything but an honorable Army Wife. I have made sacrifices as well, mostly in secret as to not take away from him. No, the sacrifices I have made over the last 7 years are not even comparable to his and I am FAR from perfect, but they do matter. I matter. All of us matter.

Do not succumb to the derogatory remarks and titles placed upon us. Do not waste your time fretting over this nonsense. Hold your head high, sweet heart, because you, YOU are better than that. You.ARE.Important! You matter. You are appreciated!