Who Has It Worse? MilSpouse or MilMom?

>> Wednesday, February 9, 2011

(The following post is being shared with permission from my friend, Emmie)

I had just gotten off the phone with a fellow military wife and friend of mine, Emmie, who is now stationed in Texas. Her husband is currently serving his first deployment in Afghanistan.

Emmie called me in tears and just needed to vent -- vent to someone who's been there and understands.

Emmie's mother-in-law called her tonight just to chat. What started off as a great conversation ended with hurt feelings and words said that cannot be taken back.

Emmie started to tell me that her MIL was upset because she hadn't heard from her son in over a week. No emails, no letters, nothing. She tried to explain to her that sometimes she doesn't hear from her husband for weeks on end, but that she got an email from him that morning and that he was ok. Her MIL wanted her to forward that email to her and Emmie refused. She tried to explain that it was a private email - like a letter - and that it wasn't appropriate to send her the email.

Her MIL started to get upset with Emmie, accusing her of not understanding...that she is his mother and has a right to know what's going on. She went on and on about how hard it is to send a son into war and how she worries every day.

Like Emmie doesn't. Emmie is just the love of his life, his soulmate, the mother of his children.

She told me that half the time she didn't even call her MIL because it always ended with a "poor me" story. There were times when Emmie just wanted someone to listen to HER and not push her concerns aside to tell her about their own trials and tribulations. In her MIL's defense, it could have just been her way of trying to make Emmie feel better because she just didn't know what else to say.

But still, my heart broke for Emmie and I became angry at her MIL for starting this "who has it worse" mind game with her.

While My Marine was deployed, there was a lot that I didn't share with my own mother-in-law or even my own parents. Mostly because I felt I needed to put on a good face that all was well. I also didn't want the "pep talks" that eventually came - "Oh, well when your dad was in the Navy" or "When your FIL was away..." Yeah, yeah....nice, but they weren't in a freakin' WAR ZONE GETTING SHOT AT!  My dad took cruises to Bermuda and the Virgin Island.  My FIL was in Italy and other exotic locales.  I don't recall stories being told of them having to wear body armor just to go take a shower.  You catch my drift?
Don't get me wrong - I know it was just their way of trying to make me feel better (like Emmie's MIL), their way of saying that it wasn't easy for them either.  But sometimes I just wanted someone to listen and to hug me and say that it was going to be ok - and that's it. (Just like Emmie)

They didn't know how many times I hid and cried and had panic attacks whenever I heard the doorbell ring or when I would see our FRG leader's name come up on my caller ID. They didn't know how many nights I would stay up all night watching CNN when it would be days that I didn't get an email or the days I would sit with my daughter in my lap for hours on end looking at pictures of her daddy. Or how many times I wanted to shake someone when I would hear them complain about their husband's being out of town for a weekend at a business convention.  Or the debilitating loneliness that I felt on weekends when all my other friends were spending time with their husbands.

I don't know what it's like to have a child deployed -- and I pray to God that I never do. But I DO know what it's like to have a husband deployed. And while it is a different experience for mothers and wives, there are some things that are the same.

Bottom line -- we are both missing someone we love. We are both worried about the health and safety of someone we love.

And it shouldn't be a game of who has it worse. We both do.

7 comments:

MaryAnne February 9, 2011 at 6:15 PM  

This is so sad. Being a family member of someone in the military is always hard, and it doesn't pay to play this game.

Helene February 9, 2011 at 10:08 PM  

I totally understand where you friend is coming from. It's a situation where you would hope her MIL would unite with her and be more understanding. I mean, they are both missing a loved one, after all.

Bobbi February 10, 2011 at 9:54 AM  

Sadly, the whole "leave and cleave" thing should come from both sides...MIL don't generally get that the "most important woman in his life" role has passed on...and then they play the dumb "who's more important to ya" game. So sad to hear this! WOW...I feel super convicted...I pray for our troops but often forget to pray for their families. I will do better starting NOW!

It's Grace February 10, 2011 at 11:25 AM  

Both scenarios are gut wrenching. Military spouses and families give so much to our country, too. Bless you and your friend for sharing this story. It's a reminder to me to keep the families of those serving in my prayers more often.

And I can't even imagine having a child in the service. Both my kids have expressed interested in becoming Marines like Grandpa and Great Grandpa, but we'll see.

Thanks for linking up today and sharing this.

Erin

Tiffini February 10, 2011 at 3:24 PM  

I don't know what it is like to have someone serving our country...I can't even IMAGINE a husband or my son over there. I have a good friend who had a son over there for a couple of years so I got to share with her heart a couple of times...I pray and feel for all of you...I do know what it is like to experience someone making your pain about them...so hard
xo

Abby February 10, 2011 at 6:36 PM  

Jennifer,

I will tell you this...you all are amazing and just show me how women find strength that i cannot imagine...and i will tell you that i think of two things on the as-of-now fairly rare traveling and nights away that my husband has: single moms/parents, and military wives (husbands)...i know it could be so, so harder...i just don't know how you all do it.

Bless you new friend from Erin's, Abby:)

Anonymous February 10, 2011 at 10:23 PM  

Just curious, where does it say that Emmie's MIL is making a "game" of who has it worse? Maybe, like Emmie, the MIL was just hoping for someone to hug them and say it will be okay. Everyone hurts in those situations, some just express it differently. There is no Game and I feel sorry for anyone that sees it as one.

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