The Sisterhood of the Traveling Wives

Before you think Alexis Bledel has joined a polygamous TLC family in Utah, rest easy.
The sisterhood to which I’m referring is the sisterhood that exists among military wives.

When Hubby and I were dating and went to our first posting location for a few days to check out the PMQ (Private Married Quarters…now called RHUs which stands for Residential Housing Unit….all just a fancy way of saying the military housing on base) we were going to be living in, I had no idea that I was about to enter a secret society. In fact, it took me a few years to really understand what kind of amazing culture I had joined. Sure, it was clear that Hubby was part of a really unique community as a a member of the military. And sure, I met other military wives and girlfriends and that was all great. But it was only once we started moving around and once I became a part-time and then full-time stay at home Mom that I realized how incredible this sisterhood really is.


I have an actual blood sister, N, and she is one of my very best friends. From the day I was old enough to realize her coolness I essentially worshiped her. She is a bit older than me and I used to literally sit on a chair in her bedroom while she slept in on the weekends and wait for her to wake up. And if you know N, you know that mornings aren’t really her thing. And they really, really weren’t her thing when she was a teenager. So the fact that I sat there in the dark with nothing to entertain me really speaks to how much I loved her. Then, when she was finally awake, I would ask her, “How did you sleep?” to which she would reply, “I don’t know! I was unconscious!”. Ah, the good times, eh, N? (You can smack me next time we are together for writing this on a public forum).

But these sisters are different. These sisters are drawn together not by blood but by experiences, by location and lifestyles. We understand each other on a different level. We *get* the whole military wife thing when it feels like no one else does. We have never said, “Well you knew what you were getting into when you married him!” because we have never thought it for even a moment. We may have threatened to throat-punch anyone who has said that to you, however.

After yesterday’s blog post I got a message this morning from a great friend whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. Her hubby and my Hubby went to school together and were very close. She and I get along great although we speak infrequently since we’ve never been posted to the same city and currently live in different parts of the country. But she reached out to me this morning, among the chaos of her own work/home life and a sick baby, to let me know that she *gets it*. She gets my anxiety surrounding Hubby’s deployment and she knows what its like. She gave me practical words of experience and wisdom and made me feel strong but also human. She reminded me that it’s ok to have days that will be amazing and others that are total crap. And while I’ve heard many similar comments from friends and family, it’s different when it comes from a Sister.

Military Sisters seek each other out in social settings. I have many lovely friends here who are not military and I value them and their experiences very much. But when I’m chatting to someone new and we find out we are both military wives, well, there’s just this understanding. This silent “ah, I get you” moment that passes. And if, by some miracle, our hubbies happen to be the same rank or in the same unit, well that’s like the best gravy on an already delicious meal. Then you get to chatting and realize you may have been living in the same town at the same time or your husbands have mutual friends and all of a sudden we’re all talking like Newfoundlanders who are basically the Canadian geographic equivalent of Cheers (the theme song, people, think about the theme song). Seriously, Hubby is  Newfie so I can say this with confidence. Haven’t you ever heard two people from the Island discuss a third person like this, “Oh, Tom? Tom Wheaton? Oh sure, that’s Franky’s boy. You know Franky. He taught third grade to your old neighbour’s girl, Sarah” to which the person replies, “Oh yes, b’y, I know Tom Wheaton! ‘Course I do! Because his new wife’s uncle used to go to school with the man across the road from my father” and then everyone laughs and pats each other on the back and says “Yes, b’y!” a lot more times in many different ways to mean different things.

Now this is not all to say that this Sisterhood, like any sisterhood, is not without its drama. Quite the opposite. If you could see what’s on some of the military spouse facebook groups it can get pretty ugly. And not everyone you meet is going to be your very best gal pal. But most of the time, even when two women may not be the best of friends, they can respect each other’s experiences and appreciate the strength in each other. And sometimes, when you’re very lucky, you meet someone who fits perfectly into your puzzle like she was always meant to be there. And while many friendships are fleeting as we move around the country every few years, sometimes you just know that this one will stick. And you hope and you pray that this won’t be the only time you live in the same city. Or you hope and you pray that it won’t be five more years until you see her.

One of my Sisters! Miss J is a keeper 🙂

So if you are a military wife, thank you. Thank you for reading this and joining me and supporting your sisters. If you know a military wife, thank her. This gig ain’t easy and we don’t expect you to get it but we hope that you’ll try.

And if you ever tell us we knew what we were getting into when we married him, start running, because another sister is coming with a throat punch just for you.

🙂 Mel


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