9.08.2008

Dependable

de·pen·dent (dĭ-pěn'dənt) adj.
1. Contingent on another.
2. Subordinate.
3. Relying on or requiring the aid of another for support
4. Hanging down.

According to the Navy (and I'm guessing the other branches of the military), I am a dependent. My personal information does not matter. When I make a doctor appointment, it is my husband's social security number the ask for. When I need to breathe, it is my hubby that matters. I am an off-shoot . . . like an unneeded appendage . . . of my husband.

There are many things in the land of the military that puzzle me. Some I can understand if I squint really hard and tilt my head and spin in circle very quickly. There are others which I think were created in the 60s by some old men who were "experimenting" with substances.

However, dependent is about the less appropriate word I can think of. Military spouses have to be pretty tough. While you're married, you are essentially a single parent for long stretches of time. And when your hubby or wife is home, they're working long hours, often overnight, and can be called to work at any time. You have to keep a household running like a single parent but still include the absent spouse in your daily life. You are required to constantly remind yourself that he is gone. You learn acronyms that are often longer and more complicated than simply saying the full names of things. You have to follow all these silly rules and never question why. You have to explain to your child that every man he sees in uniform at the commissary is not daddy. You have to continue on with your family's schedules while altering enough so one person can manage. You move. A lot. And, typically don't get a choice as to where. You are uprooted and forced to make new friends and family. You have to be strong for your children but also soft enough they know it's okay to be sad and cry sometimes. You have to unclog toilets (typically on the first day hubby deploys), cut the grass, shovel the snow and wait patiently. You are a pillar of strength for your spouse who is gone. You are rough, sturdy and dependable.

Military spouses shouldn't be grouped in with small children and called dependents. We deserve better than that. We are worthy of a better title.