Today I am blogging from SpouseBUZZ Live in Fayetteville, NC. SpouseBUZZ is the great group blog for military spouses to share their experiences and advice, as well as funny stories and just about anything else in the world that is of interest to the SpouseBUZZ bloggers and readers. Click HERE to view a live feed from the conference.
The first panel this morning was “A Humorous Look at the MilSpouse Experience” moderated by Melinda (Guard Wife). Those on the panel were Mike (Toad), the token male; Sarah, who dropped her microphone in the bathroom sink; Ruthie (airforcewife), who kept her “cursing problem” completely under control and Carrie (semperfiwife) representing the Marine Corps spouses.
They began by talking about lessons they had learned. Sarah, who has moved 5 times in 2 years, said “don’t buy so much crap.” Ruthie learned to shut up and listen to the advice of others, Semper Fi wife said she learned you don’t have to go through it all by yourself. Toad talked about the lessons he had learned as a military spouse as opposed to his experience before he retired from the military. He has learned that when you are not in the military, you should not ask questions, and not give advice to your spouse on military matters.
The panel shared some hilarious stories, as did many in the audience, about communicating with spouses on deployment. One woman in the audience who has her tenth child on the way (yes, that was 10th!) said she used video to communicate with her husband and recently filmed the aftermath of her little boy peeing on her from their balcony.
After the first panel, attendees were treated to a song from Cliff Hudson of To The Fallen Records. The beautiful song he sang was written for his then fiancee while he was on deployment in Iraq. He surprised her by singing the song for her the first time at their wedding reception. (This guy is a keeper.) He is a Marine and everyone on the To The Fallen record label is exclusively military.
I’ll have more later, including pictures.
Panel # 2: No, You’re Not a Weirdo: Finding Your Inner Wonder Woman
Moderator: Andi. Speakers: Ginger (GBear), Cris (Love My Tanker), Carren (Joan D’Arc, Lia (Homefront Six)
Andi began by talking about anticipatory grief and how a post on planning a spouse’s funeral (a spouse who was still alive) sat there for a while before anyone commented, but when someone finally did many more joined in to say they thought they were the only ones who had thought about what they were going to do if their spouse did not return.
The next issue discussed was reunification. The pictures of flags waving and loved ones running to meet those returning from deployment is just part of the picture. After that scene is played out you have to learn how to live with each other again.
Another subject discussed was what a blessing technology has been — not just for communicating with those deployed, but for communicating with other spouses and for finding helpful resources.
Ginger talked about her experience with her son who has a rare form of cancer (the survival rate is only 5%). She planned her son’s funeral (and related the experience of being told by the funeral director that “kids are half price”). Her son is 14 now and has had quite a few very painful procedures done. She had to learn to sew in order to make custom clothes he required. When he was undergoing a procedure at Walter Reed he met some returning from war in Iraq and heard about some needs they had. Ginger’s response was “Sew Much Comfort” which will provide 30,000 items for service members.
Carren talked about her husband, who is still serving, who had many surgeries for injuries received in Iraq. She cried as she told the audience (who was by then crying) that her husband still wears clothes he received from Sew Much Comfort even though he no longer has to. She talked about how she tried to be Wonder Woman, but learned to accept help. Carren’s husband Chuck was a blogger and later joined with Soldier’s Angels to form VALOUR IT which provides voice activated laptops to wounded troops. (I heard Chuck speak at the Milblog Conference this spring and he is an incredible, and incredibly funny, individual who has turned something terrible into a wonderful program that is helping so many people.) Carren has almost finished her fourth year of graduate school while dealing with kids and deployment and says she is not Wonder Woman, but that she has been able to do a lot of things she didn’t think she could and that anyone can too. She says “just do it” even if you do have lots thrown at you. Chuck’s mother, who was at the conference said that Carren is a Wonder Woman and told the story of how severe his injuries were and how well Carren dealt with it. She told the hilarious story of how Chuck, with his hands up in slings, told Carren she needed to pick his nose.
Another subject of discussion was how to deal with “deployment gremlins” — those things that always seem to wait until the spouse is away on deployment to go wrong. Lia talked about how satisfying it was to be able to talk to her husband after the fact and tell him what went wrong, but that she had taken care of it herself.
One member of the audience shared some of her deployment gremlins including a plumbing problem that came up as she was taking her husband to the airport and ended up after a week without water, 1000 dollars later and with her front yard dug up, a death in the family, an office that burned down, a broken foot and a handful of other problems to deal with.
One woman had a miscarriage, then her 17 year old dog died, then her hamster died, then her snake died, then her basement flooded five times. She says she is good now though. There were many other stories of appliances breaking down, kids getting broken, etc.
Ruthie talked of having to deal with her crazy Russian mother-in-law who liked to bite people and who did not wear clothes, while her husband was on deployment.
These are some incredible women and I don’t care what they say, many of them are Wonder Women.
Check out Homefront Six who is also blogging from the conference.