I don’t wear a crisply starched uniform. My uniform has baby food on the sleeves, or peanut butter and jelly handprints on the knees if it’s a normal day, and other bodily fluids if we’re having a rough day.
My belly crawl is in search of my daughter’s favorite princess shoe that she HAS to wear today so she can make the bus in five minutes.
My rucksack and field march consist of a 10-pound diaper bag on one shoulder, a camp chair on the other, a baby on one hip, and a tight grip on the toddler through muddy soccer fields.
I am the jump master shouting, “We’re leaving for school in FIVE MINUTES! FIVE MINUTES! FIVE MINUTES! FIVE MINUTES!”
I take the call from the school guidance counselor when my 8-year-old son acts out in class, missing his dad.
And I fall into bed exhausted at night, checking my phone for an email from hubby. I reply to his message, saying that everything is fine at home and I’m proud of him and praying for his safety.
So if I cry when you shake my hand and whisper, “Thanks for YOUR service,” you’ll have to excuse me. I used my last tissue on my sick kid’s runny nose.
How can you honor a military spouse? I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t want public recognition, a parade, a medal, or a certificate. Practical expressions of appreciation speak honor to me. Take my son fishing, or play catch with him. Write me a thank-you note and slip a Starbucks gift card in it. Pamper me with a purse-sized lotion and hand sanitizer—I’ll think of you and bless you. Mow my grass or trim the weeds—I’ll love you forever. Let me take an extra-long lunch break at work or leave early so I can take a bath by myself before the kids get home.
And know that I, too, love my country and this is my way of serving.
Angie Graham is the mother of three kids and wife of LTC (ret.) Rick Graham, an active duty Army National Guard joint operations planner/helicopter pilot/paratrooper. You’ll often find Angie shampooing her carpets after visits from the grand-dogs in her rare free time.