Laura Bush, in a pantsuit

When I became an Air Force wife, it was a shock to the system.  The husband and I had been married for a year when he carefully mentioned his deep desire to serve in the military.  We were living in natural foods focused, liberal college town, Prius driving era central NC.  I used to walk to the co-op for fruits and veggies.  I saw Obama speak publicly on the UNC campus back in ’08.

Many people asked me if I was planning on being a military wife.  When I say no, it was a process, and it was something I did because I wanted my husband to be happy.  What I didn’t realize was how much this decision would shape my life.  Now I understand why I was asked this question.

Many women I have met here on base seem to have been drawn in by the romance of military wifery, with images of 1940s era WWII nostalgia. 

Clearly, there are misconceptions about what it looks like to be a military wife that exist out there in America.  The biggest misconception I had was that I needed to throw aside my quirks and liberalness to become Laura Bush, dressed in a pantsuit.  The stereotype of the military wife as being a silent extension of American conservative values is just not the case.

In my time here on base, I’ve met women from all walks of life.  One is an artist, writer, who has spent her husband’s deployment living in the mountains in a cottage on an artist retreat, another is a European woman with a high pressure job in reproductive rights for women around the world, and the list continues.  The wives here are tough, individualists who manage to create their own happiness during stretches of loneliness and anxiety over their husbands’ well-being.

When I first became an Air Force wife, I had no idea of the strength I would witness, the role models I would find in the woman next door.  I had no idea how much I would be shaped from a girl to a woman in a few years.

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