Category: Military

Dealing with Envy as a Military Spouse

But I want my tooth to fall out too, Mommy. IT’S NOT FAIR!!!“, cried my five-year-old daughter as she burst into tears. Her sweet little friend had lost her first tooth that afternoon when they were playing at her house – the two of them had been comparing their wiggly teeth for the past few weeks during their monkey bar runs after school. As my daughter and I clomped home through the snow in our boots, I explained that her loose tooth would fall out when it is ready and she should be excited for her friend, instead of being envious. And that’s when I realized that I should probably listen to my own advice – because guys, there are times when the struggle is real and my envy knows no bounds.

While the green-eyed monster certainly isn’t unique to the military spouse community and social media only seems to intensify the feelings, there are aspects of the military lifestyle that seem to be the ideal breeding ground for jealousy and envy. For every exotic assignment to a tropical island, the mediterranean, or Alaska there is a family receiving orders to Fort Polk in the Louisiana swampland or to Cannon Air Force Base in the New Mexico desert. There are some positions that allow the service members to have a robust life outside of work and other positions that demand so much time that the family members are left begging for slivers of interaction. And for every deployment, there will always be some who come home earlier, some who come home later, and some who don’t come home at all. It’s the nature of the beast, I suppose.

You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.

Margaret Atwood

I’ve been jealous and/or envious for a variety of reasons over the years. I have friends who have lived in some truly fabulous corners of the world while the Army has yet to send us overseas. I have peers who have thriving careers despite their spouses being active duty (totally not discounting their hard work – they’re all badasses who endure a lot of sacrifices to make it happen) while I feel like I got on the wrong train at a different station. I have friends who have planned fabulous events while I am over here on the struggle bus trying to coordinate my husband’s promotion festivities with little notice and changing schedules. I have friends who have parents that visit a lot. I have friends who travel to some jaw dropping places. I have friends who manage to take absolutely gorgeous pictures in their ball gowns while I end up looking like a busted can of biscuits. And I have friends who seemingly have an endless amount of time in the day to accomplish some truly astonishing goals – all while being beautiful inside and out.

I like to think that over the years, I’ve learned to deal with such emotions in a fairly healthy manner. I tend to think of the good in my life and that my life is exactly that – mine. I have gifts. I have talents. And I have many reasons to be grateful. I also remind myself that no one has it all – it simply isn’t possible. And comparing myself to others will always be a losing battle because I do so using the best of others and the worst of myself. Theodore Roosevelt told us that “comparison is the thief of joy” and there are bucket fulls of inspirational platitudes floating around the internet that remind us not to compare our middle to someone else’s ending. On a pragmatic level I know this – but there are still times when envy gets the best of me. So then what?

Honestly? I’m not sure. I suppose recognizing when I let feelings of envy get the best of me is a good start. I’m a complex human who experiences a range of emotions so it’s only natural to be envious from time to time. Such emotions don’t define me but how I react to them certainly impacts my world and how others perceive me. Life isn’t a competition. But it sure can feel like it at times.

A Holiday Pops! Home for the Holidays NSO Concert

Last night was truly a magical holiday-themed evening that culminated with snow falling from the ceiling at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as the National Symphony Orchestra, Ashley Brown, Santa Claus, and the Washington Choir sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

A Holiday Pops! Home for the Holidays NSO Concert

Founded in 1931, the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) presents approximately 175 concerts each year. As part of their ongoing Notes of Honor: NSO Salutes the Military initiative, the NSO has offered a free holiday concert in collaboration with the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore for all members of the armed forces, veterans, and military families for the past three years. We were lucky enough to score tickets and so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to attend such a great event.

 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

It was our first time seeing a performance at the iconic DC landmark. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, commonly referred to as The Kennedy Center, opened in 1971 and hosts roughly 3,500 performances each year (check out this NY Times article from 1971 about the structure – “[Washington DC]… is the home of government of, for and by the people, and of taste for the people—the big, the bland and the banal. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, opening officially Wednesday, does not break the rule.”}. Attending a performance at the Kennedy Center has been on my list as a must-do during our time in the nation’s capital so I spent the evening wide-eyed with a big grin on my face.

NSO Holiday Pops! Concert

When we attended the NSO concert on the Capitol lawn on Labor Day, one of our favorite parts was when the orchestra played Armed Forces Salute, which is a melody of all the service songs. Veterans and those currently serving are invited to stand when their branch song is performed. So last night, because the majority of the audience were military-affiliated, the concert hall was booming as soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines sang along. I get chills every time.

 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Notes of Honor

We all agreed that it was a spectacular night. I love that our children enjoy attending such events and it truly is a joy to watch them develop an appreciation for the arts. 

 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

So thank you NSO and the Notes of Honor program for putting together such a spectacular show for military families. We can’t wait to go again next year (assuming we are still stationed here..ha!).