We have all done it, no matter how hard we try not to. It is not really that nice of a thing to do and when it happens to you, even worse.
I think it is a natural part of human nature to size up others in your own environment. A twisted sort of look at “survival of the fittest.” Naturally, I expect to be judged about silly things like my hair, the way I talk, or the way I parent. But I never really expected to be judged about the branch of service that my husband is in.
I am a very proud Army wife and am proud of my Soldier, but I am not exclusive when it comes to my patriotic love for the armed services. Naturally, the Marine Corps is near and dear to my heart, since my father proudly served for 30 years. Our family knows many people in all services and branches, so for me, the military is military is military.
My husband and I recently moved, as many of you know, and we were able to get housing on a Marine Corps base. (It is a long story and I don’t want to get into the hairy details of housing. Housing can be a touchy subject for people. We feel blessed to have the opportunity to live on base and in such a wonderful community.) When we moved in, I didn’t give it a second thought. After growing up around the Marine Corps, I felt comfortable right away. I have lived at this base a number of times as a kid and we know the area pretty well. It instantly felt like home to me. My family and I couldn’t be more excited.
Well, like any other neighborhood, neighbors want to meet you and are curious about your travels and history. Typically, I am one not to gush about a lot of details about
my personal life. Funny thing is, we sort of came into the neighborhood with a bang. (We had a gas leak and I had to call 911 a couple time. Even LONGER story and yes, one for another blog post.) So, my neighbors were curious about the new lady who couldn’t stop calling 911, sirens blazing. When I met some of them, we did the normal exchanges and it came out that we are an Army family. Mmm. Polite smiles followed and that was about it. I didn’t think much of it because I was consumed with a gas leak, firefighters, and maintenance.
But, a few days later, a neighbor approached me and asked me, point blank, “How did you even get your house anyway?” Wow. I gulped and hardly knew how to respond. My first instinct was to say, “Just like how you got yours. Having an husband who is active duty, works really hard, serves our country, goes on multiple deployments and sacrifices daily, you know, that way.” I felt strange having to explain myself to a new person who hardly knew me and asked me such a pointed question. I would have been more comfortable talking about my political stance or religion at this point. But, I was polite to the new neighbor and explained that all my husband and I did was call housing and ask if there was a waiting list, and there wasn’t. Housing was more than happy to accommodate a military family in need of a home. She then proceeded with a couple of more zingers and went on her way.
After the encounter, I was left feeling a little violated. Now, I could go on a huge rant here, but I won’t. Instead, I really tried to look at the positive in all of it. I am glad that I keep the encounter with my new neighbor a positive one. If she already had a view on Army families and spouses, I hope I proved her wrong. I hope in some shape or fashion, she understands that military spouses are one in the same. One branch isn’t better than the other. Also, words are powerful things. I don’t think I am perfect in any realm, but I try on a daily basis to think very hard before I say something to others, especially new people that I have just met. The last thing I would ever want to do is offend any one. After this encounter, I will continue to try even harder to make sure what I am saying to others is true, but kind.
Yesterday, another neighbor asked me the same question again, about our living situation and being an Army family. Again, the question was very pointed and forward. For now, I am going to take it all with a grain of salt, chalk it up to intrigue and go proudly hang our Army flag off our front porch.