What being a Navy Wife means...

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 13, 2017
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I guess I didn't really know what I was signing up for when I decided to marry a sailor.

It's the same as when I decided to quit my job and followed him to Sweden for his naval training, when we put on our wedding bands and became husband and wife, when we started a family and became Mum and Dad in a home away from home. Sure, you can hear, read and imagine all you want about living abroad, about marriage and about parenthood but when your time comes, you are never fully prepared for it because life is just too full of surprises.

Come to think of it, that's also the beauty of living too, right? That you can never be a know-it-all, that you still stumble and fall no matter how cautious you are, that you learn to pick yourself up, that you become wiser not just with age, but with every experience that makes you stronger and better, that you realise you want to live the Carpe Diem way because life is unpredictable and too short for regrets.

Being a navy wife has taught me so much about life. It has made me more independent, it has given me confidence and strength, it has taught me that nothing is too hard for me to achieve as long as I put my heart and soul into it.

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I can still recall the first few years of being attached to this man that I now call husband. While I was still enjoying hall life in university and pursing my bachelor's degree, he had already started serving his bond and begun his career in the navy. He is that kind of person who knew what he wanted to be since the beginning, whose reply to the question of why he wanted to join the navy was because he "loved the sun, the sand and the sea", who was born not to be work in an office and be clad in a suit and tie but to be a sailor in uniform and boots and to serve as a son of the sea.

There were things which I felt thankful for, and still do up to this day, to be a navy wife.

I am proud to be with someone who is imbued with a strong sense of patriotism and not only does he love our country, he feels the urge to do his part in protecting our shores, in keeping our people safe and in giving his all to this tiny red dot we call home.

I am grateful that he has a stable job because when I first started working, my pay as a media executive was nothing to boast about and it also seemed like I could get retrenched any minute while he was, and still is, the one with an iron rice bowl. Now that I've 'retired' from the workforce to be a stay-at-home mum and look after our trio, he is the one who brings home the bacon and makes ends meet for our family.

I have much less worry about him going astray given that he is surrounded mainly by manly men in his workplace. Yes, this was one of the things that made me go "Hooray" when I first knew that he was in the navy. Trust me, when you are a plain Jane like me and your other half is a charismatic, wildly popular guy among the girls, it matters. After 14 years of being together, and now that our marriage is stable and has a good chance of lasting forever, I can see how much he has grown and matured from a rather impulsive chap to a mature, sensible man. And I'm lucky to be the one, his one.



But that said, there are so many things about being a navy wife that only a fellow navy wife would understand. Yes, it does take courage and valour to be a sailor but you know what, I think it takes courage and valour to be a sailor's wife too, just that we are neither seen as heroines nor are our roles celebrated or recognised as much.

So if you are a navy wife, or a military wife, like me, and if you find yourself nodding in agreement with the truths that I'm going to say, let me give you an empathetic hug from wife to wife, a high five for making it this far, and a huge pat on the back to motivate each other to keep going strong.

We believe that absence makes the heart fonder
Yes, we have to. Considering how far apart we can be from our spouse and how those days add up to make us have a taste of loneliness over and over again, we have to remind ourselves that our love stays strong, our faith stays unwavering and our marriage stays intact.

We don't really understand his job scope
Even if we do take the time and effort to listen to his description on what he does on board, what goes on during a sailing trip, how the ship functions or the dangers faced at sea, the fact is we still don't understand much of it. Yup, and don't get me started on all the military jargon which is too complicated for my simple mind to make sense of. But what we do know is that his job is vital and that he plays an indispensable role and all we can do is to support and cheer him on.

We don't ask Where, Who, Why or What, only When
If the hubby tells us he is going out for sailing and will not be back for an extended period of time, we don't really ask much questions except the date that he goes and the date that he is expected to return. Yup, the latter can fluctuate but at least we have a good idea of when we, and our kids, can look forward to seeing him again.

We worry because we care
It doesn't matter how many times he has sailed or how we have gotten used to it. The fact remains that we still worry every time he is deployed or goes out to sea because we know, we do know, the risk is always there. Our hearts skip a beat when we hear about accidents at sea and if your hubby is like mine who is submerged most of the time when he sails, you practically don't even get to contact him much at all till the day he returns to shore. I think this constantly worrying is partly why I am getting more white hair too, in addition to being driven up the wall by the kids when he is not around to share my woes with me.

We depend on no one but ourselves
When we are girlfriends and wives, we adapt to loneliness and learn to pass time when our other half is away. When we become mothers, we learn to survive, and eventually excel, at solo parenting. At least, that is how I've trained myself to look after three kids with no help, sometimes not because I want to, but because I have to. If the hubby is out at sea, unless it is a case of life threatening emergency, if not we know that we'd better just handle the situation on our own because he already has so much on his plate. The least we can do is let him return to a home and kids who have been well taken care of in his absence.

We stop asking "What time will you be back?"
I used to look forward to having family dinners with the hubby whenever he is not sailing. Alas, it turns out that even if he is on shore, he will be busy working in his office or on the ship, to the point that he skips his meals and works so much overtime that we seldom get to see him before the kids' bedtime. So nowadays, I either put his leftover food in the fridge or not cook his portion at all since he comes back home too tired to eat on some nights. I've also stopped texting him every day to find out what time he returns (I used to so that I can time our dinner or at least reheat the food for the time he steps in) and just carry on with our evening routine - washing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen, bathing the kids, making milk, reading bedtime stories, putting everyone to bed - while patiently waiting for his return when the house is quiet.

We don't plan for vacations
Even if we badly want to, we can't. That is because their work schedule is too volatile and while other families can plan for holidays in advance, save on airfare and look forward to the trips, we know jolly well that we can't do that. The hubby cannot take leave too far in advance and even if he can, the fact is something urgent might just crop up and we might have to forsake the whole trip. Yes, that will surely be a bummer for everyone. So, we've learned to make use of last minute deals, to make plans spontaneously, to be flexible and remain adaptable for changes, and to weave in short getaways instead of long-stay holidays.

We hold the family together
I'm not just a mum most of the time, I'm also a nurse, doctor, teacher, referee, handyman, chef, cleaner and more. Yes, we have to multitask every minute of the day. As a mum who is also a navy wife, I need to take up one more important role - that of the Dad - on more days than one too. You see, our kids have gotten so used to the notion of Daddy working late and that they won't get to see him on most days even if he is not at sea, to the point that they don't ask where he is or whether they will get to see him today. I remember when my eldest was a toddler and the hubby returned after weeks of being away at sea, she cried when she saw his ungroomed look with the grown out beard and for a while, couldn't seem to recognise him. Yes, a little heartbreaking to know but it also means as mums who are present most of the time, we take up the responsibility of holding the family together and we keep our ties going strong. I remember I did a voice recording of the hubby saying good night and singing a lullaby so I could play it for the girl before she slept every night and I showed her photos and videos too. A little bizarre, I know, but anything that helps me to not let Daddy become a stranger to the kids, I would do it.

We don't take things for granted
We used to laugh, or even nod, when our friends comment that our enemies can easily wipe our minuscule country out with a bomb. That was, before we married someone in the military. Since then, we don't take national security for granted, we cherish the peace we have with our neighbouring countries, we appreciate how we can walk down dark alleys at night, we are thankful to be able to raise our next generation in this beautiful city which is rarely given enough credit. That is because we see firsthand how much pain, toil, sweat and effort go into defending our nation and making sure that Singapore remains a safe haven for our people to live in, and thus we learn to never take things for granted. And yes, we are extra proud during the military defense display during National Day Parade because we know, we know.

We are stronger than we know
It's easy to give up being a navy wife, trust me I know, and the fact that we've stuck to this role from then till now says a lot about our endurance and strength. We might have run to the toilet and cried when our kids were not watching, we might have secretly teared on our pillows on lonely, miserable nights, we might have fantasized how it would be like if we had married a spouse with more normal working hours, we might have screamed, shrieked, yelled, nagged, bawled, groaned and lost our sanity more times than we can keep track, but the one constant is that we have never given up. Nor do we intend to throw in the towel in the future.

The truth is while our hubbies fight battles at sea and demonstrate bravery and fortitude, we are also constantly fighting battles - needs battles, emotional battles, mum battles - and even if we don't show it to the world, we are resilient, we can prove our mettle and we are the strong pillars of supports that our sailors need.

In the end, I think I am still a blessed lady to be where I am. Marrying a sailor and becoming a navy wife is worth every bit of this tough journey and if I had the chance to start all over again, I would choose this path in a heartbeat if it means being with you, my dear.


16 comments:

  1. You are not a plain Jane, woman! You look so nice in this pic!!!!! Thanks for sharing a bit about how it is to be a navy wife. Any time you're lonely and need to talk, can call me ok?

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    1. Haha thanks for the vote of confidence! Yesh, it's so nice to have friends (kids not counted) to talk to or loneliness might just get the better of me. Haha. Better still to have fellow like-minded mums. Thanks for being there!

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  2. Thanks so much for your heartfelt sharing.. I found myself agreeing completely with you with every point you made! It resonates with me totally! Hang in there! We wives WILL hold the fort at home with as much grace, strength & wisdom possible while giving our men the strength and courage to continue doing the amazing job they've always been doing. My utmost respect to you all!

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    1. Awww thanks Steph! Glad it struck a chord with a fellow military wife! Yes yes, we will soldier and march on strongly while holding the fort at home, which is totally not as easy as it sounds, but we can and we will do it! Jia you together! Thanks for reading!

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  3. I am a Military Wife too. And this article came in handy when my Husband is flying off tomorrow for 7 weeks overseas deployment. Thank you for expressing our joy and woes and most importantly, reminding how strong we can be, and the unweavering faith we have in our husbands. Jiayou! ����

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    1. Hello, fellow military wife! *waves* oh yeah, 7 weeks of overseas deployment is quite long! While I guess we might grow to get accustomed to the dayd without our other halves, we still must remain ourselves to never lose faith and always keep the love and the marriage going strong. Jia you jia you! Thanks for reading and glad it struck a chord!

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  4. Dear Summer,

    You are a beautiful wife! Outwardly and more importantly, at heart. We are very blessed and very grateful knowing that our precious ones back home are being loved and cared for wholeheartedly by our spouses. We seldom say so (maybe it is a military thing =b) but we love our spouses very much. Thank you for being the silent warrior at home so that those of us in the military can give our utmost to serve our nation.

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    1. Awww thanks for your very kind words, whoever you are, Mr Military Man! It's nice to occasionally hear from our spouses on how they appreciate us holding the fort at home while they fight for our nation. And yes, it's a military thing when it comes to showing love but trust me, we do know how much we are loved. As high as the skies and as deep as the oceans. :) Thanks for being one of the brave ones who are willing to step up to serve and protect our country! Salute!

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  5. Love this post, Summer.

    I can feel the emotions in your words, so touching to read the final pointers (things which "normal" couples might take for granted). Your resilience, and your efforts to pull everyone together, the kids' yearning for more Daddy time. It not only make me appreciate SG's security more, but yours and husband's sacrifices. Kudos Summer!

    cheers, Andy
    (SengkangBabies.com)

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    1. Awww thanks Andy, so nice and sweet of ya! It's not always that people tell us they appreciate our national security and the sacrifices put in by the military men and women, so thanks very much for it! I will jia you on my end to hold the fort at home while the hubby battles it out at sea!

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  6. Just another Navy wifeSeptember 14, 2017 at 3:59 PM

    I was reading.... can't stop nodding and laughing at the same time.. You managed to pen down every single thoughts that went thru our mind...and did it in such a beautiful way... thank you.

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    1. Hahahaha, high 5!! Oh yeah, don't we share the same sentiments and go through the same situations.. nice to connect with another navy wife! We need to inspire one another to keep going strong! Thanks for leaving a msg for me!

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  7. Thanks summer. Hope you still remember me. I am happytotshelf's sil. Also a military wife. Known the military man for more than 21 yrs. It gets better because kids grow and you get stronger. Hearts still ache and pins for him to be around but perhaps it's shorter now as you know what to keep yourself occupied. I have three boys, two needs more special care so I do need help. I am bless with a awesome helper whom I love to say it's like my sister. Let's carry on.

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    1. Hihi, yes of cos I remember! I know what you mean, that the kids grow up and things will be different then. I am reminding myself to enjoy as much of them when they are this young, regardless of hubby being around or at sea. Great to know you have an super helper and you are awesome to be able to juggle your life and take care of the 3 boys. We are all blessed in many ways, yes let's march on together!

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  8. I feels you... You are doing great.. Keep up going..

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    1. Thanks much, Susan! Let's keep going together!

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