As a military wife and mother of young kids, one of the things I hear the most is, “I don’t know how you do it.” It, of course, refers to holding down the fort while my husband is away. Some take it further and compare me to a single mother, although I’m quick to remind them that while I may not have my husband home, I have his support and income to help while he’s away. Regardless of how they word it, I never know quite how to respond. Is it as easy as I make it look? Of course not, but it’s a part of life, and it’s actually a part of life for more than just military wives.
Every day moms, and even dads, must run the show while their spouses are away. While people recognize the hard work I do, they don’t often stop and tell my friend whose husband works random hours at a grocery store that she’s doing a good job or encourage another friend whose husband spends a few months every year working on the pipeline in Alaska. They don’t notice the friend who never sees her husband because they both have to work conflicting schedules in order to make ends meet either.
Sometimes it’s so easy to become consumed by our reality that we don’t stop to look at the reality of those around us. We can go months without our spouses, but that mom whose husband goes back to work after she has just had a new baby may be struggling even more than us. The wife whose husband has left for his first business trip may really be struggling with loneliness. The woman who only gets to see her husband as she’s climbing into bed after a long night of work may be longing for a little quality time with him.
Does that make what we do any less amazing? Does it make what we do seem any easier? Of course not, but it does give us the opportunity to pull away from our reality and start supporting someone else in theirs. We’re often the ones getting encouragement, but we should also be the ones doling out the encouragement to others.
The Bible tells us to encourage others too…
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” – 1 Peter 4:8-10
Why does it matter?
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
We can use our experience and the strength we’ve developed to build up other military wives and other wives and mothers who are struggling while their spouses are away, whether they’re away for 8 months or 8 hours. By doing so, we’ll take the focus off ourselves and our struggles.
Look around you. Who can you provide some support and encouragement to today?