Military Spouse Magazine

NOV 2018

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Page 25 of 35

The Greatest Generation Life lessons from the military spouses who raised me. By Valli Vida Gideons, Marine Corps Spouse O U R L I V E S WEEKENDS GROWING UP ON BASE WERE THE BEST. A gang of kids would spend countless hours collecting sticks for fort-building, riding bikes, and fishing at the quarry. When the streetlights came on, we would all gather back at one of the neighbor's house. Lounging on green velvet sofas and papasan chairs, a gaggle of us would prepare for a game of Clue or Life. With shag carpet between our toes, we loved hang- ing out while our moms sat at the kitchen table playing Bridge, drinking Tab, and sharing stories about life. For most of us who lived on the block, at any given time half of our dads would be on TDY for six-week rotations. The moms in the neighbor- hood became an extended family of sorts. We had a village of mama bears taking care of us; their doors and hearts were always open. These ladies were teachers, nurses, stay-at-home-moms, and my idols. Growing up around women like this was a gift. Many of the lessons I learned were not obvious until decades later when I became a military spouse myself. After 23 years of be- ing a military bride, I can reflect back on things the women from my childhood taught me: NEVER WEAR YOUR HUSBAND'S R ANK The kids on our street were taught to give each person respect, no matter their job or rank. I watched my mom and her friends treat each family equally. Not knowing the difference between an officer and an enlisted service man until I was a teenager, I never heard my mom's friends discuss it. If you were a military family, then you were one of them. HOME IS WHERE THE MILITARY SENDS YOU These women were masters at making a house a home. Whether it meant adding temporary wallpaper to a plain space or creating a wall of family photos, each quickly put their stamp on their residence. They were world-class purgers and organiz- ers and could transform a house into a home in record time. I don't remember hearing anyone complain about the space being too small, the neighbor's house being too close, or their view not being good enough. My mom and her friends had a way of mak- ing things work, improvising, and appreciating a place to call home. These women understood people were more important than the square footage or the kitchen countertops. CREATE A NETWORK The military spouses I grew up with were masters at making fast friends and relying on each other for strength. If there were a seamstress in the bunch, she would help hem the school pants for a neighbor, while the mom with the nursing background might assist in deciding if a kid needed stitches for a busted knee. This tribe of women was not afraid to offer help when needed. Spending time with new and old friends was a priority. Cookouts, game nights, and impromptu gatherings on the front porch were a normal part of base living. The moms facilitated a welcom- ing culture. They formed horseshoes of inclusion rather than closed circles. >> Photos provided by Valli Vida Gideons 26 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / NOVEMBER 2018

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