Sunday, June 8, 2008

Seven Questions...On the Homefront

Blogging is a wonderful thing. I have met so many amazing people. The glimpses they share of their everyday lives are educational, entertaining and always eye-opening.

For example...Andrea. Until I met her, I didn't know any real-life military wives. Nor did I know anyone in a bi-racial marriage. (What DOES this say about my homogenized, white-bread lifestyle? Not sure...) But Andrea writes so honestly and humorously about her life, that I feel a new connection to the US troops and an even greater appreciation for the families who support them.

Here are her thoughts on being a soldier's wife...



#1--Please tell us how you met your husband, your love story, and how his military background fits into the picture.

We knew each other several years ago, but were both married to other people. One night, sometime after my divorce, I was online with a mutual friend. She said, “Hey! Guess who I’m talking with right now?” I said, “Who?” She told me it was Skip, that he was in Iraq and that he was also divorced. I asked her to mention that I was in the same boat (only my boat wasn’t in Iraq) and see if he wanted to talk to me sometime. I will always be grateful to her, because as soon as we connected, we knew it was going somewhere serious. I drove to Ft. Leonard Wood to welcome him home from his deployment, and he proposed to me that night. We were married 2 months later.



#2--Have you ever experienced bigotry or prejudice being a bi-racial couple? Have your children? How do you respond?


The only time I can remember is when Mika was about 3. I was in a fabric store (which seems odd for me, come to think of it…) and the woman ringing us out asked if Mika was “all white.” I said, “Well, his backside is during the summer.”


Obviously missing the attempt at humor, she said, “I meant, is he biracial?” I responded that yes, he was. She said, “Wow. He’s so cute. I guess it’s not true what they say then.”

I leaned in really close and said, “What is it, exactly, that they say?” She got a little flustered, and said, “Well, you know…” I got about as close as I could to her and whispered, “No, actually, I don’t, but why don’t you tell me.”


All she could say at that point was, “I’m sorry. Never mind.” I have no idea what “they say” and whether or not it applied to my child.

I think in this day and age, people are very accepting of mixed marriages. My husband actually pointed out that the military has a jump on interracial marriages. Because of the fact that we are stationed in so many places around the world, we have the opportunity to develop an appreciation for other cultures. We try to reflect that appreciation in our day to day lives.

#3--How does life in a military family differ from typical US family life?
AND
#4--What are some of the benefits of this lifestyle? What are the drawbacks?


I’ll combine these two questions. Some things that are unique to the military family include frequent moves, difficult working hours, long separations, and often dangerous conditions. There are many families in the civilian world who face similar challenges as well, because of their particular profession. I think military families have an advantage, however, because we know it’s what we signed up for. We can’t just blame it on a bad boss, or look for a new job. We adapt to it because that’s our only option. If you go into it with a positive attitude, you will find all kinds of opportunities to make new friends, see new places, and challenge yourself.

#5--How do you cope with your husband's long absences? Is he often in danger? What are your support systems?


Long absences put a lot of strain on both the soldier and their family. The Army recognizes this, however, and over the past several years has developed fantastic support systems designed to assist military families. I’ve met many people who “don’t need” the “social” groups of the army, but when their husbands deploy, are suddenly floundering for information and support. I am a big advocate of involvement in the Family Readiness Group, which connects families to support systems available on their installation. It’s not just a social group, but a tool for helping your family succeed.
Any warzone is a dangerous place, and I am glad he’s home now. (Click here to read about one of Skip’s toughest experiences.)

When my husband is away for regular training, we manage it by texting, emailing and talking as often as possible. While he was deployed, the main thing I had to rely on was prayer. There is an amazing comfort to be found in the quiet whisperings of reassurance that come from a divine source.

#6--Do you feel the military is understood and supported by US society in general? What are some common misconceptions?
I will confess that I grew up thinking the military was for people who couldn’t do something better with their lives. You know, after you get your GED, you can maybe go into the Army… Thankfully that’s not the case, because who wants a bunch of idiots defending our country?

I think Americans, as a whole, tend to be emotionally manipulated by the media… and that influences their level of support. I get very aggravated with all of the movies and TV shows that have come out during this war in Iraq. I think they promote misconceptions and stereotypes. (Think of the drama “Army Wives” where everyone hangs out in bars, cheats on their spouse, goes to war, and dies.) The bottom line is money, and Hollywood is first in line to capitalize on a war.

Americans are good people, and most are affected in some way by this war. That said, I do feel there is a difference between supporting the troops and supporting the war. The troops are well-supported.


War is difficult. But if you really look at it, we lost about 6,600 troops on D-Day. That was in one day! Now, five years after going into Iraq, the casualties total around 4,000. We’ve come a long way since then and I feel it’s important for people to support the work our soldiers do. (For the record, I’m not looking to spark a pro-or-anti-war debate here. Be nice about the things you say on Gabi’s blog!)

#7--Have your experiences in the military or being part of an interracial family changed your political views in any way? Why or why not?
Yes… ironically, in a very bi-partisan way. The democrat in me screams out for less funding for the military, and more focus on social welfare. But being married to the military, I understand that the bread on my table comes from decent funding in that department. I also realize that it takes money to provide safe vehicles, gear and equipment for my husband. I don’t care what it costs, if it protects him, buy it. So I find myself seriously listening to Republican politicians, because they are the ones who will likely meet those needs. Skip said he’s going to enroll me in the Young Republicans … I told him not to make any hasty decisions just yet.

I love my husband, and I support his career choice. Do I want him going back to Iraq? There’s no way in hell. But joining the Army was his choice, marrying him was mine. Some days are harder than others, but we make it work.

Hooah, Andrea! Well said...

Andrea writes at If You Give a Mom a Moment. I highly recommend a visit. (And if she graces your blog with a comment...don't ever skip it, Andrea has raised blog-comments to an art form!)

30 comments:

Bridget said...

Another great interview Gabi. Loved this.

I love Andrea's blog but not only that I love reading her commments on other blogs. They can be hilarious and insightful all at the same time. She's a hoot.

Rochelleht said...

That was SOOO interesting. I'm still reeling from the fabric store comment. Having disabled children yields lots of incredibly rude comments as well. You can always count on a cashier...

They are such a cute couple. I love the wedding picture. Adorable. Thanks for another great interview, Gab!!

Paige said...

I'm just glad that two such beautiful people found each other.

What do they say about bi-racial? I've never heard it. I've ALWAY heard that bi-racial kids were much more beautiful due to the fantastic mixing of DNA. The world's great loss is that Skip and Andrea never procreated...

Gabi, great interview and perspective. Your interviews are my favorite posts online.

andrea said...

thanks gabi. this was fun to do, and writing some of it down made me think a little deeper. truth be told, when we have long separations, i manage it by an abundance of whining and self-pity.
this was well-timed. it gives me a great boost during the current separation. thank you for being clever and insightful, and sharing that with everyone.

andrea said...

oh, and thanks for posting at the same time as the celtics beat the lakers. WHAT A NIGHT FOR ME!!

Heather said...

Plus Andrea is your go-to gal if you need music for any mood...

Jenibelle said...

I think it is so important to know that there are all kinds of families. It shouldn't matter what color our skin is, children are children, people are people regardless. The color of our skin should absolutely be the last thing we think of when we choose our family or our friends.

I am a huge fan of the military, as I come from an Air Force family. AND, I am a huge fan of whining.

Annemarie said...

Great interview!!

diane said...

I love the interviews. Keep them coming.
Thanks to Skip and Andrea we can all sleep well tonight.
What a beautiful family.

TravelinOma said...

You should get a pair of suspenders for these interviews. They are always so great. Thanks to you both.

cami said...

What a beautiful family! Thanks for the insight into their life.

Tristan said...

I loved this!! Every day I read Andrea's blog I like her so much more! She is an amazing person, and I loved reading her answers here.

There is a special place in hell for racist people. I don't even know what it is "they say". I don't want to know!

I support our troops 100%!!

As always, good questions Gab!

Christie said...

Go Andrea! This was a great interview. I am so glad we got to meet her. Her comments and posts crack me up. Love her. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa-Marie said...

Love Gabi. Love Andrea. Loved this post!

I've truly enjoyed getting to know Andrea better. She is a great wife, mother and friend. For some reason this made me cry, "joining the Army was his choice, marrying him was mine." There is a LOT of wisdom in that little line.

Cathy said...

As always an incredible interview, so when are you going to be appearing as a regular anchor woman? It brought back memories for me being raised in the Army!

Ashlee said...

Thanks for the heads up about her blog. She sounds like a wonderful person!

Clair said...

hurrah for Andrea! I'm another fan. Just barely learned about your blog and am definitly going to spend some time learning from other women here. Gabi, the interviews are so neat. I always wanted to interview a mom with about 13 kids and find out about her organization tactics... I also have PMmess!

Ilene said...

GREAT interview and insights. I say buy whatever the military needs to keep our people and their families as safe as possible.

I once had someone tell me and my chinese boyfriend that she hoped we would have babies together becauase bi-racial babies are so much cuter.

I have nieces and nephews who are bi-racial and they are beautiful... honestly, I feel a bit bad for my all white babies.

Holly said...

Once again, thanks for sharing your circle of friends with us. Another great interview! Must check out her blog now that I've *met* her through you.

Lauren said...

I so agree with you, Gabi...Andrea does raise commenting to an artform! I have been brought to tears from laughter on more than one occasion!

This was another great interview, Gabi. Kudos :)

I have always been impressed with and intrigued by Andrea. I was really excited to see your interview was about her.

The romantic in me was giddy when I read that Skip proposed the night that she welcomed him home from his deployment. I wonder if she was expecting a proposal?!

I loved how she handled the stupidity of the fabric store woman.

I had an elderly woman that I visit taught say to me once, "Your parents are Jewish? So, your'e Jewish?!" (She obviously knew I was LDS...I guess she just meant of Jewish descent) When I told her, "Yes, my birth mother was Jewish and my father is Jewish but converted to the church when I was 6." She said, "Well, you don't have an awful hook nose like those people!" I guess my nose wasn't as large as she thought it should have been but, my mouth was sure large due to the fact that it was hanging open upon hearing that.

Bless their hearts. Some people are just stupid.

Anderson Zoo Keepers said...

Great interview. I don't know Andrea, but from one Army wife to another - you ROCK.

Mique (as in M-i-c-k-e-y) said...

Keep the interviews coming. I think you have a great future in journalism when all your kidlets are raised.
I too found this one great- what's so wonderful about your interviews is that they give us the opportunity to see the world through someone else's eyes but also see the connections that we all have too.

Mique (as in M-i-c-k-e-y) said...

P.s. I come from a bi-racial marriage- my mom is whitey and my dad is hispanic. The funny thing is I literally did not realize that I would even be classified as bi-racial until I was at BYU and people made some really rude comments (even some guys said they couldn't date me because I was bi-racial, HUH????????). It never occured to me until then. My parents did a great job I guess and part of it was growing up in San Diego where there's lots of diversity.

Hazen5 said...

I have always wanted to know Andrea's story! Thanks

queenieweenie said...

I'm lovin' the interviews! What a beautiful family.

check out my blog if you get a chance and vote for my hubby!

mama jo said...

loved that interview...an amazing look into a harder life than most have..andrea must be so strong to let her husband go where there is so much danger...we need to honor these people and help out in anyway that we can.

Christie said...

Oh my - that was amazing to read. I have so much awe and respect for military families - I know that I could never do it.

Shally said...

Andrea is one in a million!

Marci said...

So interesting! And such a gorgeous family. Your interviews are always so much fun to read!

Heidiram said...

Gabi I love your interviews. And I loved hearing the scoop about Andrea and Skip. And I too am a supporter of biracial marriages. :0)

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