It started (and has ended) with tears, in late October early November 2003 as Shane informed me that we were joining the Army. He was in Iowa at the MEPS center and he signed his name on the dotted line. I was excited, happy, sad, scared, you name it! (I cried A LOT but later found out I was pregnant at the time) I didn't know what it meant to be "in" the Army, but I was about to find out!
Shane left for AIT in March 2004 when I was 25 weeks pregnant. We were very lucky he was able to come home for Paxton's birth! Then he left again to South Carolina and we were finally put on orders to Fort Riley! YAY! It was only 2 hours away from the only "home" I had known. I had never been on a military installation before and was surprised at how it is it's own little city and I was very excited! We moved in on Riley in July 2004 and I literally jumped in with both feet first. We had a couple of weeks of getting to know the area before he was sent out for training in the field. So there I was, brand new to the Army life, new mother, new home and I didn't know a single person! I found out very quickly that sitting on my butt at home wasn't going to find me friends or teach me much about the Army. I did find MANY online resources that I still use to this day (6 years later)! I took all three levels of AFTB online (and went on to be an instructor!) classes and I joined a few Military sites for spouses. (Which I still belong to and LOVE to visit EVERYDAY!) I ended up going to a coffee at someones house (Kristi to be exact) within that first month of being at Riley and met many wonderful ladies (who I am still friends with). I then went to Army Community Service (ACS) and made sure I was apart of everything they had to offer! I wanted to learn as much as I could about being an Army wife, as fast as I could! My friendships grew, my abilities as a mother and Army wife grew and I personally grew A LOT that first year as being an Army Wife!
We were very lucky that Shane was home for the whole first year of Paxton's life. He deployed in November 2005. So here I was, on my "own" with a 17 month old child. I didn't know exactly how I was going to make it a full year being a single mom! I knew it could be done though and I was going to do it but I had my doubts from time to time but I made it through with my own strength and the strength and support of those around me. I had all my "sisters" with me at Riley and some also going through deployments. We bonded together to help each other out anywhere we could. It is a true sisterhood that is formed with other Army wives. We were always there for each other no matter the circumstances! These ladies were My FAMILY and we made it through the deployment with flying colors! We made it through kids being sick, us being sick, kids going to school, ourselves going back to online college, Soldiers being hurt, you name it we did it and survived!
Shane got back home in October 2006. He talked a lot about getting out of the Army throughout his deployment but he was missing us (as we were him) and when we were all back together he decided it was best to "stay in"! He was able to reenlist for another 4 years with our choice of duty station. It was either Hawaii or Germany and I told him since it was his career he got to choose. He chose Hawaii! WOOHOO we were going to live in Paradise! I was excited and terrified all at once!
In June 2007 we moved to Hawaii. When we arrived I was awe struck and couldn't believe I was really going to be living in a place like this. Of course, over the years the "awe" wore off some but I always said I loved living in Hawaii (and really miss it now that we're gone)! Soon after we arrived though he was off for a few months to train again and then another deployment. This time is was 15 months instead of 12. Again, we did just what any other Army family does, we put on our big girl panties and boots and we just kept truckin along!
I went back to work while in Hawaii and even though I did (and still do feel) that I missed out on so much of Paxton's life I am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to have the first 3 years of her life at home with her! When Shane came home from deployment and said this was it, he knew that he was going to be put in for the Medical Board; I didn't know what to think. I wasn't as terrified as I was when he talked about getting out the first deployment but I was still scared and very sad. I literally LOVE everything about being an Army Wife! I was able to come to terms with it (somewhat! LOL) and I knew I had to be proactive and find what was next in our lives.
I without a doubt found my calling in the workforce, I want to help Military Families! I know it's broad but it's good enough for me! I cannot pinpoint exactly what I really WANT to do to help Soldiers and their families but I just know that I want to help! I feel that where I am right now is where I was meant to be, helping the Total Army Family get their voices heard (just wish the circumstances were different). I don't know if this is where God will continue to keep me, but I know that I feel I have one of the most rewarding careers there can be!
Another thing the Army has given me is my Faith. I walked away from the church a long time ago but through the Army I was able to find my way back. I do not know if we hadn't joined if I would have found my way back or not but what matters now is that I have. We had our marriage blessed in the Church and also Paxton baptized. While in Hawaii, Shane went through RCIA to become Catholic and we are just waiting to find a church here so we can finish that process. I also became a CCD teacher! I NEVER pictured myself actually teaching from the bible but it was a WONDERFUL experience and I would love to do it again!
The Army has brought many people into my life that I will NEVER forget! Some I will lose touch with but never forget. My memories will always be there of what a wonderful experience this has been for me and my family. I have a mother, father, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, husband and daughter but there is NOTHING like the Family I have found in the Army! HOOAH!