We believe stories are important - they connect us with other women who share similar experiences and help us feel as if we're not alone when life throws us a curveball. And as a military spouse - owned company, we believe in the power of sharing stories of fellow military spouses. The military spouse community is a unique sisterhood - they show strength with every relocation, deployment, and lost job; they’re resilient - making a new home and forming new friendships at each duty station; and they are fiercely devoted to the family and military hero they love. Despite the uncertainty and sacrifice that military life brings, military spouses face each new challenge with grace and bravery. At Charliemadison Originals, we're celebrating our sisterhood of military spouses through our Meet a Milspouse series - sharing one story at a time and giving you a glimpse inside their world.
GIVE US A BEHIND-THE-SCENES PEEK AT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY – HOW DID YOU BECOME A MILITARY SPOUSE (MILSPOUSE)? WHAT DO YOU DO IN ADDITION TO BEING A MILSPOUSE? AND A FUN FACT ABOUT YOUR MILITARY FAMILY?
I am a former Coast Guard GF of 2 years and a current Navy wife of 7 years. I consider myself a master packer, an expert at finding my tribe quickly, and a tiny human tamer with my four little ones. I also feel strongly that I became a military spouse in order to help others because it was not in my original "plans". But then again, that's basically how military life is!
I met my husband in 2004. He was stationed in my home town of Memphis Tennessee in the Coast Guard. I had never really interacted with military members growing up. About 2 years into dating, he got out of the military, we dated for a couple more years, got married, finished our educations, and settled in Vancouver, WA in 2010. We wanted to start a family, I had my dream job, and my husband had just graduated with his accounting degree.
Then one day, as I am making meatloaf, my husband walks into the kitchen and tells me he wants to go back into the military - the Navy this time. I was scared and apprehensive of the whole idea. I had the same questions that many new MILSOs have. I had heard stories of military life and not all were good.
I was also nervous about starting a military family and what this would mean for our family. After all, deployments and moving every 2-3 years did not sound like something I wanted to deal with. But my husband felt called to serve and so he asked me if I would be willing to follow him as he served. Of course I knew the answer to that.
So we decided that we would take this next step together. By 2013, my husband was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy. Since then, we have been through 3 ships, 7 deployments, 3 duty stations, and 4 babies. I cannot imagine our life outside of the military. I choose every day to love and follow my husband as he serves his country.
Outside of military life, I have a Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and work part-time online via tele-intervention. I also enjoy organizing, reading, spending time with my kids and I am an off-and-on runner. I have 4 beautiful children under the age of 6 so our house is always noisy and messy, but full of love and laughter.
Fun Fact – My husband was my date to my high school “prom” and wore his uniform. Those dress blues sealed the deal!
WHICH MILITARY BRANCH DOES YOUR SPOUSE SERVE IN AND FOR HOW MANY YEARS HAS HE SERVED?
Navy and he has served 7 years as a Navy officer and over 12 years total with prior service.
WHERE HAS THE MILITARY MOVED YOUR FAMILY OVER THE YEARS? WHICH WAS YOUR FAVORITE DUTY STATION AND WHY?
We have always been state side, starting off in Rhode Island, then Norfolk, VA, San Diego CA and now in Washington. I don’t really have a favorite duty station because each one has had its ups and downs but if I were to pick ONE to live at forever, it would be at our current duty station in WA. You just can’t beat the fabulous green and lush landscapes, the outdoor activities, and the mild weather that you get from the Pacific Northwest. Plus, I love the rain!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A MILITARY SPOUSE? TELL US SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED OR HAS MADE YOU STRONGER BECAUSE YOU ARE A MILSPOUSE?
My favorite thing about being a military spouse is the ability to make friends that are more like family all over. I know these fellow ladies would be there for me at any time if I need them. I have learned through them that it’s OK to need help and that it is a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for help.
That is what your “tribe” is all about! When you are solo parenting, your car breaks down during a deployment or you need someone at 3:30 am to come to your house so you don’t have to bring your small kids to the hospital while you have a baby (true story)….your tribe is there for you!
WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?
My kids! My children are all young, but they are reminders to me every day the resilience that milkids can have. My oldest has lived in 3 different places before she turned 4 years of age, and each of my children (other than the brand new baby) have experienced multiple deployments and TDYs. Through each of them, they remind me of my strength but also my human qualities and never judge their parents for missing things along the way. They are a testament to how military life can shape someone for the better.
WHICH CHARLIEMADISON EVERYDAY REMINDER DO YOU WEAR ON YOUR WRIST AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THAT PARTICULAR BRACELET?
I wear the Renew You bracelet as a reminder to focus on my self-care. Self-care is something I am very passionate about because as a military spouse, we go through so many changes and experiences that the everyday spouse may not. This can cause us to sometimes put ourselves on the back burner because we feel we need to “do all the things for all the people”. But when we serve ourselves and fill our own cups, we are more able to serve.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY CONNECTED TO WHAT MATTERS MOST, DESPITE THE UNCERTAINTY, FREQUENT MOVES, AND DEPLOYMENTS THAT GO ALONG WITH BEING A MILITARY FAMILY?
I have specific and scheduled “me time”. What I do during that time can vary from reading a book, doing a workout, meditating, or getting a Starbucks refresher alone, but it’s time I carve out for myself. I literally put it IN my calendar! This is usually right before bed or first thing in the morning when the children are sleeping. By giving myself this time, I am better able to tackle the everyday milspo life antics that take over the rest of my time.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A FELLOW MILITARY SPOUSE WHO IS STRUGGLING WITH MILITARY LIFE OR DEPLOYMENT?
FIND YOUR TRIBE! They do not have to be military-affiliated, they could only be Facebook friends or even someone who is in a different walk of life than you. But when you find those people who are more like family than friends, it makes a huge difference. You then have someone to talk to, vent to, lean on, get advice from and who will have your back when you need it. In fact, come find me! I’ll be a part of your tribe!
And remember, this too shall pass. Deployments, separations, PCSing, etc is such a small part/time in your life. And with the right preparation, self-care and tribe in place, you can not only survive, but thrive!
WE HAPPEN TO BE QUOTE LOVERS AROUND HERE – CAN YOU SHARE A FAVORITE QUOTE THAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED?
“Love yourself first, and everything else will fall in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” ~Lucille Ball
WHERE CAN OUR READERS FIND YOU ONLINE?