Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Army Wives: the show vs. real life

A lot of people have asked me what I think about the new Army Wives show on Lifetime. Gee... I don't know. I don't need someone telling me about my life. I don't need people glorifying and romanticizing what I go through. And I certainly don't need anyone thinking that the show is real life. It's Hollywood. It's Desperate Housewives on an army base. I don't like Desperate Housewives, so why am I going to like Army Wives?
If you have no clue what I'm talking about, click here to see the first two episodes.
Here are some of the things I see wrong with the show (and yes, I know the show is fiction!):
~Where the heck do they live that they get nice housing like that?! Seriously, if you came here to Ft. Polk, Louisiana, you would see housing that would make your stomach turn. And yes, we HAVE to live here because the alternative is worse.
~If a wife ever spread a lie so that another wife's husband wouldn't get promoted, there would be serious ramifications. UCMJ would be involved and ranks would be taken away. Period.
~As far as the whole surrogate mother thing goes, her hubby is in Delta Force and yes, he could be kicked out if his commanding officer ever found out he was in debt. Delta is the highest, most special operations unit you can possibly get in, and there are very strict rules to being there. They will easily kick you out and put you back into regular army circulation for breaking any of the rules. It is that strict. So ya, if a wife was doing surrogacy to get more money because they were in debt, she'd have to keep it secret. (If you have no clue what I'm talking about, watch the show.)
~There's a lady who married a soldier after just meeting him in a bar. Guess what? It happens a lot. You see them in their uniform and they act all big and tough and you just can't resist. Here's this real live superhero standing right before you and you see shows or read books like Army Wives and it all seems so romantic. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. But really, a lot of military marriages fail. I think it's hard to pinpoint just why. It's a stressful life, but so is over-the-road trucking and police and firefighters and doctors....
~The "FRG". This part cracks me up! There is no "team" of FRG ladies that wander around with baskets of cookies. The FRG (Family Readiness Group) is a support group for military families. Each unit has their own FRG and it's usually broken up into smaller sections to make it easier to get the word out and have meetings. I volunteer frequently with my FRG. I am a Point of Contact for our platoon. It doesn't really mean much, but I get info firsthand from the FRG leader, which is nice. Then I have to pass it along to the spouses/wives in my husband's platoon. I don't walk around dressed to the hilt handing out cookies and giving parties. Neither does my FRG leader, or the leader above her or the leader above her. It's just a support group. Some units, like mine, has very active FRG's. Other units never even hear a word from their FRG's. They are most helpful on deployments, and they can be there to help notify a spouse that their loved one was killed in action, but it's not their job to be. There are special grief advocates for that.
~The other thing I find hysterical is the guys walking around in their dress uniforms. Ok, really, that *never* happens! I've seen my hubby, in the past 7 years, in his dress uniform just a hanful of times. He certainly doesn't just walk around in it for no reason!
~The guys are not going to be sitting at their kitchen table cleaning their weapon. Ever. Ever.
~I don't know any wives who actually do their husband's deployment packing list for them. That's the soldier's job. Not ours. If something is missing, or forgotten, or the wrong color or shape or size... the guys could get in a lot of trouble. It's up to the soldiers to make sure they have everything they need.

So now that I've totally ruined the show for everyone, you can see why I don't need to watch a show to tell me what an army wife is supposed to be like.
This is my day as an army wife:
~4:30 am, wake up with hubby, make sure he has everything to start his day, see him out the door
~5:00 am, go back to bed
~6:30 am, get up and get the kids ready for school
~7:00 am, see the kids on to their school bus
~7:30 am, hubby comes home for "breakfast break" after morning PT. Make him breakfast while he takes a shower
~8:30 am, hubby goes back to work (whatever that is)
~9:00 am, the baby gets up
~10:00 am, off to playgroup (usually)
~11:30 am, hubby comes home for lunch break
~12:30 pm, hubby goes back to work (again, whatever that is)
~afternoon, baby takes a nap and I do some chores. yipee.
~3:30 pm, kids get home from school and do homework
~5:00 pm, get dinner ready
~6:00 pm, or 6:30 or 7:00 or 7:30 depending on who's in charge, who got in trouble, who needs extra counseling, or what he was doing that day, hubby gets home and either eats dinner with us or eats the plate I left in the fridge for him
~8:00 pm, two older kids go to bed
~9:00 pm, baby goes to bed
~9:30 pm, hubby and I finally get alone time
~10:00 pm, hubby goes to bed

Throw in some computer time, running errands, and maybe taking a nap once in awhile, as well as going out to lunch with friends one or two days a week, and you've got my oh so glamorous life as an army wife.
Now don't get me wrong, it's great to fantasize about what it's like to live in a world other than your own. Like how wonderful it would be to live life in Meredith Grey's shoes for one day, or Susan, Lynette, Brie and Gabrielle's lives... but I personally don't really care to see a glorified version of how someone perceives army wives to be. And trust me when I say, there's nothing romantic about fearing for you husband's life every waking (and sleeping) moment. How this show can romantisize a deployment, I will never understand. What we go through when our loved ones are gone is far from glorious. It's a lot of tears, a lot of stress, a lot of worry, a lot of sleepless nights and fear and what-if's and imagining the worst and "how will I tell his mother?" and explaining to the kids every single night why daddy isn't here to tuck them in and.... you get the picture.
My suggestion to anyone who wants to get involved with helping the troops or supporting the spouses left behind is... just help them. Don't watch a show and think you know what we go through. Take dinner to a friend who's hubby is deployed. Offer to help her plant some flowers. Send packages to the troops. Ask me, I've got a ton of good websites to visit. Click on my link on the side that says ""Let's Say Thanks". Watch the show and enjoy it, but remember, we're real and the real wives sometimes need help. But we won't ask for it. We're a proud sort of wife.

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