Welcome to the second half of our feature on Inspired Army Spouse, Mandy Costello. If you missed yesterday’s post, you can see it here.
Learning Curves & Over-Committment
There’s much to be learned from the people who have succeeded before us. When I asked Mandy whether she’d do anything differently if she could, her answer resonated with me — and with my motivation for this series of “Inspired Spouse” interviews on Marrying the Army:
I wish I would have sought out wisdom from my husband and other women I admire about their lives. I tried to “wing it” quite a bit and fumbled a great deal with budgeting my time and money, what activities to be involved in, disciplining, meal planning, etc. I over-committed myself a lot. I now know it is SO much easier to ask others whom we know have victory in an area for help!”
Mandy wasn’t kidding about over-committing herself:
I underestimated how time-consuming being a homemaker would be. In an attempt to get involved and stay busy I waaay over-extended myself at times. At one point I was co-leading a Bible study, teaching a Sunday School class, a table leader with my MOPS group, on the Board of Directors for my daughter’s preschool, a co-chair for the Parent Advisory committee for the preschool, and Treasurer for our FRG.”
Is this not a lesson we’ve all learned at some point? Haven’t we all over-committed ourselves? Found our priorities a little bit out-of-alignment? Haven’t we all tried to figure things out on our own because we either didn’t know who to ask for help, or because we were too proud to ask for it?
Mandy’s Advice for You – AND Your Spouse!
Are you considering a big change in your life that will help you better-balance your time as a family, your spouse’s military responsibilities, and your own career? Here are Mandy’s words of encouragement for you:
Give yourself lots of grace and plenty of time. Allow yourself to process through whatever emotions may come. Be honest and open with your spouse about how you’re doing while also remaining open to hear from them on the transition as well. Remain a partnership. And if you are a believer PRAY PRAY PRAY.”
And Mandy’s advice to your spouse?
The same. Also be patient and kind. Be honest. Communicate your own reservations or fears about the transition as well as voice any excitement. Be encouraging and generous.”
Concerns & Fears
Being a military spouse is rewarding, but it can be scary at times, too. I asked Mandy what the hardest part of her transition was, and here’s what she told me:
Being in unfamiliar waters. Even though it was something I wanted neither Kevin or I knew what it would look like or how to make it work well.”
One of Mandy’s only fears about Kevin’s commissioning and her own transition to full-time-mommyhood was that she’d have trouble making connections and building relationships.
That actually ended up being one of the easiest parts about staying home!”
The Unique Struggles & Hardships of Military Life
A year after Kevin commissioned, Mandy and Kevin were separated for 12 months by a deployment to Iraq while Mandy stayed at home caring for their two young kids. She’s earned her stripes as an Army wife, so her views on the ups and downs of military life come from first-hand experiences:
The unique struggles and hardships of military life have served as a fire, refining us and molding us into stronger spouses, parents, friends, Christians.
I have new appreciation for the freedoms I possess. I have a love and respect for my husband that I had never known. I have been privileged to join an elite society of some of the finest citizens who love and serve our country fiercely and freely. I have learned much about myself and my husband.
We are closer and more tightly bonded because of the things we have been through and the ways we have had to lean on one another.”
The Good Parts of Army Life are SO Good and the Hard Parts are SO Hard
These are the kinds of words Mandy has shared with me so often over these first few years of my life in the military community.
The good parts of Army life are SO good and the hard parts are SO hard. Deployments, trainings, conferences, field exercises, etc. are no fun. Time away from my best friend and partner will never get easier or hurt any less. But it does become less shocking, less overwhelming.
Being part of such an elite community also means sharing in the grief of a soldier not coming home or a soldier coming home scarred or changed by war. This life is hard and families take a beating. I have held a dear friend’s hand as she walked through divorce and have cried with another as she mourns over a husband who is constantly angry and distant.
This life means I am forever saying “Hello” and “Goodbye” over and over and over again. Sometimes its tempting to think it isn’t even worth it to introduce yourself or go to that Meet and Greet because the farewells that will happen a year later hurt so much. But, then I remember, I’m actually pretty fortunate to get to experience that hurt.
When I hug a girlfriends neck so tight with tears and goodbyes and gratitude for all that we have shared I am heartbroken but I’m thankful. I know full well the value of that relationship.
I have friends all over the world now. I know that the Army is a small world and has a way of bring people around and back together again. And the more people I love and have the opportunity to be loved by, the richer I am.”
I’m blessed by Mandy’s friendship, and I know that my life is richer for having the opportunity to share this crazy, hard, sometimes awesome Army life with her. Thank you, Mandy, for sharing your story with my readers. I hope I’ve done it justice!
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Sept-2011-Home-from-12-months-in-Iraq.jpg” title=”Home1″ caption=”Kevin’s Homecoming from Iraq” url=”url”]
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Home.jpg” title=”Home2″ caption=”Kevin’s Homecoming – With the Whole Family” url=”url”]
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Promotion-to-Captain.jpg” title=”Captain” caption=”Kevin’s Promotion to Captain” url=”url”]
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Chrsitmas-2012.jpg” title=”Christmas2012″ caption=”Christmas 2012″ url=”url”]
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Zip-Lining-2013.jpg” title=”Zip Lining” caption=”Zip Lining!” url=”url”]
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Memorial-Day-2013-5K.jpg” title=”Wear Blue” caption=”Wear Blue: Run to Remember 5K 2013″ url=”url”]
[images src=”http://www.marryingthearmy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Sea-World-2013.jpg” title=”Sea World” caption=”Sea World Vacation 2013″ url=”url”]
Mandy’s Favorite Books & Resources
A Bible Study I did at the beginning of this transition that was HUGE for me was Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed on the life of David by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer and Kay Arthur”
Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney, on Biblical Womanhood
We also have attended 3 Army Strong Bonds Retreats which have been great.”
Kevin is currently a CPT in the Army. He is currently in the Army’s nurse anesthesia program, which happens to be rated the top program in the country, and is pursuing a 3 year Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). Kevin and Mandy have three precious kids; two girls and a boy.