When hanging out with other military spouses, I often feel like the old person in the room. Itís a bit of a novel feeling for me, as Iíve always been the young one in my friend groups. But the longer my husband is in the Army, the older Iíve begun to feel.
Thatís not necessarily a bad thing. I donít mind being the ďoldĒ one, and really for the civilian world, Iím not old at all.
There is one instance, however, where I often get treated as being young and inexperienced, and that is in the realm of kids. I donít have any; Iím not sure if I want any. I donít feel like Iím old enough to handle the responsibilities of another person who solely depends on me for existence.
I donít mind being one of the only people in my military spouse social circle who doesnít have kids. I get called ďAunt AlyĒ all the time by a friendís son. I still get invited to the birthday parties and I go to them without much of an issue. Once I dodge the kid question, I always have a good time, which ends with cake (and really who doesnít love birthday cake?).
I really donít mind kids, and I enjoy being friends with people who have kids. It gives me a bit of insight into what I may decide to experience some day. I donít feel disdain for those who decide to have large Families, and I understand when friends canít hang out because their children are acting out or they might not be able to find a sitter.
A lot of times it feels like my husband and I arenít seen as a Family. We arenít validated as being a Family because itís just us and our dog. But we both feel that we ďstartedĒ our Family the day we got married.
Military events often center around the kids in Families, and those can get tough. We largely donít attend military-related events because of this.
I often feel like a forgotten demographic within the military dynamic. During his first deployment, the support structure was there for Families with kids but not for Families without. Having a little bit more experience now, Iím better equipped to approach my Family readiness group and help out with events that are centered more around the spouse and less around the kids.
But it is a bit of an interesting thing to be an ďolderĒ military spouse without any children. I get asked a lot, ďWell, donít you even want kids?Ē The question gets old.
The problem is that a woman without a child is often seen as selfish or defective. That feeling seems to get even more intensified when living in a tighter community like the military.
And really, itís no oneís business.
People donít necessarily realize it, but by asking someone if they are trying to have kids, or if they want kids, they are digging into the most personal aspect of a coupleís relationship. Some people donít have a choice but to be childless.
Being child free is currently the choice for me and my husband. Itís a choice that we made together ó as a Family.