The Meat and Potatoes of Life: A military spouse’s greatest worry is the unknown

| January 29, 2016 | 0 Comments


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

“What’s next? When will we move? Where will we go?”

Like any military spouse, these are the questions that swirl in my mind now that my Navy husband, Francis, is in the last year of his current tour of duty.

But unlike most levelheaded military spouses, I’m one of those people who doesn’t deal well with unknowns.

You know the type. The ones who incessantly scribble lists entitled “Stuff I Gotta Do,” “Movies I Wanna Watch on Netflix,” “Household Projects I Never Quite Finished,” “Weight Loss Goals I’ve Been Working on Since 9th Grade,” “Meals That the Kids Won’t Hate” and “Embarrassing Questions to Ask the Doctor.” Yep, that’s me.

Needless to say, military moves really stress me out. In our 22 years of military marriage, I’ve often told my husband, “I don’t care if we live in a cardboard box under an overpass; just tell me where we’re going, and I’ll plan where to hang the pictures.”

All joking aside, there are legitimate worries that military families face every time they move: Will my spouse have to move without us, so the kids can stay in school? If we decide to “geobach,” how will that affect our marriage? Will I be able to find work in my field? If the kids change schools, will they struggle with a new curriculum or will they have to sit through material they’ve already learned? Will they fit in? Will we be happy?

We have several more months to go before our rotation date, but guaranteed, I’ll work myself into a tizzy over all the unknowns about Francis’ next job and our next home.

To make matters worse, we’re waiting for decisions on our daughter Anna’s college applications. At 17, she’s taking it all in stride, while I’m a veritable basket case.

Where will she go? Can we afford it? Will she need a shower caddy? What if she gets a roommate with green hair and bolts in her face who boils ramen in her hot pot and sets the dorm on fire, ruining Anna’s entire freshman experience?

Our oldest, Hayden, has only two and a half years of college left. If we don’t go bankrupt first, he’ll graduate with a degree in computer science and get snapped up by some tech firm, and then where will he be? Halfway around the world in California?

Will he learn how to iron shirts all by himself? Who is going to pair up all his mismatched socks? Will I have to fly all the way out there to disinfect his bathroom and make sure he’s eating enough  fruit every day?

And what about our youngest Lilly? Will she even be able to get into college with that chemistry grade? Should she forgo college altogether, considering that we’ll be flat broke by the time we pay tuition for Hayden and Anna? Could we all fit in a cardboard box under an overpass if we had to?

It’s not easy being a nut job. I’d much rather be the type of person who drifts contentedly through life like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream, embracing spontaneity while belting out Doris Day’s best “Que, Sera Sera!”

I’ve often wondered, at the heart of all my obsessive planning, if deep seeded “control issues” left unchecked could spiral into a psychotic episode that would leave me wandering in front of the courthouse in a dusty wool coat and a tin foil turban, muttering something about campaign finance reform and pushing a shopping cart full of empty tuna cans.

There I go again. My rational side knows that all the worries in the world won’t change two simple truths of military life: We’ll never know what will happen until it happens. And, just like Doris said, whatever will be will be.
(A military spouse of more than 20 years, visit Molinari’s website at

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