By Laura Kaae
Killeen Daily Herald
I'm jealous of my Iraq-bound husband, and I'm pretty sure that's not how I'm supposed to feel right about now.
This whole sending-a-spouse-off-to-war business is a first for me, but to he honest, I never imagined it'd be this way.
I thought I'd be overcome with sadness and worry – I am.
I wondered how on earth I'd spend my time when he leaves – I still ponder that daily.
I thought I'd want to spend every waking moment with him before he leaves – which is true in that I all but stalk my own husband.
But I never imagined I'd be overcome with jealousy, yet that's exactly how I'm feeling these days.
War sucks, I know. I'm reminded of this daily.
My husband soon is heading into this nightmarish war, and I should be glad that it's not me heading overseas.
But I'm not.
Not one bit.
In fact, the other evening Mike brought home a whole heap of new Army Combat Uniform-patterned stuff that he opened like a kid on Christmas morning on the kitchen floor while I made supper. But I was so busy being a begrudging brat that I barely looked at the poor guy.
Four new flight suits and two new pairs of combat boots, new T-shirts and socks, a rucksack and multitool, hats and a sleeping bag, a new duffle bag he brought home, and more.
And was I being the supportive Army wife I should have been?
Instead of poring over his new equipment, asking questions and offering to help him open packages, I turned my attention to the pasta on the stove, barely casting a glance at my husband as he tried to show me his new toys.
"Sweetie, look at this!" I heard more than once.
But being the covetous meanie I have become these days, I shrugged or looked away.
Instead of offering help, I just said, "You get everything."
Now before you begin thinking I'm being a selfish, nutty wife here (which is probably true), let me backtrack a bit.
Before I met Mike, I was planning on enlisting in the Army.
It was a longtime dream of mine that started probably sometime after Sept. 11, 2001, and increased constantly as I watched and read media coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I supported the mission in Iraq and wanted to be a part of it – badly.
For once in my life, I wanted to be brave. I wanted to earn my own combat patch and honor my family, a group with a longstanding tradition of military members.
So in January 2007, everything was all set for me to enter the military, and I was just a few pieces of paperwork away from getting my own set of ACUs and tan-and-green-colored equipment to line the kitchen floor with. My own combat boots and rucksack – my own chance to make a difference in this war.
I've heard more than once that I "don't seem like the type" to be a soldier (whatever that derogatory statement means) and that alone has made me want to do it even more.
Though I was days shy of entering the military – a profession both my grandfathers and both of my parents called their own – something stopped me when I met Mike.
Within a week or two of meeting each other, Mike and I knew we'd found that someone special we wanted to be with forever. Like so many military spouses, I made the choice to love my soldier and follow him, rather than continue on the path I was heading at that time. Rightfully so, love trumped my military ambitions, and I decided to hold off on enlisting.
Over time, I thought, my husband hoped, and my parents crossed their fingers that those military yearnings of mine would go away.
But marrying an Army guy, moving to this military town, working for this newspaper that sits all but next door to Fort Hood, befriending the military reporter and covering Army events haven't squelched my dream of "going green" – they've increased them.
Mike soon will leave for Iraq, and instead of helping him prepare, I find myself being reluctantly supportive.
Horrible, I'm aware.
The great thing about my husband is that he's nice to me, despite my bouts of brattiness.
He knows it's not that I'm jealous "he got a bunch of free stuff"; rather, I'm envious that he's the brave one.
Mike knows how proud I am of him. He knows how much I look up to and respect him as a soldier and how much I want to be just like him.
I'm just not too sure how much longer I can hold out for my own chance to earn a kitchen full of ACUs and combat boots.
Laura Kaae is a new Army wife who lives in Nolanville with her husband, Mike, a Black Hawk pilot in the 4th Infantry Division. Laura, a features reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.