If you want to see a microcosm of family dynamics in the military, you only need to look at the logistics of the annual holiday party. You have single Soldiers, Soldiers who are married with no kids, and some with kids. On top of that, you have the unit leadership. They all have very different wants and needs.
The single Soldiers need to come in early to prep for the meal. They are told that they are doing this so that those with guests and family can accompany their families to the day’s activities. Many of these people will grumble. Like many young people, they will likely think mostly of themselves. They will wish they had a spouse and kids so they wouldn’t have to stay late because, in addition to coming in early, they have to stay to clean up.
The Soldier with a spouse and no kids can come in slightly later than the Single folks. They are happy they aren’t single any more. They get to come with their significant other and leave when the briefings and the meal is done. They don’t necessarily want to be there. They want to bail as soon as possible to get on with their day, with their new spouse. It’s an easy day, one of the few in the military. When they leave, they will think of themselves and what they will do later on.
The Soldier with a spouse and kids usually has been talking to his/her family for weeks. He/she is telling the kids that Santa will be there and they will get a present, they’ll meet other kids from the unit, and maybe encourage them to make new friends. These Soldiers are happy to be there - they want to show off the Army to their family, and their beautiful families to their Army friends. They can come in later and they appreciate what the single Soldiers do and are happy to see their kids being able to do crafts, eat cookies, and have a great time at the unit. When they leave after the meal, they are thinking of their kids and how much fun they had. They will remember seeing their kids interact and they think about the memories they will have.
Finally, you have the unit leadership. They usually will come in and help set up. They will serve the meal. They will contribute to extra things for the kids. They will do all of this while still having their families attend and conducting unit business. They do this so they can allow families to be together. Sometimes their own families will have to fend for themselves as others try to steal leaders away for various reasons, but that’s what being a leader is about: taking care of everyone under his/her charge.
When you think of hosting a QC on a holiday, or having to mop the drill shed floor after the dinner, remember that being in the military isn’t about what’s in it for you. You are a team, a family. Each member has his/her own job and in order for it to function optimally, we all need to do our jobs. Sometimes it will be happy, and sometimes there will be complaining while we do it. Know that if you are doing your job, others who you are taking care of notice and are thankful for it. And remember that there is someone who did it long before you did, and most times they will be right there with you helping to clean up.
What are your experiences with organizational days?
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