By the time this article is up on my blog, my husband would probably have just gotten back from work, after being on a 24 hours duty. He is a military personnel and I am a military wife.
While my husband was away on duty, I was handling our two children by myself. Mealtime, bathtime, bedtime, happy times, angry times, funny times and whatever other times I shared with the children, my husband did not get to participate.
Those whose spouses are uniformed personnel would know that as the other half, we are expected to handle our children single-handedly often. Being a uniformed personnel often means being on standby for any call ups, whether due to emergencies or as a drill to make sure all personnel are always prepared and ready to protect Singapore and her people.
Standby call ups aren’t the only times that my husband has to be away from us. During certain parts of the year, he gets very busy at work. When that happens, he leaves the home before anyone of us is awake and comes home after we are all in bed. There are also those days when he may have to go overseas for military exercises as training, and such training can take days, weeks or even months.
If your spouse is a uniformed personnel, whether in the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Police Force or the Civil Defence Force, you can probably identify with my sentiments that at certain periods of the year, you may be left to feel like a “single parent”.
When the children have some event in school that involves parents and your spouse is busy serving the nation, you are the one who attends the event.
When your children fall sick and need attention and care and you need help, you sometimes cannot even get your spouse on the phone because the mobile phone is not allowed in certain parts of his or her work place.
When your children are upset and don’t want you but cry for Papa or Mama who is away serving the nation, you cry quietly in your heart because you miss your spouse too.
When you are angry with your children and wish you could get a breather, you can’t because your spouse is still away on that month long work exercise overseas.
When you are exhausted beyond words and wish your spouse could chip in with household issues, you hold back your comments and do things by yourself anyway because you know your spouse is probably also exhausted after a 24 hour shift at work.
When your children are finally asleep after a long day, you say a prayer for your spouse, asking God to keep him or her safe while on duty.
There are a lot of other things I can add to this list and I am sure fellow spouses of uniformed personnel can too. It can get very very tough when our other halves are not always available for the family because of their duties and their parts in serving the nation.
So what keeps us part time “single parents” going?
It is in knowing that the sacrifices that our uniformed personnel make contribute to the peace that Singapore enjoys and the security that keeps everyone in the nation safe. It is in knowing that because of the (extremely) long hours our spouses put in, the rest of Singapore can sleep soundly and safely at night.
For me, personally, the biggest reason is that I know that my husband takes his job very seriously and takes pride in every bit he can do for Singapore. Because I am proud of my husband, I am willing to endure the “single parent” periods and tell myself to look forward to when the duties are over and we can all be together as a family again.
As Singapore celebrates its birthday, I salute all uniformed personnel and thank you for all the duties you have had to serve just so that the rest of us can sleep, and our children can play in a safe environment. Thank you for the days, weeks and months you have had to be away from family, just so your skills are sharpened and kept current. Thank you for all the extra hours you put in just to get things done right for the nation.
I also want to salute you, fellow spouse of a uniformed personnel. Thank you for single-handedly handling all your children and everything in the household while your spouse is playing an important role. Thank you for being stronger than you ever thought you could and manage all the children even when you badly need a break from them. Thank you for being supportive to your spouse even when you have run out of energy for your own matters. Thank you for being understanding even when you didn’t understand why your spouse has to keep on being away for work.
Most of all, fellow spouse, thank you for enabling your other half so that Singapore can be kept safe.
For most people, the peace and security that Singapore enjoys today seem only natural. But for those of us who have to be part time “single parents”, we know that peace and security come with a price.