As you may or may not know, we're a "blended" family. And by blended, I mean we're half military, half civilian. To most that means that one spouse is active duty and the other is non military. In our family it means that Nick is Air National Guard. By definition, that means that he's military 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year. In reality, it means he's military whenever Uncle Sam tells him he's military, more on that in a minute We're also a civilian family, with a twist. Nick is a civilian fire fighter on a military installation. So, no matter how you look at it, he's affiliated with the military in some way, shape or form every work day.
Back to the reality of being Guard. While you hear on TV and the radio that Guard is "1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year"that's not always the case; It depends on the job and the unit, and well, it depends on what's going on in the world at the time. As a guard wife, I giggle to myself when I hear those commercials. For the last year, at least, Nick has been going in to the guard base 5-6 extra days a month, depending on the month. There was a time last summer (during the end of my pregnancy) when he was going in on every day off. Coming up in the next few weeks, he will be doing that again. The unit is preparing for a huge inspection, and as Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) in charge of training for the unit's fire department, Nick has a lot of responsibilities for this Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI). The reality of being National Guard is that some units are truly 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year, and some aren't; some are one year, and not the next. And, yes, contrary to popular belief, guard does deploy. A lot. Sometimes more then their active duty counterparts. It's just how it works.
That brings me to us; the family. While I love our Air Guard base, Quonset Point, and the air show/open house they hold every year, there's really not a lot of base to speak of. There is an family readiness group (FRG) (which I've been meaning to get involved in for some time now), a gym, and a tiny little base exchange (BX)...but that's about it. Being that Quonset is about 45 minutes away from our home, it's not realistic to go to the gym there to take advantage of the free membership. One of the benefits of Nick working for the Sub Base is that we have access to all of their conveniences. Just a 20 minute drive from our house, we have access to the pool, bowling alley, movie theater, gyms, Navy Exchange (NEX), and commissary. They are all luxuries that all National Guard members and their dependents are afforded, but not all National Guard families live close enough to a active duty base to take advantage of them. Until we bought our house, we were one of those families. It just didn't make sense to drive 45-60 minutes away to use the gym, or pool.
Before we had Aidan we had not thought much about using anything on base besides the Navy Exchange (NEX) and commissary; now that he's here, I know that we will be utilizing services on base a lot more. In just 2 weeks we start parent/child swim lessons. This is the first 'privilege' as they are called, that we will be taking advantage of. We're also thinking about using the base bowling alley for his first birthday party and he will be baptized in the chapel on base. Since Aidan has arrived we are realizing just how much the base has to offer kids and their families; bowling leagues, swim lessons and all kinds of stuff.
Thanks to the birth of our first child, we are really starting to find our balance between our military and civilian life, and I couldn't be happier!
*Thank you to Jenn for her help editing this post!*