Balancing Life As An Army Wife With A Full-Time Career
In India, a marriage is not just the coming together of two people, but of two families. So when a girl marries a military personnel, she marries the army and the unit also becomes her new family.
She is also looked after and cared by others and she assumes a new role - she is expected to find herself in the hierarchy. The girl must also find her purpose and fulfil her responsibilities too. Although she is embraced and welcomed as the daughter-in-law in the system, she must quickly learn that she has duties too.
A girl who comes from a “civilian” background may take some time to understand these concepts, this umbrella of support and what it really means. You must know that an officer is always busy and usually assumes that his wife will find her feet – which she does.
Fortunately for me, my father was an Army officer so things weren’t exactly new but weren’t the same as well.
Unlike my father, my husband would leave home at the crack of dawn, after I would serve him breakfast, as he was an Instructor in Gunnery at the Armoured Corps Centre and School.
I would have to close the windows of our temporary house near the Tank Track, to shut out the tones of dust thrown up by the tanks. For a young bride straight out of a college hostel, I had to develop my culinary skills, keep a meticulous home as it was a common practice for friends to pop-in, attend ladies club and all social and official functions and that too, in a saree!
We also had to move a lot as it seemed that all warfare was restricted to classrooms because my husband would have to complete course after course, which became the reason behind our frequent moves every year. We lived grandly on a shoestring budget - but I had no thought of a career then.
It was after the children came and I had put the little one in the nursery when I got a call from their principal to put in an application for a job in the school. But the question was - did I want to teach?
I was hesitant but I applied, joined and did a great job! I enjoyed the satisfaction and gratification that I got every day to see my students grow and bloom. My students became a part of our family conversation and I realized that I had so much to give and share.
More importantly, I recognised that if I wanted to accompany my husband wherever he got posted, this was the best career option for me. Soon, I did BEd and Masters and became a part of an invaluable pool of teachers around the country who were in it for the love of it. I became an army wife!
I always had enough time for my children and husband, and also for his official commitments and my welfare responsibilities. My experiences across the country helped me immensely, and when my husband had many schools under his command as a senior commander, I could also add value to them.
So, I believe that one can contribute and achieve anything - it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you have that passion in you. So, all the army wives, go and find your own true calling NOW!
This is a personal narrative by Mohini Daljeet Singh. She is a social worker and an educationist, and has spent more than three decades doing social and welfare work to benefit army families. The CEO of Max India Foundation, Mohini Daljeet Singh has worked for the underprivileged on the health platform benefitting lakhs and has partnered with over 400 NGOs.