I attended my first annual Marine Corps birthday ball with my husband in 2003. After a while, it can start to feel like a huge chore to prepare for. Every year I have to shop for a new dress, not because I want a new dress, but because none of the five that are hanging in my closet are my size this year. The new dress will need to be tailored because I’m not a 6 foot tall supermodel. Of course my nails have to be manicured, and I like to try to color the gray out of my hair. My mascara always seems to be dried out, and that’s just not a good look, so I’ll need to remember to hit the cosmetics counter at some point. I will need to find a sitter for the kids and draft a plan for the night to include meal instructions, bedtime routines, and tantrum aversion techniques. It always breaks my heart to see my babies cry as mom and dad leave the house and I can’t relax and enjoy the evening until I know they’re happy and tucked in to bed, so I text back and forth with the babysitter though the evening. I don’t always have a sitter that I can call on, though. I’ve had my mom fly in to babysit (thanks mom!) because we hadn’t yet settled in enough at our new assignment to know someone that I would trust to leave my children with. I’ve been to birthday balls while pregnant, and I’ve had to excuse myself to nurse a baby who is sleeping in a near-by hotel room. We’ve traveled hundreds of miles for “destination balls” in casinos, which is really fun when you’re young and have no kids, but not so much when you’ve got to cram your post-pregnancy-body in to the tight space between the car seats of your 2 year old and three month old and attempt to entertain them for hours on end.
Needless to say, most years, by the time we’re off to the ball I’m feeling flustered after rushing out the door, and tired from all the preparation it took to get everything in to place. But then I get a good look at my handsome Marine. There’s nothing like a man in uniform, and this uniform, graced only by the Marines, is the best looking uniform there is. We sit down around a table amongst Marines in their “dress blues”, and I’m reminded what we’re there for. It makes me proud to support my husband and all Marines as they celebrate their rich culture and history. It’s inspiring to see the magnitude of respect they have for their Corps, and the way they embrace the core values and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
I pulled out a gown from my closet this morning, tried it on, and cried a few tears of regret that we won’t make it to the ball this year. I hope that at least one more time, before my husband’s Marine Corps career comes to an end, I’ll have the honor of accompanying my Marine to the ball. There is nowhere else that I feel as proud as I do on the arm of my decorated Marine Officer.
Instead of wallowing tonight about missing our birthday ball, I’m giving thanks that I have my Marine home with me. I’m thankful that he’s here to kiss our kids goodnight and that when I go downstairs after putting them to bed we’ll sit together to watch T.V. He’ll be next to me in bed as the sun rises, when two in the bed becomes five. Tonight I’m thinking of the Marines who are away from home and their families who await their return. We are so fortunate to have them protecting our freedom so fiercely, and I'm praying for their safe return home. Happy 237th birthday Marines!