A Bit Different But Mostly Just The Same

**Note: Recently, I've had a huge increase in military viewers (probably because the Marine Corps never tells anyone anything, so Google searches for "Mojave Viper" typically end up on my blog. [Note to Mojave Viper: Make a more informative website. Please and thank you.]) If you find yourself in that category, or even if you have no affiliation with the military, I feel like this post perfectly sums up my relationship with the Marine Corps. There are a lot of blogs out there that are heavily centered around / solely dedicated to the military life, but this isn't one of them. This one is "a bit different, but mostly just the same."**

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Yesterday was Down Syndrome Awareness Day. 3/21, because children born with Down syndrome have three copies of the twenty-first chromosome. I don't personally know anyone with Down syndrome, but my all-time favorite blogger, Kelle Hampton, did the most heart-touching post about it. Seriously, a must-read. As in... go read it right now. Kelle's precious one year old daughter, Nella, has Down syndrome, and her blog (Enjoying the Small Things) has opened my eyes to so many things during the past year.

"Why don’t I talk about Down syndrome more often? Because this blog is about our life, and our life is not about Down syndrome. I made the decision early on to keep this blog what it has always been, and figured Down syndrome would find a cozy spot on its own. It has…on this blog, in our home, in our hearts."

Kelle seamlessly writes about her life raising two beautiful daughters... one of which happens to have Down syndrome. There are things in her life that are different---medical terms she's familiar with, concerns that she has to occasionally worry about---but that doesn't define her. It doesn't define her family. Because it's not what her life is about.

Just like my life is not about the Marine Corps.

Don't get me wrong---my life is greatly affected by the Marine Corps. Because of the Marine Corps, I've been in a long distance relationship for almost three years. Because of the Marine Corps, acronyms like CGRI, LTI, PFT/CFT, OCONUS, OPSEC and MARSOC are normal terms in my everyday vocabulary. I can spot an EGA from miles away and my inbox is full of messages from the FRO. Going a month or more without seeing my best friend is completely normal. I've touched machine guns and used optics that cost more money than I'll ever make in my lifetime. So yes, there are many aspects of my life that are different, incredibly different, because I date someone in the Marine Corps.

But it's not what defines my life, my relationship.

"Mostly, I don’t see chromosomes, I see kids. And that’s what I want the world to see too... I am caught up in the thrill of motherhood and the joy of raising two girls who are a bit different but mostly just the same."

Oh, Kelle. I get it, I really do. Because mostly, I don't see a Marine. I see a man who fervently loves God & his family & his country & me with every single piece of his enormous heart. I see a man who gives of himself in such an altruistic manner with a humility unlike anything I've ever experienced. And that's what I want the world to see too. Yes, he's also a Marine. But that is simply one of the many things that describes him, not defines him.

Obviously, I don't know how people respond when you tell them that you are the parent of a child with Down syndrome, but I imagine the responses would be very similar to the ones I receive when I say that my boyfriend is about to deploy overseas. Instant awkwardness. People mean well--they really do--but who knows what to say in a situation like that? Everyone instantly feels sorry for you. They have questions, but they don't want to ask them because they don't want to upset anyone. They want to say something, anything, in attempt to make it better, but it's so much easier to comment on babies living in dorms and shells with shoes and creepy voices than it is to talk about deployment and war.

And I just want the world to know that it doesn't have to be that way.

The Marine Corps is a part of my life---a part of my (and Zach's) life that affects nearly everything. But our life is not defined by deployments and the military. I'm not feeling sorry for myself because Zach is deploying. Neither is Zach. There's no need for anyone else to feel sorry for us either :) It's beyond perfectly okay to talk and ask questions and learn about it, just like it's okay to talk and ask questions and learn about Down syndrome...or any other "taboo" subject, for that matter. It doesn't have to be such an awkward, hush-hush thing, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share that with my little slice of the world.