Confessions of a Military Wife
by Mollie Gross
The worst judgment placed upon me as a military wife came shortly after my husband left for his year-long deployment. I remember it vividly: As a physically challenged wife, my ability to travel alongside Eric to different duty stations will always be limited. Within the EFMP (Exceptional Family Members Program) building, I was handed a two-page list of physical and mental challenges I could and could not have in order to go with him to Japan. Needless to say, a walking handicap placed me on the uninvited list.
When Eric shipped out, I shipped home. Two months later, accusations reared an ugly, brown-haired head (childishly on Facebook) by individuals I trusted. They said I willingly remained behind in order to drink my martinis and enjoy more shopping. At first, I laughed and viewed the comment(s) similarly to the sight of a teenager walking around in 10-degree weather wearing only shorts and a sweatshirt: What a hilarious and delusional twit! Though I’ll never feel badly enjoying a cocktail or sale at Barney’s, an attack on my dedication to my husband is, in my book, a declaration of war.
Immediately, I recruited Mollie Gross’ outspoken work, “Confessions of a Military Wife,” to help me defeat such asinine persecution. First discussed last December, “Confessions of a Military Wife” has solidified itself “the Chelsea Handler of the milspouse community,” according to Military magazine. As a Marine wife, standup comedienne, public speaker and author, who does more than understand the struggles military spouses endure, it’s no wonder military sisters of the Port City and beyond have chimed in to learn more about Gross’ book.
“After 911 there was a new generation of military women.” the author began, as we chatted about her novel. We spoke so candidly that it hardly seemed like an interview. “Many people forget that wives need a morale booster, too—especially during deployments. I knew right away when I was going through my first deployment I wanted to write, ‘Confessions of a Military Wife.’ We serve, too, right alongside our husbands. It’s is so essential to their service. … They needed to know that—hands down! People crap on women who stay at home. It pisses me off! I don’t think people get it. When our husbands are away, suddenly military wives become married to each other. Not everyone grieves the same way, not everyone goes through deployments the same way. Quit judging.”
Since far too many military novels focus on the serious and tragic instead of the unmentioned entertaining bits military life offers, Gross took an unfettered comic approach to her book. And it paid off. Big. The success of “Confessions of a Military Wife” accomplished two of her goals: to divert our attention away from the hardships that surround us and inspire our dispositions.
“Many [books] were just full of facts,” Gross said, reflecting on the writing process. “Nothing was full of the awkward stuff wives go through, like being near a wife of a higher ranking marine. I wanted to talk about it, because no one else was. I tried to do enough to address the concerns that I know my fans have. I wanted to be silly. I tried to put enough in [the novel] to give encouragement without giving [too many] private details. I can be very candid about throwing a fit. Things that involved others, I had to respect that. I only wish I put more about my grandmother and her amazing stories in there.”
Despite her wacky approach and the popularity of “Confessions of a Military Wife” (Yuma, Arizona’s USMC Air Station had to send their library copy to 29 Palms in California to keep up with demand), Gross also snagged nuggets of negativity. Like the backlash of Lilly Burana’s “I Love a Man in Uniform,” which was banned from a reading at West Point, Gross, too, was excluded from military functions. It wasn’t Gross’ book that came under scrutiny but her comedic act.
“I’d clear a date and then find out I was canceled,” she noted. “They’d say they went on YouTube and saw my act has adult content. Are you kidding me?” (We laughed at the enchanted notion that members of our military don’t use foul language.)
“I’ve never made fun of or pin-pointed someone in my audience,” she said. “I’m self-deprecating. Yes, I’ll say a couple colorful words, but being canceled because of it broke my heart. I’m there for so many reasons. There’s a lot I want to tell people that isn’t just funny.”
While Gross admittedly juggles the idea of soothing our soul with a second novel (she‘s not promising), she urges encore bookworms in the meantime to visit her fan page, www.molliegross.com. There, wives of every branch can post pictures of their favorite ass-kicking stilettos (like those found in the book), snag signed copies of her work, enjoy morale boosters like, My Hubby’s Craziest Deployment Picture Contest, or simply write in to “Ask Mollie,” a weekly section devoted to answering everything and anything a wife in the military ponders.
Oh, and for “priority” shoppers—ya know, like me?—check out her signature tank top, “Semper Feisty.” Over an Appletini, of course. Oorah!