“Mrs. Moreno”, she called. “Mrs. Moreno”. One of my “Home League” ladies – those who have been here longer than I’ve been alive can’t quite let go of that long-loved name and move into the “Women’s Ministries” era.
No matter how many times I tell her to call me Captain Kelsie, it’s usually Mrs. Moreno. Today we were planning for the next three months of programming, and we can’t do that without coffee and donuts. She was calling my name because we were out of sugar.
“Mrs. Moreno, we’re out of sugar.”
Long before my time, married women officers fought to be addressed by their own rank. Times changed and, true to form, years later so did the Army I love so dearly. Eventually, “Captain and Mrs. Jones” became “Captains Jones”. I remember commenting once that I was glad I would be commissioned by my rank and not my marital status – and was gently chided by a retired male officer who told me what I’m called shouldn’t matter.
It didn’t occur to him that it might be a big deal to me, because he had always been called by his rank.
I was blessed to be among the first session of cadets in which the female cadets could wear pants instead of skirts during the week. Hallelujah, I thought, God called me to training at the right time – I would have never lasted in pantyhose and my skirt every day, all day long. ‘What’s the big deal about pants?’, I recall a male cadet asking me, after overhearing a conversation in which several female cadets were rejoicing over the pantyhose free wardrobe option.
It didn’t occur to him that it might be a big deal to us, you see, because he wore pants every day.
Now before you think all the men who share my calling are callous and ignorant to the places a married woman officer has occupied in this Army, let me assure you that the vast majority of them are enlightened to our situations – and fought on behalf of and alongside us for every bit of equality due us. I’m blessed to be married to one who has never considered me anything less than his equal and often tells me I’m his better.
While we still see few married women in top leadership positions and there isn’t a formal uniform option that includes pants, and there’s still that pesky problem (though it’s getting better in recent years) of Married Women Officers Headquarters Appointments, today another step forward was realized for me and my fellow married female colleagues.
We got our first paychecks.
That journey is a battle that I can’t document here, because I honestly wasn’t on the front lines, I was just a commentator from the sidelines. There are certainly lots of feelings over how long it took and what happens now. It all comes down to this, for me, in the words of Commissioner Carol Seiler: It was the right thing to do.
You can’t really argue with right. It’s right to pay married women officers in their own name, equally to their male and unmarried female counterparts.
A lot was said recently about what people thought we should or shouldn’t do with our paychecks. I believe it was all well-intentioned, yes, even the comments I didn’t find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with – but it got me thinking. What are these ladies that I’m proud to count myself among ACTUALLY planning on doing with it?
My finance minded husband sat down days after the announcement and reworked our budget according to our new income and we did what I imagine a lot of my married comrades did: We discussed what to do with our money.
I asked, ladies, and you answered. Over 100 of you wrote to me to tell me what you’re planning to do with your paychecks.
For our first paychecks, some of us had plans to celebrate. A couple of us are getting tattoos, many of us are treating our families to a nice dinner out, some of us have decided it’s time to splurge a little and get a fresh cut and color or perhaps a pedicure and a massage. Some of us will spend this first one or at least part of it on books, some on their hobbies (knitting being the most popular with scrapbooking a close second), and some of us are choosing to make a special donation out of this first paycheck to a cause we love or in one case, directly to a friend in need.
Collectively, here’s what a lot of us are doing with our money long term.
Many of us are paying for college – both for ourselves and our children.
Most of us are paying down debt – medical, student, and consumer.
Several of us are planning to save for retirement or other future needs – and continue to just live on the amount we lived on before.
Quite a few are taking a vacation – in some cases to overseas relatives we are not often able to see.
Three of us are planning to save for upcoming wedding expenses for your children.
A few mentioned gym memberships in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
One of us is planning to purchase a car for their college bound student and another for their high schooler.
More than a handful are planning on an increase to their grocery budget – the healthy stuff costs more!
One of us is using the money she earns to pay for reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy. (Pray for her with me, won’t you?)
Twelve of us have specific causes we plan to give more money to each month and almost half of us mentioned increasing our giving in general.
To my surprise, several even said they hadn’t really thought about it. They would approach it the same they had all these years – the money would go in the joint checking account, they would write the tithe check, see to the needs of their family, and then see where the Spirit directed them after that.
As for my plans – I took my husband out to dinner tonight. I’m planning to get a tattoo in the coming weeks. I have some friends I want to help out. We plan to save more money each month – for retirement, for traveling, for a rainy day. I’m going to give more to World Services.
Today, when payroll arrived, I was with my Women’s Ministries Group, planning for the next three months after the sugar was refilled and the coffee was brewed. How lovely it was to see their eyes light up with mine when Javier made it a point to interrupt the meeting to present me with MY first paycheck as a married female officer in The Salvation Army.
“Congratulations, Mrs. Mo….err, Captain,” my die-hard Home Leaguer said as she threw her arms around. “It’s about time.”