Month of the Military Child
Although I had an Uncle and a Grandfather who both served, I, myself did not grow up in a military family. I never knew what was like to be a military brat.
As I got older, I started to become fascinated with the Military. This led me to become a commissioned officer straight out of college. Never did I really think about raising two military brats of my own.
Now my children are 18 and 16. They have spent all their lives surrounded my men and women in uniform. All of mommas and daddy’s friends. That’s all they knew.
From the time they were born they have moved from different houses, day cares, home care givers, friends, schools and now college.
We have always tried to make it an exciting experience for them but as they started getting older the excitement started to faded. They didn’t want to move anymore. They were tired of starting over. They just wanted to stay in one home and in one location. That’s when it was time to say, I’m sorry kiddo, but that’s they way the Army life is. It’s time to move on to another location because duty calls. Not the answer anyone wants to hear but it was real life.
As we have gone through our career we often forget the affect it has on the children. As I look on them now, I realize how they are the most resilient human beings I have ever seen. They really had no choice. They have roughed it out each time. They started out nervous on the first day of school to making a new best friend by the end of the week. At first it was “I don’t want to move” to “I don’t want to leave”. It got harder each time.
Now, I have a college freshman in a whole other state. She grew up so independent that it brings me to tears to see how much she has gone through to be here. She has struggled mentally. She has become the independent young woman that I hoped she would be. She is on her own and I couldn’t be more proud. I also have a high school sophomore. He has just rolled with the punches and is just trying to make it. He has struggled as well and has come a long way to get here. Change was not easy for him. Even though he said he didn’t care, deep inside he did. He is one tough kid and I am proud of how far he has come. The last three years has not been an easy road and we need to remember not to leave our children behind.
Raising military children is one of the hardest things to do. Whether you are dual military or not we need to try and include them in the decision making process. We need to explain this life to them. Military families are not like any other. We are a special kind of family who gets to make new friends and see new places every 1-3 years. Talk to them. Explain it to them. They are a lot smarter than we may think. Now that I see my babies as young adults, I see how this life was not the easiest and they grew up fast.
Although they are independent, smart and resilient, they still need us.
Remember that the military life isn’t forever. Your family is.