Military Life With Military Kids
I was holding him, my young son. Just 13 months old. Everything was about to change for him, for us. His Dad, who had been there since day one, was leaving to join the Army.
I was holding him as we waved goodbye. Holding him as we entered into this new life. And I promised him I would always be there, and we would get through everything together.
I didn’t know at the time that it would take closer to five months to join my husband than the one month we were told. I didn’t know at the time how this transition from a civilian family with normal working hours to a military one in the midst of a season of solo parenting would change me.
I didn’t know what was ahead for him. Or for me. Or for any future children we would have.
Over the years, our family has been through deployments, a couple of PCS moves, and what seems like an endless amount of other types of separations.
My husband missed the birth of our second son, and we were not sure if he would end up missing the birth of our third. As a military spouse, I have had to go through many different parenting milestones alone, from potty training to making sure my son got the right diagnosis.
As April is the month of the military child, April is a good month to think back about your own military children and how their lives have been shaped by having at least one parent in the military. How some seasons have been easier for them than others. And how you have all grown together over the years.
We hear that military children are resilient, and they are, but that doesn’t mean the road has been easy. There have been tears, and sometimes we don’t know quite how to handle them.
There have also been adventures, so many adventures, from being able to travel the world at a young age, to experiencing other cultures, many that other Americans don’t get to do until they are deep into their adult years.
Military children learn how to make friends, playing with others at the playground, and being able to be the new kid time and time again. From having to say goodbye to a best friend they might not actually remember in the years to come, to being the one who stays behind.
Military children have to go months, sometimes over a year, without one parent in the house. This can be difficult for the children, maybe too young to understand, and for the older ones, who feel the missing parent on a day-to-day basis.
Military children might not feel like there is one place they can call home, or maybe they will, as one duty station draws them in more than any other. As they look back on their childhood, there will be so many homes and experiences to think about.
Whether your children were born into this life, or they joined along with you at a older age, they will be able to watch their parent put on the uniform and serve their country. They might not have chosen this life, but they can embrace it, through their own military life journey.
Each PCS might not get a little easier, each goodbye might just seem harder than the last, but just as we do as military spouses, military children figure out what works best, and find ways to get through each difficult situation.
They will take what they have learned into their adult years, into future careers, and relationships with friends and family. They will have so many memories to share, and friends in all areas of the world. A military life can be overall amazing, and we hope our children understand and can embrace that as we try to do.