Today is my mom’s birthday. I so wish I could be with her today. I would have taken part of the day off to take her to breakfast or lunch, probably both. We all could have joined her for a family dinner that night. My boys and I could have made her a cake and opened presents together.
But instead, I will give my mom a call later today, hope that the package I sent for her birthday makes it in time, and think about how in the future maybe, just maybe we could be together for our birthdays.
Living far away from family can be challenging, and military families have to do this for most of their time in the service. Some are lucky and are able to live close enough to visit often, or their family will move to be with them.
But for everyone else, raising your children far away from your family is a part of the military life package. It’s something you have to get used to and make the best of. Because there isn’t much you can do about it.
To the military spouse far away from family, I know being away can be hard.
To have to miss the little things going on back home.
Sunday dinners with the family
Date nights while your children are safe with grandma and grandpa
Grandparent’s Day at school
Taking your brother or sister out for their birthday
Mother’s Day at Grandma’s house
Being there when a family member is hurting
The list could go on and on…
What we miss can hit us hard, even when we least expect it. When we can’t go home for Christmas, we can tell ourselves that we are fine with that, but when the day comes, the sadness can hit us hard. Just a reminder that you are living your life in a different way than you thought that you would.
As a military family, you become the ones that are always visiting but never really there. Your children are the visitors, the ones that don’t know what it is like to live near family and all the blessings that can bring.
This can be so difficult because as parents we always want the best for our children. We want them to feel all the love that they can. And we know that by living across the country from the people we love the most hurts, and in ways, our children might not even realize.
How do you make the best of being away from family?
Take trips home
When you can take a trip home, do so. Visiting will help with the distance, even if you can only do so every few years. Encourage your family to come out and visit you too.
If you are stationed in Europe, encourage your family to visit for a few weeks. This could be their only chance to visit Europe, and they can do so without having to spend a dime on a hotel. Check for airline discounts and make plans when your spouse has leave coming up.
Talk on Facetime. The kids love this, and it is so nice to see people on video vs just hearing their voice. Try to set up a regular day each week to Facetime so that everyone is ready for the call.
There are so many more ways to talk with people today, even from thousands of miles away. Take advantage of them.
Share stories and photos
Facebook is ideal for this. Share stories about your kids as well as photos. The more your share with your family members, the more they will get to know the personalities of your children.
They will learn more about your daily life and what you have been up to. Long email updates can work too. Keeping the people back home updated is how to stay bonded through the distance. Hopefully, they will be doing the same.
Think of what you have gained
Believe it or not, there are benefits to raising your family far from home. Your friendships can be deeper because you are spending more time with those you have chosen to call your friends. You spend the holidays together, get through deployments together, and can bond in ways you never would with your family.
Being far away means you won’t be involved in as much family drama. This can be important for some families. It’s easy to think that everything will be perfect if you could just live near them too but daily life, different emotions, opinions, as well as expectations, can leave to tensions within a family.
Remember, this isn’t forever
Although it might seem like you will always be so far from them, things will change. If you are overseas, you will eventually move back to the States. If you live on the East Coast, you might end up on the West Coast.
Your family could move, or you could get out of the military and settle near them too. Being away from family doesn’t always last forever so keep that in mind when you are missing them the most.