They have had to say goodbye to at least one parent, not fully understanding when they will see them again. Not fully understanding where they have to go, or why they have to be away for so long. Not totally getting what it means to serve your country.
They have to say goodbye to the dad that makes them laugh, or the mom who helps them with their homework. To their protector, and one of the people they trust the most. And the goodbye is never an easy one.
They go through deployments, day-by-day, just like we do, but this life was never a choice for them. It was the one they were born into, and the life that they know.
They can get scared, and worried about their deployed parent. War is never easy to understand, and even harder for a child to do so. And as much as we are there to comfort them, we wonder if it is enough. We wonder how much missing a parent, for months at a time, will affect them.
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They have to start over, every few years, when they might not totally understand why. When they don’t want to go. When you know they will be missing their friends for years to come.
They move with us, and have to start over just like we do. And if they aren’t the ones to be moving this year, some of their friends might have to. There will always be someone PCSing in their friend circle.
One minute they are playing soccer together, laughing about something little boys do. The next, their friend is on an airplane and your heart breaks when they ask if they can still come to their next birthday party.
Our military children, so strong, so resilient, and yet sometimes it feels like we can’t help them enough. That we can’t comfort them enough. That we, alone are not enough.
Some of us raising these kids were military brats and understand what this is like. These parents remember the moves and the goodbyes. Some of us never moved as a child, and always had a parent in the home, not even going away on a business trip. All of this is just a very different way to live.
Every time we move to a new duty station, we pray for friends for our kids. We pray for stability. And we hope for a good experience.
We think about everything thing our military children have been able to experience because their mom or dad serves in the military. We think about how they were able to visit over 10 countries before they even started kindergarten, or how they were born in another country, with stories and pictures to share for years to come.
We think about all the different people they have had the pleasure to meet over the years. They might not remember the family you spent so much time with when they were toddlers, but you do, and you will always have those photos and memories that you can share as your children grow older.
These military children might have to say goodbye more times in their short lives than you ever would have dreamed. But somehow, they get through each and every one. Somehow, you all work together. Somehow.
And while military life can be so difficult sometimes, these military children are the special ones. They are being raised by our nation’s heroes, are involved in such a diverse and amazing community, and will go on to do some amazing things in the future because of it.
Us military spouses are the backbone and the constant in their lives. We won’t deploy, and we will always be there to hold their hands. We can’t replace our spouse, nor would we want to, but we can be the bridge that helps them through, anything that comes their way.
We hope that when our children are grown, they will remember the good. The trip to Disneyland after dad’s deployment, the move to Germany on their 5th birthday, or the community of friends and loved ones that surrounded them when they had to be so far away from their own grandparents and cousins.
We hope that the scary times don’t overshadow the good ones. We hope that they become stronger through all of this. And we know that no matter what, we love them, their service member parent loves them, and the military community will always be there for them, no matter where they go in this world.