One month ago today we moved into our home. I’m sure there are many military families out there experiencing some of these moments right along with me….
- You can still spy one or two (or fifteen thousand, if you are like me) of those pesky moving stickers that never seem to EVER go away completely!
- While checking out at Bed, Bath, & Beyond (because you need stuff for your new bed, bath, and… beyond) you pause for a good ten seconds when asked what your zip code is. Zip code… right. WHERE exactly am I again?!
- The idea of going school supply shopping is entirely daunting because, didn’t we just get here?! Now I need to be organizing myself and family for a new school year?!
- Your bucket list for the summer is ten miles long. You MUST see all the new sites RIGHT NOW! Because you know, before you blink you will be looking at a new set of orders and your bucket list will still be about nine miles long.
- You assume all your neighbors have lived in the neighborhood for ages, until you remember it’s a military community and it’s summer and almost everyone is new too!
- Signing your kids up for summer camps and after-school activities feels like the ultimate test of your Mom-hood. This dance studio or that one? We missed soccer try-outs but will they still allow my child to play? Where, exactly, does that swim team compete? Wait, what time does school get out anyway?!
- There is a sense of immense possibility with each new person you meet and each new road you travel.
To all my fellow military spouses out there who are settling in and exploring new hometowns… may this new adventure be your best! And in the words of Matsuo Basho, remember:
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”
This morning while I was getting ready for the day, my kids rolled into a very intense, very passionate argument. The likes of which I’m sure haven’t been seen (or heard!) since the days of old. Or maybe last week. Of course, this argument was about, none other than, Minecraft. From what I can gather from my unavoidable over-hearing, my 4-year old was continually pushing random buttons on his Xbox controller while my 7 and 8-year olds were trying to build something (apparently it was a very important “something” that could not be delayed by random button pushing). I will set the scene for you: To find out what I learned, click here
We recently moved to a very family-friendly neighborhood, which also happens to be a military housing neighborhood. This move has given us the opportunity to live in an ideal setting to take the risk of raising independent children. My kids are ages 8, 6 ¾ (it’s important to him to remember the ¾), and 4, which to me are ideal ages to risk the lessons of becoming an independent child.
My kids are learning the importance of being accountable for themselves. No one else can answer for the choices they make. This accountability is teaching them to think through their choices first, act second. They are testing their nerve and finding out how far they are willing to push themselves, whether it’s the speed they ride their bikes or how high they climb a tree. With that test of nerve I believe they will gain self-confidence as they realize they can do new things because they pushed themselves, not because Mom or Dad told them to try it. They are building a frame of reference on rights and wrongs. They are getting better acquainted with their morals and listening to their own conscience instead of Mom and Dad’s voice. Continue reading about the challenges of raising independent kiddos…
Earlier this summer, while we were still living on the West Coast, a friend convinced me to download Minecraft for my kids. Since then, we’ve had an obsession in our house. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “Can I play Minecraft?” I would be… many nickels richer. I could probably buy my very own crafting table, in real life! My son admitted the other day that sometimes when he looks outside everything looks like squares to him. On occasion I hear “Stampy’s” voice in my head when the kids aren’t even watching him. Friends don’t let friends download Minecraft.
That’s probably a little harsh. In fact, Minecraft afforded my husband and I sanity during our cross-country drive from California to Rhode Island. We were, in fact, that family. The two bigger kids each had a new Kindle Fire, and the littlest had our old iPad (decorated with dinosaur stickers to make it seem fancy and cool even though it wasn’t new). Our Odyssey was decked out with an extension cord, a multi-media plug-in thing that has a WHOLE BUNCH of outlets…. And…. the piece de resistance… a Hot Spot. Boom. The kids were set. More Minecraft goodness here…
April is the Month of the Military Child. In honor of military children around the world, especially the three special ones in my house, I am going to focus my writing this month on them.
As any parent would, I have several lessons I would like to bestow upon my children. As we begin to prepare for another possible move, I find myself thinking about the lessons I would like my three kiddos to learn, specifically from the life as a military family.
Our Country & Our World
- Many people ask us why we do what we do (choosing to be a military family). I bet one day, you too will wonder why our family does what it does. Serving our country is important to your Dad and me. It’s not always easy, but it’s important to be a part of something that is bigger and serves more than just your self.
- While at your young age, our country and world seems totally huge and gigantic… it’s really not. We have one little planet and one human race to take care of; it is our responsibility to do our best. Being a military family is one of the ways our family contributes to the greater good.
- Our country and world are made up of a variety of cultures, incredible scenery, and amazing people… being a military family affords us the opportunity to experience so many unique parts of our world. Open your heart and mind to these cultures, environments, and people… you will be a better person for it!
- We may or may not always agree with the choices our government makes. We may or may not have voted for our leaders. But we are part of a democratic system… it is our responsibility to vote and our responsibility to accept that sometimes our choices might not win out. However, we should always be respectful. Always stand-up and be quiet during the playing of our National Anthem… and if your friends are being loud and disrespectful, nudge them with your elbow and show them what to do.
- Sometimes, moving is the pits: Saying “good-bye/see ya later” to dear friends is hard and it hurts your heart. It’s okay to feel sad when we leave good people and good places… it’s proof that we have lived life to the fullest. Cherish those friendships and memories. They are worth emails, phone calls and texts (when you are old enough to have a phone), FaceTime calls, and plane tickets!
- For anywhere between two weeks and a month (or more?!) all of our household goods are packed up into boxes and put on a truck. We won’t see them, or use them, or need them. This is kind of great. We have each other, we have food, we have enough clothes to get us through. The most important “things” in our life are not our things at all… the movers only have our stuff… we – our family- are our treasures.
- While moving is hard and sad, it is also an awesome adventure that gives us the opportunity to see new places and meet new people. You may have no idea what is waiting for you at our next home, but I guarantee that you have many good things ahead of you. Trust in the future and be bold!
- Not all families get to try on new houses, new neighborhoods, and new cities every three years or so. We get to try new paint colors, new curtains, and new bedroom layouts. We get to make new friends, plant new gardens, and enjoy new seasons. We get to explore new museums, eat at new restaurants, and be a part of a new community. Make the most of where our Navy path takes us; let’s leave a little bit of our family’s love in each new city and take a little bit of that city with us when we leave. Memories will last forever.
- Being a military child, means you have had to spend pretty big chunks of time away from your Dad. This is the hardest part of being a military family, and we (your Mom and Dad) know it’s hard for you too. We are proud of how well you handle this challenge and are impressed by your strong hearts.
- When you struggle with the challenge of Daddy being away and act out at school or home, we understand. While “being frustrated because I miss Dad” is not an excuse for poor behavior choices, we understand you are coping the best you can. Sometimes Mom and Dad are super frustrated and want to have a melt-down too…. Sometimes we actually do!
- When Dad is gone, you are stuck with just me… your mom. I know I don’t have all the answers to your many science-y, engineering-y questions. I know my wrestling, swing-pushing, and daredevil-allowing skills do not reach the supreme level of your Father’s. I know that sometimes it’s probably pretty boring and monotonous to wake-up and see only me all day long, every single day. I know all that, and I’m okay that I don’t measure up to being both Mom and Dad. I give you my very best Mom skills and Mom love, and I fill in as much as I can in the Dad skills and love too… but there is no replacing your Dad, and that’s okay. He’s pretty awesome.
- No matter how far away the Navy sends your Dad, he’s really not all that far away. There is a little bit of him in each one of you and as your Mom, it is a treat for me to see him shine through you! The Navy can’t really separate us from your Dad, because he is always in our hearts and on our minds… and your smiles, and the funny way you sniff your nose, and your laugh, and your dance moves…
Family & Friends
- The military life gives us the opportunity to have friends throughout the Unites States and the world. Not every civilian kid can say they have friends on the East Coast, Midwest, West Coast, Hawaii, Japan, and Germany…. But you can! That’s pretty neat. Enjoy having friends all over the world… keep in touch with them, learn from them, and visit them as much as you can!
- While the Navy has moved us many times, they have yet to move us close to our family. So while our blood-relatives are far away, we lean on and share our daily lives with our military family. These are the people who just so happen to be stationed with us, but who held you when you were first born, cheered for you when you learned how to ride a two-wheel bike, celebrated birthdays with you, listened to you talk about your latest Lego creation, picked you up from school, went to your dance recitals, shared meals with you, shared stories with you, shared memories with you… and so much more. Our family tree is more like a family vine… we have become so entangled with other branches that we can no longer tell where our family ends and theirs begins. We are so very blessed to be part of such an amazing military family.
- We always wish we could see our extended family more. The lucky part of living far away from our family, is that when we do get to see them, we get to have them stay with us! If we lived closer to them we might visit them during the day and then go home to our own homes. But when we are so far apart, they get to come visit with us and tuck you in bed and sing you goodnight lullabies. You get to wake up with them and eat breakfast with them. You get to share your entire every day with them. Visits from your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family may not fully make up for all the time we don’t get to see them, but those visits are so very special and need to be appreciated.
- When it comes down to it, through the moves, the separations, the friends that come and go, OUR military family… the three of you… are the most important thing to your Dad and me. Although we may not be able to “put down roots” I pray that you will always know, without a doubt, that you are rooted in our hearts. No matter where the Navy sends us, you will always have a place to call home because you will always have your Dad and me.