My husband’s original plan was to fulfill his initial commitment to the Army and then settle down into ‘regular’ life with a wife and family. But then he met me. We married shortly after he commissioned and enjoyed life as just the two of us (cue Bill Whithers) against the world. Children weren’t on our radar and decided early on not to have children until he was well out of the Army. However, here we are 10 years later – my husband is still in the Army (by choice) and we have two phenomenal children and a beautiful dog.
My views about raising children within in the constraints of the military have obviously changed from the ones I held as a young newlywed in my early twenties. I also don’t shop at Hollister anymore so I have grown quite wiser. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the lessons of resiliency this lifestyle provides and about 93% of the time I feel that my children are lucky to have such experiences. That being said, there are certainly times when the military presents a situation that will lead your child to feel a great deal of pain. And as a parent, such these moments are absolutely heartbreaking. But we push on.
I like to think of resiliency as a virtue. The skills and coping mechanisms military children learn are all part of a skill-set that will benefit them greatly in their adult life – adapting to new places and situations, remaining flexible when faced with uncertainty, and being a helping hand to those military families in need are just a few. Weston has lived in 5 homes in 3 states while Virginia is the only home Violet has known. I love the fact that our children will get to sample life in many parts of our great country and hopefully many parts of the world (please oh please let us get OCONUS orders at some point).
My children are only four and (almost) 9 months so they don’t really comprehend what this lifestyle entails. My son doesn’t remember his daddy being deployed for a year and my daughter has two parents present throughout her first year – somewhat of a luxury in the military. Our son knows that his daddy is a soldier and sometimes has to go away for work but he is far too young to understand the complexity of war or the dangers associated with being a member of the military. As he gets older, we know there will be difficult questions to answer but we vow to answer them with grace and understanding.
And most importantly, my children are just that – children. Yes, there are aspects of being a military child that are unique and such circumstances should be recognized and handled with care. But there are a lot of parents out there with jobs that are dangerous and demand time away from home – military children are certainly not alone in that regard. My children have a father who would do anything in the world for them. And he just happens to be a soldier. He demonstrates dedication, honor, and courage on a daily basis – I can’t think of a better role model for our children.
April is Month of the Military Child. If you’re looking for a way to help military children, check out Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships for children of military members killed in action and wounded warriors. You can also donate to the USO.
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