We moved into our townhouse September 2012, after spending almost a month in TLF (temporary lodging facilities) at Joint-Base Anacostia-Bolling. By the time we leave, we will have lived in the Washington DC area a few months shy of three years and our townhouse earns the honor of being the address we’ve had the longest since Clay and I left our homes to attend college out-of-state. When pressed, Clay and I struggle to remember the various addresses we had since we met (last count was at about 15-20) and thank goodness we’re now a cell-phone-only family because the mere thought of memorizing new home phone numbers is absolutely exhausting.
Our first place. Just a typical winter night at Fort Drum, New York.
By the time we leave Fort Leavenworth next summer and settle into our unknown following assignment (likely stateside), the little guy will have lived in five states in six years and the little girl will have lived in three states in three years. Since Clay is in the Army for the long haul, we know that there will be many more moves in our future (please oh please – let one be overseas). Our kids will not have the opportunity to attend the same school throughout their formative years and they will have many more goodbyes and hellos than the average child. There are times when I wonder if we’re doing our children a disservice by choosing to the Army lifestyle but those moments are usually fleeting. Because in our experience, the benefits of raising children within the confines of military life outweigh the drawbacks.
The opportunity to not just visit but immerse themselves in a variety of regional US and world cultures is an education itself far beyond the classroom. The flexibility and sense of adventure that is required to move every 1-3 years is an invaluable lifeskill that will serve them greatly throughout their lives. On the other hand, the hardships military children endure can’t be underestimated – having a parent deploy for months/years at a time can place endless emotional strain on children that they may carry throughout their lives (check out this study – Psychiatric Effects of Military Deployment on Children and Families). As young newlyweds, we would tell people that we didn’t dare have children while Clay was in the Army and planned to wait until he left active duty. Funny how life works out.
The world is peppered with motivational posters declaring life to be an adventure. After all, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing,” as famously attributed (in one form or another) to Helen Keller. Right now, we’re choosing the military lifestyle for our children. We can only hope they grow to appreciate the sense of adventure, the lifelong friendships, and the intense family bond that often accompanies this life. Even if it means have way too many addresses to ever remember.