Army brats, that is.
Georgia, Hawaii, Virginia, Kansas, and New York are the states they have lived in. Some they’ve lived in twice. The girls have spent a lot of time throughout their childhoods being “the new kid.”
They’ve waved their father off on deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq four times since 9/11. Worrying about his safety, celebrating birthdays with one parent, and taking on non-kid roles around the house are all as routine to them as waking up every morning.
Because of this lifestyle, my girls are resilient, excellent at advocating for themselves, independent, confident and extremely close to one another.
Have you thanked a military child today? When you are thanking a military member for their service, kids LOVE it when you shake their hand and thank them too. Frequent moves, deployments, and parents missing school events, holidays and birthdays aren’t always easy to understand or accept. Despite all this, these kids are proud of the sacrifices they make to support their parents and country.
What’s harder? Saying goodbye to a deploying parent or welcoming them back into your home? Definitely welcoming a deployed parent home again and absorbing them back into the fabric of family life. Expectations on both sides are incredibly high and often result in disappointment. New family routines have been developed, people have assumed different roles and are more independent which leaves the deployed parent feeling out of place or left out. The camaraderie that once existed between parent and child is often absent leaving relationships feeling awkward. Being reprimanded by a returning parent is especially harsh for a military child as they often idolize the parent while deployed.
Isn’t moving all the time hard? Most military kids are pretty easy going and adaptable. We once moved with only one week’s notice from Kansas to New York. Our kids said their goodbyes to neighborhood friends, packed up their school cubbies and jumped into the car with our dog. Once in New York, they checked into a new school to finish out the final six weeks of the year. The girls enjoyed moving and living in many parts of the U.S. They feel it gives them a better appreciation for wherever they are currently living. Now, when their friends tell them that living outside of D.C. is “so boring” they just laugh because they have lived in some pretty dull places!
Are military kids lonely? Not a chance. Friendships are formed within hours of moving to any military neighborhood. Kids crowd into the homes of new families, anxiously looking for buddies to replace the ones who have just moved away. My girls stay in touch with kids from all over the United States thanks to their many military connections.
Can I get some help around here? When a parent is deployed, military kids learn to pitch in where needed. Here are few of the ways my kids worked together the last time my husband was deployed.
- My oldest daughter quit playing volleyball her senior year so she could help me with chauffeuring duties. Together we spent the year driving the three younger girls to their various activities.
- My second oldest daughter took over all of the cooking. She’s a WAY better chef than I am so this was a welcome change!
- Daughter number two attended Back to School Night as a “parent” for one of my daughters when I couldn’t make it.
- Daughter number three took over all lawn mowing duties as well as garbage related tasks.
- My youngest took care of our pets.
- Everyone took turns listening to me and to each other. This was a big job.
- A not-so-helpful thing two of the girls did was getting boyfriends as soon as their dad left!
Next time you see a soldier, don’t forget to thank their kids for their service too!