Dear Military Child of Mine~
Everyone in our family has heard, or read the saying, “you didn’t choose this lifestyle, it was chosen for you.” You may have even heard me say it to you a handful of times in your very short lifespan. And, as cliche as it may have become in the last few years of the merry-go-round of deployments, it is as true today as it has ever been. Even your Omi didn’t choose to be a military child, but the nature of the world forced her into that position as well.
This month, April, is the Month of the Military Child. It is a month where we ask our family, friends, and complete strangers, to recognize you for your strength, endurance, and adaptability that is asked of military children everywhere. It is a month geared toward celebrating how you transition, with every move, every deployment, and every change the military lifestyle throws at you.
I love the concept of the “Month of the Military Child,” but in my heart, you are applauded, and valued, daily. Nobody witnesses as intimately as I, the struggles you go through as a military child. Even your dad is unable to witness the struggles fully, because by virtue of his job, he is not home, which is the root of the cause of your struggle today. As in previous generations, you join the millions of others who have faced the “one parent home” struggle, not because of your doing, or because of your parents‘ doing, but ultimately because of the nature of the world.
Your dad is out there, trying his hardest, to make this world a better place. He is trying to make it a safer place for you, in the hopes that you will not someday have to carry the burden he carries on his shoulders.
But, you know all this in your head – you hear me remind you frequently; I understand, though, it is difficult for your heart to really process it at times.
I don’t think I could ever adequately express how impressed I am of you. You have taken your dad’s separation from the family in stride, and while we have had a few hiccups and bumps in the road, for the most part, you have handled Dad’s absence with grace. You have adjusted seamlessly to the new state in which we now live, and while there were a few setbacks during the move, you have tried your hardest to overcome those with the new life we are now building. I see your confidence growing and blossoming, and see how laid back you are as we approach changes in our schedules and routines, typically to accommodate the military.
Your enthusiasm and demeanor remind me daily of your dad – someone who brings out the better side in me. Because of that, I like to think you bring out the side of me striving to be a better person. I know that, because of you, I am able to face the challenges of this transient military lifestyle with more gusto and positive expectations because that is what you ultimately need from me. I know you need me to be strong, so that on the days where you are struggling, you have a champion in your corner, offering you a shoulder upon which to cry. I know that you need me to be strong, so that I am able to keep your boundaries consistent, in order to avoid added confusion to your little life.
No, you did not ask for this lifestyle. You were born into it, without any contribution into the discussion of whether or not your dad would serve far from home. You don’t ask for sympathy for this lifestyle, nor should you expect sympathy.
However, you do ask for some compassion from others, and for a little understanding when you are having an “off” day, or in some cases, an “off” month. You ask that life around you stops, for however long a conversation with your daddy lasts on the phone, even if you “just talked to him yesterday.” You ask for others to understand, when you reach for and try to monopolize another person’s dad, that you are craving your own dad. You ask for those around you to inquire of me how best to help you through this process.
I will say that you have me completely in awe of your ability to handle this lifestyle.
I was a proud Army brat, and I am so excited, and honored, to call you my little Army brat.
I know you will rise to this challenge of the military life with all the vigor, determination, skill and success that will carry you far in life. And, because of that, I consider you a hero of mine.
I love you, my Army brat.