Day 98: Month of the military child

So April is the Month of the Military Child.  Although Andy has been in the military for 10 years now, we have been married for almost 9 years, and our oldest child is 8 years old, I was not aware of this month until we moved here.  Seriously.  Maybe it was because at bases stateside, there are so many resources available outside of base that you do not always pay attention to the ones on base, like we do here.  Maybe it is because we have moved a lot and in all the transitions, I just missed something.  Either way, I know about it now, and the kids have been participating in activities that are sponsored here.  We also have been seeing many advertisements and commercials for this special month.  Lorelei has already met with the firefighters and Sparky, the firedog, at her school.  Anya’s school has a few things planned as well.

I think this a great initiative for military children.  It is often overlooked that children of military service members make great sacrifices and go through changes and struggles as their parents do.  I look at my own children, who have watched their dad have to leave frequently and have moved now internationally without much complaint.  They adapt, they make the best of wherever and whatever we are going through, and they love their dad and I regardless.  We ask our military children to live through all the things we have no control over, and so far my children have complied.  I try to be sensitive to how difficult it is for them as well, but they always seem to do so well.

We were watching TV when yet another commercial came on for special programming for “Month of the Military Child.”  Anya looked at it kind of funny, and she asked, “So we’re military kids?”  Of course I told her yes, but her confused face remained.  “We get a whole month for us?”  Again, I told her yes.  She smiled, but then said something so profound and beyond her years that I know she is my kid:  “But why?  This is just our life.  Why are we so special?”

As her mom, I want to explain how challenging it is to be in her position.  I want to tell her how proud I am of how well they handle our life, deployments, TDYs, moving, the inconsistencies, all of it.  On the other hand, I want to thank her for her honesty and for her ability to see this life as nothing more than ordinary.  To her, having her dad in the military is nothing more than life as usual.  This has been her dad’s job since she was born.  While she does not always enjoy having her dad gone for half the year, she also knows that it is his job, and our job is to support him.  I have asked her before if she does not like her dad being in the military, and she always answers that she likes telling people that her dad is in the military, that her dad gets to protect people and fight for the country.  Moments like this, even small statements like she made above, make me so proud of my children that I could literally burst with that pride.

Despite my daughter’s feelings, I am loving all the attention and gratitude that military children receive during this month.  As I said, they are often the ones who are forgotten.  We all know that they miss their parent or parents when they are gone, but these kids do so much more than count down the days until they return.  I like to think and hope that this life will expose my children to life outside of their comfort zone and expose them to the world around them (we are certainly accomplishing that by living overseas).  I also hope that it teaches them to adapt, to expect the unexpected, and to appreciate family and time with one another when you have it.  Finally, I am glad that being a military child has instilled some pride in them already, the good kind of pride.  I know that they will not always feel this way – I’m sure we are in for some teen-angst years where moving from a boyfriend will be a problem.  But I hope that these early feelings on being a military child stick with them.  It’s not always easy but when you love someone enough, the sacrifice is worth it.  And I don’t know any 3 girls that love their daddy more than mine do.

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