Raising Army Brats

As we gear up for the deployment and draw down to the last weeks, people will begin leaving. Whether leaving with the main body or the advanced party, people we love and care about will disappear from our lives.

Something has occurred to me over the past few days. My children are not just saying “See ya later” to their father. I’m not just saying “See you soon” to my husband. We are also losing friends.
These losses are coming in multiple forms. The obvious one being the deployment. My husband is an Officer and as such, works closely with the other Officers and Senior NCOs. My kids have grown to love these people like family. “Uncle T” is one of my son’s best buddies. He spoils my son and they love to hang out during down time and make me crazy. “Ms. J” is, I’m convinced, my son’s first crush. She loves my kids like her own and has bought them birthday presents and given them snacks and has just been there for my kids, as little as they are.

These soldiers are gonna be missed. My daughter called “Ms. J” just last night to tell her, again, “See ya later” and to have fun being a superhero “just like my daddy”, even though “Ms. J” is still stateside. Neither “Uncle T” or “Ms. J” have kids of their own, which makes it that much more special. These soldiers aren’t even married yet, but they treat my kids like family. They will be very missed during the upcoming deployment.

More than that, what happens if, God forbid, something should happen to one of these beloved soldiers during the course of the deployment? I would grieve. My children would grieve. I imagine that discussion would be just as difficult as trying to explain if something had happened to their father. A reality of life in the military, sometimes, people we love die. Even if it’s not our soldier, it’s still someone’s soldier. It’s still a soldier that meant something to us, that brought something to our lives. A soldier that will be missed.
PCS (Permanent Change of Station)
My daughter is dealing with something very difficult this week. Though we have moved twice since joining the Army, this is our first PCS inspired anxiety attack and we aren’t even moving. Another loss military children deal with is of school age friends. Moving is a part of life. You move at some point, your friends move at some point. The average military family has 9 military induced moves during their soldier’s career. I believe it. We’ve been in the Army just over two years and have moved twice already.

image via Jordan Schultz Original artwork by Charles Schulz

The little girl across the street is a joy to be around. She’s always friendly, helpful, and asks questions about how she can help Sissy be a better friend. This little girl will be leaving us at the end of the week. Having just found out yesterday ourselves, bracing our daughter for this has been difficult. Her first reaction is to cry. She cries a lot. It’s the only emotional response she can muster up in some situations. Neighbor Girl#1 (NG1) is leaving us as a result of the military. Her dad is leaving the Army and as such, their family is moving. To make matters worse, NG2, who lives just two houses down from us and was in first grade with Sissy, might be moving too. Her house is up for sale.

Between the deployment and the moves, our neighborhood is going to get empty fast. That’s a lot of transition on kids. It’s a tough spot to be in. This is all very new to us being a young Army family. How do I guide my kids safely through so many changes in such a short time?

Sometimes it’s too much for a mommy to handle. The silver lining is that we’ve been able to successfully shelter our kids from the horrors soldiers sometimes face during combat. If asked, my kids will tell you that daddy is gonna go to Afghanistan to be a superhero and save the world from dragons.


5 thoughts on “Raising Army Brats

  1. jeffssong says:

    A tough row to hoe in a field walked through by many a child and adult – the deployment, the loss of father and spouse – and how long this time? you cannot help but wonder. I know we did. Thank god the civilian views of the military world have changed since I was a kid. I hope that things go well – and that your husband (indeed, ALL our soldiers) are safe. Always. And that they all come back to you safe & sound & unaffected by what they’ve been through (sorry, not much chance on that last one).

    Hold your family tight. You’re gonna need them (want them) – and your military friends as well. Salute & kudos to you all.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I don’t really have a family outside of the kids and him. Makes it hard to have support. As we come down to these last few days its getting harder. I just keep telling him, “come home breathing. I won’t count fingers and toes, I don’t care if you can walk, or about any of it, just come home breathing.”

      • jeffssong says:

        Unfortunately that is the fate of military children: you have no family aside from your mother and father (often gone), and siblings, if any. Just a hard truth, albeit not nearly as bad as in the pre-internet pre-video past. In ‘my’ days it took 6 to 12 weeks to get a message, and MARS ‘radio’ was all there was – and a waiting list to get on that.

        Support IS a difficult issue: you have to be strong for yourself, your children – your spouse. My mom confided in me the other day: she wasn’t allowed to go into therapy or counseling – the Army told her she (and us) couldn’t – it might “compromise your husband’s mission”. (wry frown) Such is the ‘programming’ that here, 20 years later, she still recites those words – ‘the Mission’.

        Today’s soldiers, I think, are much better trained and protected than in the old days; there is more concern about their well-being and welfare – as well as the families affected. Use your local resources, USO – whatever the Army offers. There are wives clubs – use those. And online forums.

        My sympathies about the coming deployment, but you have no choice. It’s part of the adventure of Army life. It will make you different. But that can be a good thing as well. I think you’ll find strengths you never knew you had, as well as swells and sweeps of emotion. Remember you may not be able to control the future or change the past – so it’s the ‘now’ that is important.

      • I have a hard time understanding “resources” and how to use them and what they offer. Typically, I avoid things that confuse or disorient me to avoid being seen as stupid. I’m not stupid, I have Aspergers, but that’s hard for people to understand. I don’t like to hang out with “Wives Clubs”, mostly because a) I don’t know what they are and b) I’m not my husband’s rank. I don’t wear his rank and feel no wife should. Forcing wives into “clubs” based on husband’s rank is setting them up to be “rank wearers” and that’s just not me.

        It’s hard when the “now” is the thing you most want to avoid. It’s getting to the point where everything reminds me that he’s leaving and I just want to be done with it and hide in my room… I’m hoping it will be easier, emotionally, once he’s actually left the states.

      • jeffssong says:

        My mom hated the Wives Clubs, too 🙂 Said they were mostly snobs. But I’ve read where there are more resources for dependents – support groups and that kind of stuff. Just a thought.

        My mom used to always say “take it one step at a time, one day at a time” when it came to moving and ‘stuff’. Still does. So does my dad. We moved every two to four years. I live in a predominately military community (Ft. Gordon area), see it all the time. And oh boy, how the Army screws ya’ nowadays! You gotta keep an eye on them – and their contracts (which they seem so fond of breaking). A good friend of mine (and neighbor) with 2 kids had to sale (bad time) – to go to Europe for six years. They promised Britain; strange how that turned into the mainland – Germany. :/

        Having to bear it all yourself, though, can be tough. I’ve seen a lot of it. The few months going into and following are a period of transition – really hard sometimes. It can also get nervy towards when they are coming back – you don’t know what to expect quite exactly, and neither do they. Fortunately you should be able to keep in good communication – that helps a lot I’ve seen. (Saw it in my neighbor’s kids when he went to Afganistan for awhile – we were like babysitters for them; me being the old grandpa, LOL). Their ability to see him on the screen helped. And I think it helped their mom (she was in the Army too).

        My hope & prayers go with you. And with him. All the soldiers. And if you ever need an ear – well, I’m “here” in cyberland. :/

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