April, while it draws to a close, is the month of the Military Child. I’ve started this post so many times, trying to figure out what to say on the subject. I’m not just the mother of military brats, I’m one myself, as were my parents before me. This life is all I’ve ever really known.
My boys are military brats. They have survived four deployments. They have lived through some of the biggest events of their lives, birthdays, first days of schools, first hockey games, Christmases… you name it, all while Dad was 1/2 a world away. They see the scar down Jason’s neck and they know how close we came to having a very different family. They’ve moved across the world, lived in foreign countries, and have even been born there. They’re constantly ripped away from their friends, their schools, their teams, because the military says go, and they do. A lot of times, I hear, “that must be so hard for them.” And a lot of times I reply, “it can be, but it’s the only life they’ve ever known, and they’re thriving.”
I don’t want you to feel sorry for them.
There are amazing advantages to being a military brat.
Military brats are flexible, because they’ve had to bend so many ways. They’ve learned to go with the flow, which helps them adjust to just about any situation as they grow older. They’re not too stuck in their ways to make a change.
They live in the moment. They understand that mom or dad may be leaving tomorrow, and they live today. They savor each moment that we have as a family because they know how precious it is, how this moment may not come again for a long time.
They know that “home,” isn’t a place, or even a house, but their family, and wherever they go, home will always be the arms of those who love them.
Military brats are kind to the new kids. Oh you know them, the new kids who don’t know where to sit in the cafeteria on their first day. Military kids offer up a seat next to them, because they know exactly how it feels to be that kid. Half the time, they are that kid.
They’re quick to make friends, because they jump in with both feet, never knowing if they, or the other child might be moving soon. If you’re around their age and live nearby – chances are you’re a friend.
They take these friends all over the world. They belong to a world-wide family that exists in a small world feel. They’re in first grade with the girl next door from two duty stations ago. They’re saying goodbye and just as often saying, “hello, again.”
Military brats are tough little people. They know nothing lasts forever, and can put up with just about any situation long enough to get through it. They can hug their parent goodbye with a tear, and embrace their sibling in the next breath. They are the epitome of strong, because they were born into this life, and know no other way to be.
Military brats stamp up their passports. One perk to being a milbrat? You can live all over the world. Eiffel Tower? Done it. Neuschwanstein? Check. Swiss Chocolate? Nom Nom Nom. Loch Ness Monster? Searched. There’s years they might be Kansas-cornfield picture kids, and years they might see a Korean sunset, but they’re always traveling.
Did I mention the rad photos? Oh, you want to sit in an Apache Attack Helicopter? Here you go. You want to climb on an A-1 Abrams tank? We’ve got one over here.
Military brats see the bright side. They can get the short end of the stick sometimes, but they’re always able to see the best parts. They’re excited for new bedrooms in new houses, they’re ready to tape up care packages. They have an optimism about them that is awe-inspiring.
These kids understand sacrifice from the earliest age imaginable. They understand why daddy is gone, and though they’re devastated the day of deployment, they’re proud. They grow up knowing that there is honor in serving something so much bigger than yourself, because they’re serving the greater good from the moment they’re born. They know the fear of loss, because it may be all around them, but it never tempers the pride they have for their parent’s service.
Military brats know joy. Yes, they know longing, and sadness, but that first moment they finally get their arms around their redeployed parent, that’s a joy not many non-military-kids can understand, or will ever experience. There’s a thankfulness matched with heapings of euphoria that even Christmas morning can rival.
So yes, my kids are military brats, just as I was, and my parents before me. I happen to think that military brats are some of the most special kids in the world, forged in a fire of love, sacrifice, duty, and unwavering patriotism. I also think they look really cute in camo.
Honestly, sometimes I wish they didn’t have it so hard, that their dad was around every time they needed him, that they didn’t know fear of a knock at the door, that they didn’t have to “pull together,” every time they’re thrust into a new situation….
Then I look at the remarkable people they’re becoming all because of this army lifestyle.
And I wouldn’t change a thing.