If someone had asked me 10 years ago where my home was, I would have immediately said New Jersey. For 22 years, except for my time at college, I lived in the same town, resided in the same house, and slept in the same room.
So many things in my life have changed since I became a military spouse. While I will always consider myself a Jersey girl, if someone asked me today where home is, I don’t think I would be able to name only one place.
The little condo in Hawaii — where I got married on a beach in Honolulu and enjoyed Skype sessions with my husband at all hours of the night — was definitely home. Tucked neatly on a winding hill in the center of Oahu, that condo was also the place where I struggled to hang a “Welcome Home” banner in the perfect place, stocked the refrigerator with my husband’s favorite foods, and cleaned the place spotless for our long-awaited reunion after one of his deployments. A few months after that it was also the place where we learned we were expecting our first child.
We brought our infant son home to a townhouse in Fort Polk, Louisiana. It’s also the place where we made all the mistakes new parents make and the sight of another “see you later” as my husband left on another year-long deployment.
When he came back, we moved into our second home on Fort Polk, and enjoyed our first Thanksgiving with the three of us together. And it’s where we eagerly prepared to welcome a little girl into the family. Strong-willed like her mother, she arrived a few days late, but brought even more wonder and joy into an already happy home.
In 2013, after another deployment, and several weeks of training, our next home became a wonderful little house in Harford County, Maryland. Life has been good here. Together, we have jumped in leaf piles, snuggled on the sofa with cookies and hot cocoa, watched every night of the “Twenty-five Days of Christmas,” and had crazy dance parties in the living room.
Home has been many places. I hadn’t yet ridden in an airplane when I was 6 years old, my son’s current age, but both of my children are seasoned travelers. They’ve seen and experienced things I never knew existed at their age.
While I’m happy to know they’ll be able to tell their children about their adventures as a military family, I struggle with other aspects of this life as I’m sure other military families do.
Every time we move, I worry about my children making friends. I wonder, if they will ever feel like they’re a part of a place and not just passing through, and I question if they would struggle to answer should someone ask them where they’re from. Most of all, I worry that they might resent us for choosing this life for them.
Whenever my husband is away, I try to fill the two roles we would normally share. I admit that sometimes I flounder. It can be overwhelming to try to be everything to your children while also trying to take care of yourself.
Over time, I learned to let go of things that might have driven me crazy like leaving dirty dishes in the sink, or toys on the floor at the end of the day. For my family to stay sane while Daddy is away, we make it a point to step outside the box. For example, we might have breakfast for dinner instead of a meticulously planned meal in the evening, or find other oddball but fun ways to “goof off.” It’s something I’m sure all military families can relate to.
When our children are all grown up and out of the house, I hope, that no matter what they thought of this crazy military life, they believe that we tried our best, and that they can tell their children they always knew they were loved.