Mom, I Want to Be a Military Wife Just Like You

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As most of us know, April is the Month of the Military Child.  It’s an entire month dedicated to reminding both the general public and military families alike that our children serve our country too.  Our military brats learn how to salute before they can speak, how to repeatedly say hello and good-bye (sometimes in multiple languages), and how to adapt to new locations and situations.  They do this not because they choose to, but because they were born into a military family and it’s the only life they’ve ever known. 

This month, as I celebrate my own military brats, I think not only of the sacrifices they’ve made in the past and the sacrifices they will undoubtedly make in the future, but also the cumulative effects this lifestyle will have on them and the paths they will choose to follow in their adult lives.  I can’t help but wonder if their military life will end when their father’s career ends or if they’ll choose to embark on a military life of their own.  And I don’t know how I feel about that.

Although my son is only a second-grader trying to figure out what will happen in the next chapter of Harry Potter and why everyone makes such a fuss over girls, I can clearly envision him as an 18-year-old high school senior, sporting a high and tight as he sits at the kitchen table and announces he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the military.  And I don’t know how I feel about that.

I can also picture my daughter, now a sassy preschooler, years in the future as she brings home her handsome boyfriend, a young man just starting his career in the military.  She flashes a shiny ring as she exclaims, “Mom, I want to be a military wife just like you.”  And I don’t know how I feel about that.

Military life is rewarding in so many ways, yet challenging in so many others.  It’s not an easy life, and sometimes I find myself wondering if I would do it all again had I known what I was getting myself into over a decade ago.  (My answer is usually yes, but I definitely have those days when I’m not so sure.)  Then I wonder how I would feel watching my children follow the same crazy, unpredictable path.  How would I explain to them that juxtaposition of rewards and challenges so that they truly understand what they’re getting themselves into?  Should I try to talk them out of it or should I encourage them?

As parents we only want what’s best for our children.  We want to protect them from the struggles we’ve had to overcome in our own lives and we want them to learn from our mistakes instead of repeating them.  We try to offer them advice, to warn them of heartache, and to guide them to happiness.  But at some point we have to let them go to make their own decisions while we sit back and hope they make the right ones.

Of course I’ll support my kids in whatever professional and personal paths they choose to follow.  And of course I would be beyond proud if either of my children grew up to wear a uniform or marry someone who did.  Hopefully by the time they’re old enough to make that decision, my husband and I have done our jobs, not just by guiding them to happiness, but also by teaching them how to find their own happiness.  And if they find their own happiness on paths that lead them back to the military?  Fortunately I have a good decade to figure out how I feel about that.

How would you feel about your children growing up to become service members or military spouses?  What advice would you give them?

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Comments

  1. I was one of those children. I was a born and raised Navy Brat (my dad retired from the service when I was a teen). One day in High School I came home and said I wanted to join the military by doing ROTC in college. My parents weren’t thrilled but were supportive. Once I was at school and heavily involved in the ROTC program I met the man I would marry. He was a few years ahead and about to commission so I left ROTC and became an Air Force Spouse. It is a much different world moving from dependent child to dependent spouse. I will say that I have a mother who actually “gets” what I have to go through and I’m thankful for that.

  2. Cassie says:

    We are just starting our journey as a military family but I’d have to say thoughts similar to what you mentioned run through my mind. I would encourage my boys to serve our great nation simply because I feel the military (whatever branch they choose) teaches such great values. I also feel it would provide them with a jump start that most of their peers don’t have. Finally, I believe because they are military brats they would understand the lifestyle better than the average recruit.

    • Cassie, those are all reasons my husband and I have talked about whenever we think about encouraging our children to join the military. You’re so right!

  3. Sierra, I’m sure it is a very different kind of transition going from military child to spouse! But how great that you have a mother who completely understands. Thank you for sharing your story. :)

  4. I was a military brat. My dad was a Military Police Officer for 21 years retiring in 2007. As I grew up and watched what my mom went through I always said I would never be with a solider or have a family with a soldier. That all changed when I met my husband. He is in the Army and we are expecting our first child in November. It was a huge difference between saying see you later to my dad when he deployed and saying see you later to my husband when he goes away but I wouldn’t change it for the world. And just like Sierra I am lucky to have a mom who knows what I am going through!

    • Cassandra, I can only imagine the difference between saying goodbye to your husband and saying goodbye to your father. I’m sure it’s an interesting transition going from being a mil brat to a mil spouse. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on your baby!

  5. I’ve asked myself these same questions. Especially as I’ve watched our son dress up in his child-sized Army uniform, I’ve imagined him as a young man wearing the real thing and wondered how I would handle it. I’ve sent my husband off to war, but I’m not sure I could send my baby. Of course, I will support whatever decision he or our daughter make and if the service is their heart’s desire, I will be a proud military momma! But I admit, thinking about it now scares me a bit.

    • Kris, I think the same things when my son runs around in his kid-sized uniform, looking like a mini-me of his daddy. And thinking about my kids wearing the real thing scares me too!

  6. Philly says:

    As the Mom of someone who joined the military more than a decade ago, I can say that it’s not fun spending sleepless nights while that person is deployed to hot spots all over the globe. Nor is it comforting to hear, “I can’t talk about it, Mom.” It’s sure not the life that I thought our child would have chosen to lead. However, let me say this…as parents, we couldn’t be any prouder.

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  1. [...] that note, Mrs. RC has posted an article over at HomeFront United called “Mom, I want to Be a Military Wife Just Like You”. I will let you go read her post on your own [...]

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