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What We Choose for Them

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I grew up in a non-military town, with non-military friends, in a non-military neighborhood. I have known the same people since I was five years old. My two closest friends have been beside me since kindergarten, then grammar school, high school. We were roommates in college. We have seen the worst of each other, the best of one another, and everything that exists in between.  We have danced into the night, cried while the other hurt, celebrated the goodness, and ignored or faced the bad. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without these two very special women.

Every aspect of this life I have always been able to find a good in. Every single part. But what I struggle with over and over again is the fact that my kiddos will not go to the same schools through elementary, middle, etc. My Logan (about to turn four) has already been to two preschools in two states on two different sides of the country. If the “plan” continues as it is right now, we will move him in the middle of kindergarten. I don’t know where. I don’t know exactly when. Goodness knows I don’t know the how.  But most likely during the first “real” year of school we will have to uproot him and place him somewhere else.

Every part of that makes me hurt. Every part of that brings worry to my heart. The very idea of moving schools is foreign to me.

I worry about his education. I worry that he won’t be able to focus. I worry that I am taking something from him that isn’t mine to take. As parents we want to set our kids up for the best life. We want to give them the best tools that we can. We want to do every single thing in our power to set them up for success. Without question my parents did that for me.

When I married my soldier, I knew that I was accepting and committing to uprooting and replanting our life again and again and again. We have lived in four states in our five years of marriage – both separately and together. I gave myself to this life. It was my choice – my total choice.

Our children are not given the option. We don’t get to ask them if they are willing to move and move and move. To make friends again and again. To leave friends again and again. To choose to thrive in difficult circumstances. We put that on them by bringing them into this life. This is what I struggle with most – that I may be taking opportunities from my children by moving them constantly and, soon, changing schools again and again.

Many months ago, I turned to senior spouses with children a little older than mine and said, “How do I do it?” One of them touched my arm and said, “You find the best school where you are going as soon as you know where you are going and you fight like hell to get them in.” The other said, “You have to own their education. You have to know what they are learning and carry them through the transition.”

From speaking to Army Wives who were first Army Kids (I don’t like the term “Army brats”) I have learned that the friendships they will form will be just as precious as the ones I still cherish. That there is goodness in having friends throughout the country that my boys will be closer than most because they will need each other most. I am slowly finding peace in the testimonies of these spouses. Slowly seeing that different doesn’t mean wrong.

I still struggle with the fear of transitioning school, of taking them from classmates and teachers. I worry about how that will affect them in the long haul. But I am going to do what I find always helps best in this life. I will listen to the advice of those who have BEEN there, who are living it, who have struggled with it too, and I am going to own the education of my boys. This momma bear will fight to get them in the best schools because I owe them the best shot. We brought them into a lifestyle of change, of continuous coming and going, so I must be their constant. They daily bring me joy and comfort and strength through their love, their innocence, their happiness. We brought them into a beautiful and difficult life. We chose this for them.

We must be their constants. We must own their education. We must commit to giving them every opportunity that will allow them to thrive. I am learning and struggling and trying but I am committed to doing everything in my power to give my boys the tools for the future they deserve.

To do anything less would be to do wrong.


5 thoughts on “What We Choose for Them”

  1. I struggle with exactly the same thing. I came from a place, a school, a community like the one you describe. I worry about those things, but I also look at it from another point of view. My children are offered experiences and opportunities to see and do things I never did. My children are afforded a chance to see things with their own eyes, that most other American kids only see in books or on tv.

    We are taking our kids to China. They’ll get to see the Great Wall with their own eyes, touch it with their own fingers, and walk on it with their own feet. And maybe, just maybe when it comes time for them to study China in school, they’ll be a little more interested, a little more excited to learn because they have seen the real thing. Or when they study Japan, my kids get to say, “Hey! I lived there for a while!”

    Maybe that’s the trade off for the stability and familiarity I had as a child, but like you said, it’s not better or worse. It’s just different. I think that as long as we as parents stay involved, supportive, and nurturing, they’ll make it through and come out wonderfully on the other side.

  2. That makes me sad, too. I did not have what you had growing up, constants to adulthood, but I had enough that I still talk to my friends from when I was 6.

    I think that’s the hardest part… the kids, they’ll learn and succeed. Good, life-long friends, on the other hand, are harder to come by. 🙁

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