Being a part of a military family is just as hard and stressful as you may have heard. My dad made the decision to join the Navy when I was six years old. After he joined he had to go to boot- camp for six to eight weeks, which left me in the care of my aunt since my mother wasn’t in the U. S at the time. It was hard to see my dad go because not only did have to deal with the fact that I was in a new country but I also had to cope with my dad leaving. After my dad finished boot-camp he had to stay close to his base because of training, so I was now living with my aunt while y mom and dad was gone.
My aunt and her family made things a lot better for me though, they definitely showed a lot of love and acceptance and convinced to join activities such as soccer and gymnastics. Coping with being in a military family for me was mainly finding things and activities that I like and focusing my time and energy on that. But you can’t forget to spend time with your family because they need you too. Remember, you’re not the only one in your having to cope with someone being in the military. For me, I found a love for gymnastics and cheer which I did with my cousin. Gymnastics definitely kept my mind off my dad, but of course I still missed him.
It was also very nice to call/skype with him once in awhile. My mother was still back home in Africa while my dad and I were in America so coping must have been a bit harder on her than me because I able to see my dad once in awhile when he drove down. After about three years of being with my aunt, my mom was finally able to come into the U. S. My father was still in the military so we moved around a lot for a while. I was behind in school a lot of the time and I couldn’t do gymnastics anymore ecause we didn’t have the money and we didn’t stay in one place for more than three months.
My mom was also pregnant with my sister at the time, so we couldn’t keep moving around anymore. Moving around has to be one of the biggest downsides of being in a military family. I was behind a lot of the other kids in school and even when we settled down it was very hard to catch up with the other kids. But all the movement was also one of the best parts cause I got to see so many parts of the U. S. I’ve been to places like New York, Georgia, Maryland, Maine, Tennessee, Texas and so many more.
Being in a military family also forces you to be social because with all that moving around you’re going to have to make new friends all the time. My mom and i stayed in Arkansas while my dad kept moving around for a while i was able to rejoin gymnastics and my mom gave birth to my little sister. I had to help my mom a lot cause she was working and taking care of me and my little sister all the time. I had to take on some amount of responsibility at a young age. I around ten when my mom started leaving me home alone to babysit which never sounds pretty yound but i was mature nough to take care of myself.
The biggest part of being in a military family to me was deployment because even though my dad was always gone I was able to see him a few times every few months and he would send money and other things to help out. My father was deployed to Afghanistan for eight months and my mom and I really struggled during that time. I remember the times before deployment being very hard. My parents had a lot of arguments and my dad spent less time home than ever. When my dad finally deployed it took a lot of adjusting for my mom and I.
It was definitely harder on my mom o pay the bills because she had to be home to go to school and take care of my sister and I. My father’s deployment definitely took a toll on my mom but we were lucky enough to have people so willing to help. Some of my dads friends would help my mom by babysitting or coming over to help make dinner or clean. It honestly made life without my dad much easier. People need to understand that even the slightest bit of help could go a long way. I remember for christmas my mom couldn’t really afford christmas presents but some of her friends pitched in and helped her buy so many christmas presents.
I definitely think that deployment affected my mother more that it affected me emotionally. In my opinion it is normal for deployment to effect the spouse more than the kids. The stages that a spouse may go through Pre and post deployment can be broken down. The first stage is anticipation of loss or denial. I remember my mom always asking “You don’t really have to go do you? “. The more my dad left for field training the more “real” the fact that my dad was leaving soon became. My family was definitely not prepared for my dad to be sent all the way to California for field training.
To me it was at that when i finally accepted the fact that my dad was really about to leave me and probably never come back. The next stage is getting affairs in order. Even though my dad was never really home, the time he spent home was spent on getting ready to leave and making sure the my mom, sister and I were well taken care of. It started off with him fixing a few things such as cabinets and windows, then he added a security system to the house and made sure we had proper health and dental care. My mom was always asking my dad to confirm all the health care plans and to check and make sure that the arage door was still stable.
All the cars were repaired and i even remember my dad writing his will. I wasn’t allowed to view his will so I never knew what it said. AFter all the home repairs comes the emotional distance and increase in arguments. It was really stressful to watch my mom and dad argue and make petty accusations but at least now I know it was just due to the stress of deployment. Eventually after all the arguments and preparations all goodbyes were said and we were watching my dad flight leave. His actual departure was not as emotional as the stages before it but it was still very sad to see him go. After he left my mom and i kept busy.
My dad always remembered to send letters and little gifts through the mail and even though he was on the clock 24/7 he remembered to have fun and call when he could. One thing that really helped when my dad was gone was spending time with my aunt and cousins. My sister and I went out of state and spent all summer with my aunt. To me it was very important to keep the rest of my family close while my dad was gone so I really enjoyed seeing the rest of my family when I could. When my dad finally returned it was a whole other roller coaster of emotion. I was really happy that he was back but i had to get used to his presence.
It was even harder on him because he now had to find a job and get used to civilisation. When he came back life never completely returned to the way it was before but that was kind of expected. i guess you could say that people react differently to the return of deployed family. I myself definitely was more mature cause not only did I have to take care of myself but also my sister. My dad’s deployment definitely changed me but I can’t really say that the change was bad. Being part of a military family is very tressful and will defined test the bonds of your family but you may also have a little fun with it.
All the travels and meeting new people are very exciting and I don’t think l’d ever trade my experiences with my family with anything else because I know it could have been much worse. I’ve seen and heard of new family’s breaking because of someone being in the military. It’s also common for new couples to break up because of the stress that comes with being in a military family. So even though it was hard for my family I know that it could have been worse and I’m happy that my family is the way it is now.