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Military Families: How Perspective Shapes Our Experiences

A few weeks ago, I was bracing for a busy day. My son woke up feeling sick and since I work from home, I focused on keeping him comfortable in the real world while juggling looming deadlines in the virtual world. About 2 hours into my workday, all seemed well until suddenly everything went quiet in the house, too quiet.

Power outage; work at home mom down.

I got up to go outside and assess the situation. Before I made it out the door, my son was by my side to see what was happening. When I explained that the power had gone out, he began a rapid treasure hunt to discover what would and wouldn’t turn on. He found out quickly that not much runs without power, including Wi-Fi. This discovery launched my normally reserved, quiet boy into a flurry of questions. As we like to say in our house, his brain was popping.

After 20 minutes, a call to the power company and a text to my boss, I made an executive decision to head to a coffee shop, so I could continue working while we waited for power to be restored. The highlight of my son’s day was discovering that my super mom powers helped me climb a ladder to manually disengage the power garage door and open it with my bare hands. It doesn’t get much cooler than that people.

After I got over feeling seriously inconvenienced and a little annoyed, the day went from boring to kind of awesome. While I worked away and enjoyed a fresh burst of caffeine, my son wolfed down a breakfast sandwich and sported a mile-wide smile about the adventures we were having. In typical kid fashion, he claimed that the power going out was a good thing.

Watching my son’s excitement and reaction to the unexpected made me think about all the unexpected adventures we’ve had as a military family. Some were good surprises and some not so much. It was a reminder that sometimes embracing the unexpected with positivity requires nothing more than a change of perspective.

Military Families: Changing Our Perspective 

Military families who move an entire household across the country or across the globe know that moving isn’t a bowl full of fun. Moving is stressful and emotionally exhausting. Moving also shifts us out of our comfort zone and changes our perspective.

Maybe that’s a good thing. 

Over the years, we spent months in tiny apartments with multiple children and nights with friends and family while waiting for stuff to arrive and homes to be move-in ready. I’ll never forget one time when we were inconveniently in-between houses once again, and we stayed with some generous friends. Although we had known them for several years, staying with them for a week was hands down the most fun we ever had with them. We laughed and stayed up too late and got to see a completely different side of them after the kids were asleep. 

To this day, we are quick to offer up our home as a refuge for temporarily homeless military families. The upside to not having a permanent duty station is finding yourself at home in the world among friends and family. 

Along with being a great excuse to see friends and family, moving can offer traveling opportunities that many families don’t get to enjoy. When you find yourself moving across the U.S. (again), make the most of your trip by seeing the sights and making it fun for the kids. 

I’ve often wished that I was one of the lucky few that could call grandparents at the drop of the hat for help or company, but that’s never been a reality for us. That being said, the upside to not living by extended family is not taking our relationship for granted and staying longer when we do get to visit. My family may not see my kids as often as I or they would like, but we always thoroughly enjoy our stays. They know my kids well because when we do come visit, we stay for a while. 

It’s hard not to see deployments and TDYs as a huge burden, but they are a reality for most military families. As military moms, we have a choice to hold our breath until our spouse returns or keep breathing and embrace what this season has to offer. I know many moms (myself included) who use the time away from their spouse to get closer to their kids and work on special projects and hobbies that they normally wouldn’t have time for. Using the time alone to do things you enjoy can be very restorative to your soul.

Time spent apart is also a great opportunity for couples to reignite the flames. Without the stress of running a household together, couples can use the time to grow closer despite the distance. Write love letters and use the time you do have to talk and reconnect with each other rather than discussing household business.

TDYs and deployments are a great time for moms to break the rules. Have fun traditions with your kids like eating popcorn or ice cream for dinner, camping out in the living room, or traveling to see friends and family.

Chances are if you embrace the adventure and surprises, your kids will, too. Thanks to my son’s sunny disposition, the morning of the power outage still seems a little magical.

It’s funny how time does that to you. One day we will look back and see the moves, deployments, and stressors in a rosier light. Maybe we could try changing our perspective now. 

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