Dear Little One,
It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, I could only dream about you — your face, your features, whether you were even a boy or a girl. And now, here you are. You. Impossibly perfect, you.
Feeling your tiny fingers curl around my own and watching your face relax into milk-drunk contentment, it’s tempting to wish your life might always be so easy; that every need could be met with my arms and a rocking chair; that your face would never lose the serene calm enveloping it at this very moment.
That’s not realistic, of course—especially not for you, military child. For you, dear one, you were born into a life not of your choosing; one that will challenge you, humble you, and — for better or worse— define you.
You are a military child. Yours is less a path of smooth seas and more a trailblazer’s obstacle course.
Part of me mourns the life I will never be able to give you, you sweet military child—the one I grew up knowing. There will be little continuity; few, if any, shared teachers between you and your siblings. Friendships will end abruptly and goodbyes will be routine. Family traditions will change with our circumstances. Treasured items, inevitably, will be lost to the PCS Gods.
Absence, your constant companion.
You will probably never know the stability of a forever home. There will be no laughter as we reminisce over the ways in which its furniture and style have changed over the years. There will be no recollection of the plum tree that used to house a family of robins each spring or tales of rolling off the shed into giant snow piles year after year.
There will be no nostalgic visits after growing up and moving away, because you were always moving away—your home base a moving target of time-limited emotional investment. You’ll likely never return to the tree under which you had your first kiss or get a free haircut from the neighborhood barber because he’s known you since you were knee-high-to-a-grasshopper and your money is no good to him.
No, your experiences will be scattered across the breeze, a patchwork of people and places tied together only by the power of your memory. But it is my sincere hope that that will be enough. Because this life may not be one of consistency, but it certainly is one of adventure.
And wherever it leads, you will not be alone. You will have your brother, sister, and myself always. When duty carries Dad to far-off places, your heart may break but it will heal with pride of service and appreciation for honor.
Wherever you go, there will be people supporting and loving you, lifting you up with thoughtful words and deeds from every corner of this great wide world. It seems impossible now, being so content to sway the day away in my arms, but your friendships will span the globe.
That’s the beautiful thing about this life—lonely as it may feel at times, you will connect with a multitude of people from different places and cultures. You, and they, will be better off for it.
So while part of me mourns the life I cannot offer you, another part rejoices in the knowledge that not only will you be OK but that, with a little support, you are destined to thrive. Because you may not have the same teachers as your siblings, but you will know how to succeed in uncertainty. You will learn to value genuine friendships, refusing to give away pieces of yourself to those undeserving. Your early frustrations will teach you invaluable patience and flexibility, while the loss of material belongings will remind you of what’s really important in life. And eventually, the loneliness you knew as a child will develop into an appreciation for reflection and self-care.
That forever home may remain elusive, but my hope is that someday, wherever you go, you are able to rock your own child to sleep as I am tonight and feel at peace with the world; that you will breathe in that intoxicating baby smell and revel in the moment instead of worrying about whether you’ve provided the best crib, the trendiest clothes, the latest toys, or the most expensive photography sessions—because you will be content in the knowledge that none of those things make up a home.
You, dear military child, you will know that home is a feeling; a whisper on the breeze; a patchwork of memories. That knowledge has seen me through and it will for you, too.
Always and forever, wherever you may go, I love you.