Monday comes round so quick and I am at the point where I can’t remember how long my husband has been away, the weeks have merged and I am no longer just getting by each week, it is just situation normal for me.
That isn’t the case for my daughter
She has really struggled these last couple of months and this last week I have been thinking about the effect being part of a military family has on my daughter, she is a teenager now and as I have always said be it babies, toddlers, young children or teenagers we have, they all experience some challenges with this military life they just look a bit different through the ages.
I am not from a military family at all, I did move about a bit but from 7 – 17years I was in one place, in one school, with the same people around me and those people are still in my life now. I really worry my daughter won’t have that. She has moved so much and been to so many different schools her friends are always in the here and now, we have another move coming so she will have to move again for her A levels. This part of her life she actually seems to not be so bothered about, we talk about the people she’s met along the way and I believe it has been a positive in some ways because she isn’t a shy child and knows now how we sometimes need a deep breath and some rescue remedy to get us into that room full of strangers and to make friends, this will help her now and as an adult.
Separation has had an affect this time, more so than usual, I look into her eyes and I can see sadness and I feel useless because I wasn’t a military child, I don’t know exactly what that feels like as a child and I wish I did.
Me and my daughter are so close and I do credit this to being a military family, over her 14 years of life I would estimate that cumulatively six of those years my husband hasn’t been at home…that is a LONG chunk where it has just been me and her and your relationship becomes intense, this has positives and negatives. This is the first separation where I haven’t let her stay in my bed and if I am honest that has been hard for me as I had become reliant on that but she’s 14 now and it was right that I broke the habit and she’s just slept in my bed one night when she was poorly. A few people used to say to me ‘she shouldn’t sleep in your bed’ they may or may not have been right but in that moment that was a coping mechanism we both used to get through deployment and separation.
The questions have come thick and fast this time which we haven’t had for a few years, some are hard to answer.
“Why can’t Dad text me all the time”
“Dad always wants to speak to you for longer than me”
“Why does Dad have to be in the Army”
“Can’t he just say I don’t want to go”
“I wish Dad wasn’t a soldier”
What I do know is I support my husband in his choices and I relay that to her, I still to this day regret getting out the Army and I’d never want him to have the same regrets I do, I often get jealous when he goes off as I wish it was me sometimes…..but that’s another post!
Ultimately I just wish I could understand better what she feels and thinks growing up as a military child and my question to you reading this is; if you were a military child yourself does that help you parent your own children in a military family?
I do worry and it plays on my mind, is she being damaged? will she grow up like any other child? will she look back and feel it had a negative impact? Just yesterday she went into town with her friends and came back with a huge bunch of lilies she had bought me with her pocket money “why have you bought me those babe that is so thoughtful” and her response was because she’d heard me cry on Saturday night after I put the phone down from her Dad.
My heart broke.
I try so hard to be strong for her and to not be overly emotional about him being away but an example right there that our children are tuned in to us and how we feel. She made my day with those flowers and I felt so full of love.
For us and our family I know she will go on to be a well rounded, good humoured and hopefully adaptable adult and she has always had the love and support to get through the challenges and hurdles she has faced as a military child and I know there are more to come!
I founded Little Troopers because I needed help so I could support my child, I couldn’t find anything out there and hopefully even if just a little bit the resources and community that has formed is helping and empowering us all to get over those hurdles, together.
There is no right or wrong, remember that. We all just do what we can to get through the days giving the love and support we can to our Little Troopers to guide them through this military life.