I read your “scared sick” column and I have to ask:
What about the family/hometown piece of military life? Is it unrealistic to think that I could adjust to a military lifestyle when all I’ve ever known is living 10 minutes away from my entire family? I feel like family is irreplaceable, regardless of how many amazing friends I will make! I mostly worry about my kids someday – it makes me sad that they would not have a real closeness with their grandparents and cousins, like I did growing up. What about all of the everyday things, like birthday parties and baseball games and recitals? Anyone have experience with a major life-change like this?? Please help!
First of all, no. It is not unrealistic to think that you can or cannot adjust to military life. Growing up in a strong family environment is actually a huge plus in your corner. You know how to build bonds that are unbreakable. You are also correct that family is irreplaceable, they are your blood and your life, but you will always have room for more family.
Adjusting to the military life can be difficult when you are used to a strong foundation with family. Although I am a military brat, my father was only stationed in one place 90% of his career. My first move as a military spouse took me to Iceland. I am a momma’s girl all the way and it broke my heart to leave her and not have her there for me at a moments notice. With todays technology though I was able to keep that bond strong and even have my then 2 year old daughter become close with her. Through every transfer, we have made sure that our family was involved in the process and had many visits home.
Over the years we have missed several big events in our family, and it was very hard on me not to be there for a lot of them. I cannot say that I became accepting, but I did have a very strong support system with my new family that helped me ease my mind and gave me a shoulder to lean on when the times are tough.
Military life is what you make of it, and I don’t mean that to sound condescending at all. It just means that having a bond with your family will never fade if you don’t allow it to, but you will build major bonds with new people throughout the military career and sometimes those can be a lot stronger because military families “get” each other. We have all been in the same shoes in some way and we can understand the struggle more than most.
My best advice is DON’T let the separation from family destroy your bond with them, but allow your heart to open up to the new family that can make you stronger. Skype, facetime and all the modern gadgets have helped me keep my bond with my mother on so many occasions. During my second spinal surgery, my mom was on Skype the entire time; it broke her heart that she couldn’t be right next to me, but knowing she would not close that computer for one moment gave me the strength I needed to get through the pain.
I also have 2 children, and although it can be tough not having family there for each of their life events, I can tell you that my children have overcome quite a bit and made some great friends as well.
Don’t be afraid to lean on your military family when you are feeling lost and lonely away from your relatives. We got your six!
If you have any more Dear Mindy Questions, email them to email@example.com and we’ll post your question anonymously!