It’s funny how our opinions on certain things change as our life experience shifts. For the majority of my marriage I have always believed that keeping the family together, no matter what, was always a better decision than “geo-baching” (living in a different state/country than your service member due to school, work, other considerations). I remember thinking that spouses who chose living apart from their service member because of their careers were kind of selfish. How could it be better for a child to have continuity in their education over having both of their parents in their lives? Stability has less to do with the physical location of a family and more to do with the fact that they are living under the same roof, right?
And then things changed. First of all, because of circumstances beyond our control, we have been in the desert due to his assignment for almost 4 years and my husband has to be here for another year. Now for many people, the desert is a godsend for allergies, asthma and arthritis. But occasionally the dry climate and high desert plant life can exacerbate certain conditions, and this has been the case for me. My health has suffered greatly since being here. Yes, I am enrolled in EFMP, but we had no way of knowing that the desert climate would be harmful until we got here. I won’t get into details, but it is now in my file that I should never again live in a desert climate. Unfortunately, needs of the Marine Corps do not dictate that different orders can be cut.
But more importantly, my oldest daughter is entering high school. For us, that changes everything. I know that there are some children who attend several different high schools, and they adjust well and report having no issues. But I know my daughter. She is active in band and is excited about being a part of a high school marching and concert band program. She also develops really solid relationships and cares deeply for her friends. Her Dad and I want her to be able to foster those friendships for her last 4 years of school before college, and we want her to be able to be a part of one high school from start to finish. It became very clear to us that it was not the right decision to have her start 9th grade here, and then move her to another school for the remainder of high school.
Other factors came into play. We are blessed to have two sets of really wonderful parents who adore our children. When Morgan was younger and we lived on the East Coast, she was able to develop a great relationship with both sets of grandparents. We were able to travel to see them several times a year, they always made the effort to travel to see her, and she was able to spend time at Grandparent Camp each summer. Our youngest, a toddler, has not had that same opportunity since moving out West. We still make the effort, and so do our parents, but the distance is much more taxing on them as they get older, and it’s just not as feasible for us all of the time. What were we supposed to do?