By Bella Shields, Air Force kid
My name is Bella Shields and I am 11 years old. I have a little brother named Dean and a mom and dad who love me. My dad’s been in the Air Force for fifteen years. He’s been deployed twice: once when I was a baby, and then when I was in kindergarten. He has also been on several TDYs.
Being a military child definitely has its perks, though there are downsides. Sometimes it’s hard, but I always try to stand strong. After all, going through difficult situations often prepares you for anything else that may come. The fact that my dad is in the military not only tries my patience, but strengthens my resolve.
The tough times are always difficult to go through, but as a military family we hold each other up and push through. When I lived in Idaho, my dad deployed. It was very hard not seeing him or talking to him in person for eight months. I’m sure that if you ask any other military child, they’ll agree: No matter how many times a family member has gone overseas, it always hurts.
Even now that I’ve been through that before, I would be devastated if Daddy had to deploy again. Another con of military life is the difficulty in moving. I’ve had to move away from a lot of sweet friends and amazing places (I’m convinced I left my heart in a restaurant back in Idaho) and some of them I might never see again. When I was about 5 years old, we had to give away our cat, Priscilla, because she couldn’t handle the stress of moving.
Whenever we do go through a hard spot, I just remember that God’s got this! He has the situation under control and will lead me through. It was God’s will for my daddy to deploy. The deployment helped strengthen me and build my faith (it also gave me a great subject for my free verse poem in English class [see the poem, Eight Long Months, below]). Remembering that my entire life is planned out already by the Lord and that He loves me helps me muddle through the downs.
Surprisingly, some of my favorite parts about being a military child actually have a lot to do with moving. It’s nice to have met so many friendly people and to have seen so many cool places. Though it’s hard to leave behind friends, you never truly “leave” them. Several of my friends are now pen pals. Another great thing about being in the military is that Busch Gardens (the amusement park) gives us free military passes every year!
I think that it really broadens a person’s perspective on life in general to be part of a military family. You really care about family more once a loved one has deployed or gone away on a TDY. And you never really appreciate your home sweet home until you have to pack up your belongings and move across the country. When we moved from Idaho to North Carolina, the state experienced the first snowfall they had had in 10 years! Since we had moved from a place that gets an average of 11 inches of snow every winter, we were fully prepared. We wouldn’t have known what to do if we had never lived in Idaho, and we never would have lived there if Daddy wasn’t in the military.
I feel that the main point of being a military child is that you can feel proud knowing that your mom or dad is fighting for our country. They’re fighting for freedom and peace. They’re fighting for you.
Eight Long Months
A scared five year old sniffles in the dark
as her father kisses her goodbye.
She watches him walk away
from the car
into the crisp cool night
and then he’s gone.
My father is gone in the war.
My father is gone, fighting for me.
She skips and jumps at recess
but a shadow enters her mind.
Her father might be hurt or dying
even as she sits in class.
My father might die in the war.
My father might die for me.
She lies in bed, shivering;
he used to hug her every night.
But no hug can come
My father misses me terribly.
My father’s heart aches, thinking of me.
Her mother picks her up from school early
and a flutter rises in her heart.
When he climbs down from the cockpit
She clutches him and hugs him fiercely.
My father came back home again.
My father came home, his heart beating for me.
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