This school year just started yesterday for us, and already I find it to be bittersweet. I know that there is a genuine possibility that we will be leaving Elizabeth City next year. My children are in 7th, 6th, 2nd, and Kindergarten, and for the first time since we joined the military, I am worried about my kids. They have moved over ten times in the last 12 years, which means they have gone to a total of 6 different elementary schools and one middle school. While changing schools and neighborhoods isn’t uncommon for them, this year will be different.
This year Jordan has best friends that he’s now had for almost three years. The only other time he’s had the same friends for that long was when he was a preschooler. It wasn’t nearly as hard to move him then because he didn’t understand time and distance and in time he’s forgotten those friends altogether (which is sad). Now that he and John are in middle school, things are so different. The relationships they form are more personal and not as superficial. Jordan has a lovely girlfriend. While I’m not expecting them to get married, this also awakens me to a scenario I never considered before.
Sadly, the challenge isn’t only what you’ve left behind, but also what lies ahead. For a military child, life is full of ups and downs. One day they have tons of friends the next day they are the new kid. Being a target for bullies is also a concern of mine. Bullying seems so much worse now than it was when I was a child, and my kids make the perfect targets. They move to a new city with no ties whatsoever. They don’t have friends to help them through a tough day at school, they don’t have anyone to take up for them, and they often feel so alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this lifestyle, and I would do it all over again, but as military moms, we can’t ignore what our children are going through. We can’t dismiss the fact that they will have a harder time than other kids. Being a kid is already tough enough without a lifestyle that never allows you to plant roots and grow in one location for very long. That’s why I make it a point to get involved in my children’s lives and strive to spend a lot of family time together on the weekends. We love to go camping because we can get away from all of the distractions of life. I know that my relationship with my children needs to be one of both friend and mother if they are going to get through these years. It’s not that I’m the cool friend, or that I don’t discipline them. Being a friend is being someone another person can count on to take their side, show them where they can improve, and encourage them to be the best they can be. I can be a mother and still be a confidant. I want my children to know that they can tell me anything, and I will never judge them. That’s not to say they won’t get into trouble, but there will always be restoration. It’s not me vs. my child. I’m on my child’s team.
Yesterday John brought home his school work, and there was a question that asked: “What is your favorite thing to do in your downtime?” His answer, “Talk to my mom.” I can’t ask for more than that! I want my kids to know that we are all in these moves and school changes together. I will do everything in my power to ensure that they are happy, well-adjusted children who know how to make the most of every situation.