Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Military Children

I much prefer to call them military children than that harsh "military brat" label they so often are called.  April is Month of the Military Child and I'm linking up with the fabulous Kate @ Daffodils today to talk about how being children of an Air Force pilot has influenced my kids.

I remember the conversation Brian and I had when we were first married. He was a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and I was a new military wife and really had no clue what I was in for, as much as I thought I did.

We both knew that we wanted to have kids but I was really unsure about bringing up a child in a military family. "It would be so unfair to them. To be away from their grandparents, family, have to move tons of times, have to make new friends constantly, have their daddy leave for months at a time.  They wouldn't get to choose this lifestyle, rather be stuck with it." We both agreed how hard it would be so we kind of went into our marriage thinking we'd wait to have children until he was done with his commitment in 10 years.  But after a year into our marriage something inside of me changed. I truly believe it was God telling us to take that next step, to have children, and that he would take care of us on the way.

I saw other military families doing it, saw how well adjusted their kids were, and knew that we could do it.  
And then we were a family of 3.

Brian was home for the first 5 months of Brady's life, went on a 6 week TDY (temporary assignment), and then was home until he was 11 months old.

Brady in his ABU onesie

Saying goodbye for that first deployment...hardest thing ever.

Brian skyping in on Brady's 1st birthday party

I'm not going to lie and say it's been easy. Brian missed Brady learning to walk, missed his first birthday, holidays, and milestones.  I remember the first deployment taking Brady to the park and him just gravitating towards the other dads in the park. Broke my heart.

Seeing Daddy for the first time after his first deployment.

But Brady really knows no different. He knows that Daddy flies airplanes. Sometimes Daddy is home and sometimes Daddy leaves.  And even though he struggles with it at first, he is resilient. He knows that his daddy loves him more than anything and that sometimes daddy just needs to go away for a little while to do an important job.

Layla really doesn't know any different either.  She was born and 3 months later, Brian left on another deployment.  

Ummm who are you, strange man holding me?!

Waiting for daddy's plane to land

My daddy's home!

The 2 happiest children (and wife!) after Daddy got home from his latest deployment.

The thing I struggle with the most is having my kids not grow up with family nearby. We were so, so blessed to be in Nebraska for 4 years and only 6 hours away from family. But it's still not the same. With Skype and phone calls, we try to be as connected as possible but my kids are still missing out on time with extended family and that kills me a little. But that makes you draw that much closer to the military family around you. 

Part of our military family

My children, they're strong. They've dealt with a lot of changes in their short lives. And I think that these early tests in their lives are going to shape them beautifully for adulthood.  They've learned coping skills during deployments. They've learned trust and confidence. Brady has learned how to be a big brother and how to be there for his sister when she was feeling lonely. They've learned compassion. How when someone's daddy is deployed we have them over for dinner or we help them do things.  And the things they've seen and the places they've been for an almost 4 and almost 2 year old astound me.  They've been to 19 states already and I know that list will only grow. 

Both Brady and Layla were born in Nebraska, in the same hospital, heck, even the same hospital room and I often wonder if they'll associate with Nebraska being their home or where.  This is the first time they're experiencing moves and having to say goodbye to friends.  For now, they think it's exciting. A new place with new playgrounds and places to explore. I can only hope that their enthusiasm continues! :)  

Future pilot?

I have the utmost respect for our nation's military children.  They are the true heroes. They didn't sign up for this and they didn't choose this lifestyle but so many of them love the life they grew up with. And along with all of the hardships comes so many positives.   God Bless the military child.


Jen said...

This is such a great post! :)

Hana R said...

Military children are so resilient compared to non military kids. I always say my kids handle this life better than me sometimes!

Jenny @ Creatively Blooming said...

Oh my gosh - I remember saying goodbye to Jarrod for that first post-kid deployment too. It was a few weeks before Christmas, Trenton was almost 11 months old, and I was halfway through my pregnancy with Charlotte. And I wasn't crying for myself. I was crying for my kids and all the things Daddy would miss out on. But we all made it! Military life molds strong kids!

The Chick Nest said...

I will always admire your family for being so strong! Love you Brady and Layla! :)

Anonymous said...

Great post! My husband and I finally decided to jump into the baby pool after five years after seeing some of our military friends have children and thinking, "Hey, maybe it won't be so bad and we can totally do that!" Haha. Gorgeous family! :)

Karen @ And Then We Laughed

Traci@TheHallway said...

I am not looking forward to that first time saying goodbye with the kids. It will truly be the hardest thing I will have to face. Our babies sure are amazing aren't they!!

Kate @ Daffodils said...

Awesome post, thanks for linking up! I definitely link Military couples ironically end up having kids sooner than more stable couples. I think we have a sort of appreciation for family and life's uncertainty so when it feels 'right' when jump at it. We also at first talked about waiting a few years but then after Kev's first deployment, we realized that there was nothing more important we could do in this life than have children!

Lions, Tigers and Fashion OH MY! said...

So adorable, such a cute family!



Becky Dougherty said...

This is a beautiful post! We received an e-mail last week at school about wearing purple on Tuesday in honor of military children! Do you mind if I share your post with my students??

Shannon said...

I just loved reading this. I think military familes are inspiring. They are close-knit, able to handle change and adapt amazingly well. I also know you guys do some of the hardest things ("single parenting", moving constantly), so I give you all the greatest amount of respect.

Julie, Wife of a Soldier said...

I don't like how my kids are not growing up near family either. It is so hard sometimes. Our kids are strong though :) Great post!

Jenn said...

Love this. And OMG baby pictures! They were so squishy back then!

Anonymous said...

You know... I've struggled with many of the same feelings, about raising my kids far from family and moving them around often. I wrote about this a couple of years ago (am I really getting old?) and have felt like I need to do an update – now I have a kid who was born in a different country! The thing that brings me comfort is a reminder that some of the strongest, most confident and resilient friends of mine were raised as military children. Seriously. While it's an upbringing that's completely foreign to the one I know, childhood in the military comes with a lot of opportunities to develop characteristics most other kids don't get a chance to know. It's pretty cool.

PS... LITTLE BRADY! Brings back warm fuzzies of play group :)

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