I’ve made no secret about the fact that JBLM and I aren’t the best of friends; it’s not my favorite duty station and, frankly, I would never have outright pointed at a map and said, “hey, I want to live there!” Military life is a mixed bag though, and I made a commitment after Ryan’s deployment to Iraq to work on changing my mindset because it crippled me a lot in the first years of our marriage. I very much had this sort of victim mentality. Everything happened to me, and rather than looking at things as an opportunity to grow and learn, I let them get me down. I’ve worked long and hard to change my perception though, and today for my Friday Favorites, I wanted to mix it up! I’m sharing five of the best parts of military life – things that have helped transform us as a family, helped me grow as a mama, and that are oh-so-sweet about this lifestyle.
Exploring is Par for the Course
Every 3-4 years, the Army sends us some place new. This isn’t for everyone. For me, however, this is gold. I’ve always been an anywhere but here kind of girl. I’m always looking for the next adventure, the next trip, the next place. I’ve yet to find a single place that I’m one hundred percent without a doubt certain I know I would be happy to spend the rest of my life. While JBLM and the PNW might not be “it” for us, I’m grateful for our opportunity to live here, experience this neck of the woods, and explore. Likewise, I would never have known Black River, NY existed before we moved to Fort Drum. Our neighbors became family, Canada became our backyard, and we had the chance to explore. I love that adventure comes standard with this lifestyle, as long as you’re willing to make the best of it.
You Meet So Many New People
Yes, finding your tribe at each new duty station is hard. And, as a work-at-home mama, I have the added challenge of not necessarily meeting that many new people unless I step out of my comfort zone. If you’re willing to open yourself up, challenge yourself, and get out there though, you have the chance to meet so many great people from all walks of life. What would I do without Hannah? Emily. Maribel, Mareike, Loralee, Alicia (the list goes on). All these people have impacted our lives in some way, and all of them have become friends – then our Army family – which will far surpass the time at any single duty station.
It’s an Endless Opportunity to Grow
Military life isn’t easy. We are always on the go. We are constantly weathering deployments, TDYs, crazy work tempos, new places; you name it, we’re doing it, or we’ve done it. I was extremely naive about the reality of this lifestyle when we first got married, but military life presents you with two options: 1) grow and adapt or 2) be miserable and/or duck out. Option two was never an option for me, so I had the chance to grow. Change my mindset. Learn to embrace the best and worst of each place and challenge at hand. I think that this was a large part of why this last deployment was easier for me than our first.
Our Kids Can Handle Big Things
In Spencer’s five years of life, he’s been in no less than four different daycares. He’s had no less than 16 different teachers. He’s lived in four houses, three states, and driven across the country from New York to Washington. His first plane ride was at 13 days old when we PCSed from Fort Huachuca to Fort Drum. All three of our children have been born in different states, and all three of them will face (and have faced) their own unique set of challenges. They handle them in their own way, but they are bold. They are strong. They are so resilient. While this isn’t the easiest of lifestyles, these little beans roll with each and every change with so much strength and dignity.
It Makes You Bold
Each and every change we embark on has challenged us to learn and grow as a couple and as a family. It’s taught us that we can do hard things, embrace the proverbial road less traveled, and make things work. Military life teaches you to make the most of something, regardless of your circumstances. Never in my life did I think that I would move at 37 weeks pregnant – by choice. Because nothing is constant in this lifestyle but the lack of inconsistency, you learn to make the most of it. Do more. See more. Just get up and go. It’s definitely made me more bold over the years, and I love that I have the chance to show our kids that they, too, can do big, scary, challenging things.
There are many sides to this military life, but these the best parts of military life for us. Today, I want to focus on the good and share it in the hopes that you, too, can find the good in whatever you’re dealing with in this season of your life.
Happy weekend, friends!