One of the hardest parts about being a military family is that you never stay in one place for very long. For example, my daughter is 5 years old. During those 5 years, she has lived in 6 different houses that were in 5 different cities in 3 different states. As a comparison, I only lived in 3 different houses that were all in the same town for the first 18 years of my life.
While it’s exciting to move to new places, it’s also very hard on a family. It’s never easy to make new friends, but it’s always a little harder when you know you’ll have to say goodbye to that person in the near future.
It’s certainly hard on the kids. At that age, a lot of their development depends on normalcy and consistency. Massive changes like brand new houses can really throw their routine for a loop. We were in the final stages of potty training our daughter before one of our moves. Once we got settled into the new house, however, she had huge setbacks. Her routines were gone, and it really threw her out of her groove. She’s a trooper, so she was able to get it figured out and move on, but it was a tough couple months for her. Now that she’s in school, I can only imagine how much more painful the next move will be.
It certainly hasn’t been easy for my wife either. When she was 7 months pregnant with our son, she had to sleep on an air mattress for 2 weeks because the truck with all of our furniture got stuck in a freak deep-south snowstorm. Imagine how painful that was. Then there’s always the issue of trying to get a job somewhere when you (and the employer) know that you won’t be there very long. It’s incredibly tough. I am incredibly fortunate to have found my wife 8 years ago because she is the most supportive and awesome person I know.
There are less obvious and somewhat humorous side effects and benefits to this as well. If we stay in the same place for more than 6 months, we start to get a little antsy. Usually, we will massively rearrange the furniture, and then we’ll feel better. My wife has become the queen of packing things. During out last move, we actually moved ourselves instead of having professionals do it. My job was to carry everything to the truck while she arranged it. She was able to pack everything that we own into a truck that everyone swore was too small with exactly zero room to spare. After driving for 10 hours, we opened the truck and nothing in there had shifted an inch. She would have a bright future with Mayflower or one of those other moving companies.
The moral of the story is that if you see a family moving into your neighborhood and one of them walks around in a uniform, take the time to go say hello. It’s always a little intimidating to move into a new area, and a friendly face is always welcome.