4th of July: Celebrating Military Moving Moms

celebratingHappy Independence Day to all you American moving mamas (and a belated Happy Canada day to anyone from up North!) As we celebrate everything that makes the United States of America great, we want to celebrate some of the bravest and sacrificial moving moms we know: military moving moms! We asked them all about their lives and how civilian families can best help out military families! So, without further ado, meet Meridyth, Micah and Rachel!

 

Meridyth, Kentucky

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Tell us a about your family!
 
My husband, Patrick, and I got married in December 2001. We have four kids: three boys (ages 9, 6, and 4) and a girl (14 months). I don’t take it for granted that I’m able to stay home with our kids and we home-school as well. Some days, I feel like a wide-eyed kid all over again, learning something new for the first time. It’s wild and loud and exhausting most days, but even on those days I can’t wait to put them to bed…I love it. For fun, I have a little home-based business that connects women in my community with other women around the world! When we got married, Patrick was installing garage doors and going to college in the evenings. My brother had just joined the Army and his brother had just joined the Navy, so we decided to see what it was all about. We felt that the Air Force was the best fit for us and he enlisted in April 2002 in the Intelligence Field. We have lived in Texas, California, and Alaska! We currently live in Kentucky where he is working as a recruiter for a few years.
 
Tell us a little about your moves.
Our first home with the military was in Monterey, Ca. We didn’t have far to move since we lived in Sacramento, only 3 hours away. After a year in technical school, we made our first big move to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Tex. for four years. We rented for a few years and thought we would be there for a long while so we finally decided to purchase our first home and moved in on our 4th anniversary. We were trying to start a family at the time, so we were really excited to take that step.
Eight months later, when we were holding a positive pregnancy test in one hand and orders to move back to California in the other, we had such mixed emotions! That time of trying to sell or rent our home right when the market started to plummet was so difficult for us, but it tested and strengthened our marriage just before we welcomed our first baby boy later that year. We moved within California two more times over the next few years, to Beale AFB and back to Monterey, adding two more beautiful boys to the mix. In 2012, we moved to Elmendorf AFB in ALASKA! We drove up to Washington where we traveled by ferry on the Alaskan Highway for 5 days in the December winter. It was GORGEOUS! Those three years went by so fast! When Patrick became a recruiter, and we moved most recently it was the first time our boys were old enough to feel the loss of friends. There were more tears than just my own, but it’s shaping their character and growing us closer as a family. This is the first time that we haven’t lived on or near a military base. There are no Air Force Bases in Kentucky and the closest base is an hour away. It’s been tough not instantly having a community of people who understand what you do and come alongside to share this life we’ve chosen, but everyone has been so welcoming to us. One of the reasons we chose our current city was because we heard so many positive things and felt it would be a great place to raise our growing family for the next few years. It’s been 6 months since we moved here and I feel like we are finally starting to feel settled and each of us are building good, solid friendships!
Tell us about your favorite place so far.
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That’s a hard one. Each move has been so different! Monterey is definitely special to us, living there three separate times with our first home, then our first baby and then our third baby, but, I think I would have to say Alaska was my favorite. We both remember a different kind of feeling when we were moving there. We felt so adventurous leaving the “lower 48!” There were long, dark winters and long, bright summers, but it was all over so quickly! Our oldest was in kindergarten when we moved there, so we took advantage of the funding Alaska offers to home-school families. He learned to read there, he lost his first teeth there and our second child learned to talk there! So many firsts that happened with our kids happened there. We experienced both heartbreaking loss and overwhelming joy while we lived there. I miscarried two babies, we fostered 7 children and in May 2015, I gave birth to our baby girl! It all brings tears to my eyes. It was definitely the place that changed me the most.
What is the best thing about military life?
I love seeing my husband in his uniform! Hands down…number one thing. I love looking around and seeing the people I would have never met outside of the military life. There really is something for everyone and it can provide so much opportunity that never would have been available otherwise. I see that so much more now that my husband is a recruiter. It also has connected me with people I had lost touch with over the years. After we had been in the military for about 5 years, I found two friends from my old youth group joined the military, one in the Navy, and one in the Air Force, who was actually in the same career field as my husband. Three of my closest friends from childhood became military wives. My brother, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and cousin all serve and there’s an understanding and an appreciation for each other because they all know what it means to serve and sacrifice, some definitely more than others.
image-1Because I’ve been a part of my husband’s military career from the beginning, I’ve played a very active role in everything he does. Because of that, I’m able to encourage young military wives to invest time asking questions and learning about what their husbands do, what all the acronyms mean on his pay stub, how to handle insurance questions and moving for the first time. I love the sense of pride my children have in their dad, their uncles and the military. They stop and put their hand over their hearts when they hear the Star Spangled Banner. There is such a sense of pride that comes over me when someone stretches out their hand to my husband and thanks him for his service and we are raising our kids to understand what that means and they are learning to honor those who have served in the same way.
How do you cope with the changes moving brings?
Before I met my husband, I had made a few state-to-state moves that really helped prepare me to be a military wife and a mother to military kids. The actual process of coming and going can be hard, but there is a constant circle of events we can always prepare for. Fortunately for us, when we move to a new duty station, we already know when we’ll be leaving before we ever get there. Anticipation always starts to build when we know new orders are coming and we actually begin to look forward to the process again.
When we move to a new town, we find coffee shops, good restaurants, parks and libraries. When we move into our new home, the kids pick their bedrooms, we fill the fridge and count down the days until our household goods are delivered. It used to be really hard for me to get motivated to hang anything on the walls or personalize our space, but I’m really learning the value of setting up “home” wherever we are. I want to create a place that is always familiar, always home for my family. That’s been a huge area of growth for me and it’s still a work in progress. Moving has really helped me see the value in having a place to retreat when the world gets overwhelming. Phone calls, text messages and social media help to keep us connected to our people no matter where we are. We have friends stationed around the country now so we know we’ll always have a place to stay when we need to pass through!
There are a couple groups I always turn to before and after a move: PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) is a group of women who gather to study the Bible and support women and their families within the military community, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), “Moving House for the Military Spouse” is a Facebook page where people share photos of base housing at each duty station and another called “White Walls”, where military families share how they have made their house a home…even when you can’t paint the walls!
What are the best ways civilian families can support military families?
 
I think the way to support a military family is to remember that we’re just like other families. Our needs really are the same. Don’t be afraid to befriend someone because you know they’ll only beimage-2 there for a year. Offer to watch their kids while they set up their home, or clean when they move out. Invite a military mom out for a glass of wine because she’s a mom just like you and probably needs a break. If she can’t leave the house because her husband works late nights or overnight and she put her kids to bed by herself again for the billionth time after spending all day with them, bring a bottle of wine to her and be the friend she probably needs. If you meet a military family that has just moved to town, invite them to dinner. Bring your children to a military cemetery on Veteran’s Day and hear the stories of men and women who have fought for our country. Let your children see you shake a veteran’s or a soldier’s hand and thank them for their service. Operation We Are Here is a website for military families and military supporters. It’s a great place to look if someone’s looking for a way to get involved in the military community. You can also donate to a non-profit that supports military families, like Operation Homefront, The Wounded Warrior Project, or Team Red, White & Blue.
 
How do you all celebrate the 4th of July?
 
A. We are so excited to see fireworks this year! Ok, it actually may be just me because I know what we’ve been missing! Alaska is called The Land of the Midnight Sun for a reason! It wasn’t dark enough in July for a good fireworks show. There was always a little something at midnight, but we have little kids and that just wasn’t gonna happen. We like to keep it simple: a parade, a BBQ with friends, some sparklers and the long weekend. This year, we have military family close by for training, so they are coming to visit for a few days!

Micah, North Carolina

AK Hatchers Pass 2011  Tell us a about your family!y!

My husband and I have been married six years and have 2 boys, (4) & (1).

Tell us a little about your moves.

We have lived in three different states, Missouri, Alaska, & North Carolina. We grew up in Missouri and were able to spend 6 months stationed there before our first PCS (permanent change of station) to Alaska. We lived there for three and a half years and then moved to North Carolina where we are currently.

Any favorite places from where you lived?

Alaska is definitely my favorite place so far! The indescribable beauty of the land is almost overwhelming. We are very outdoorsy people and loved being able to experience the hiking, fishing, and hunting adventures that Alaska had to offer. We really strive to make the best of where we live so we experience as much as we can. Some of my favorites were learning to downhill ski, attending the Iditarod & Fur Rondy festivals, and hiking at Hatcher’s Pass near Palmer, Alaska. If you ever get a chance to visit Alaska, set aside a day (or two!) and go AK Eagle river nature center 2012hike Hatcher’s Pass.

What do you love most about the military life?

The military life is so unique. When we first found out we were moving to Alaska, I was terrified. But once I got over the initial shock of moving 4,000 miles away from my hometown, I was excited. This was an opportunity that doesn’t come often to others and I knew we were going on an adventure of a lifetime. That is one big thing I love about the military: the adventure. The next big thing I love about it is the friendships & bonds you make with other people who know what you’re going through. I have made some amazing friends in the places we have lived and I can honestly say that they are like family. We’ve spent holidays, birthdays, and many game nights together. It iss what helps make each place a home.

AK 2013How do you cope with the changes moving brings?

This is definitely a tough aspect of military life. I have learned that taking it one day at a time and lots of prayer is the best way for me to cope with the stresses of moving. Not just packing and unpacking in a new location but also the many “see you laters” for friends. We also try to dive in to the new place and explore the area. Being adventurous helps ease some of the stress of moving. Finding a new home church is always challenging, (I like to call it ‘church shopping’) but once we’ve found “the one” it really is a great source for support. I’ve also recently been attending PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) on post and the bible studies and fellowship have really made the transition to a new place so much easier. It definitely helps to get plugged into the community and be involved. I still miss my friends from our previous location, but social media does help us keep in contact and up to date on each others lives.

What do you want civilian families to know about military families?NC Beach 2016

This is a tough question! I really can’t speak for any other families, but for me, I just want to say yes, we are unique in the way our family lives our lives, but this is our normal. It’s definitely not easy, but neither is any other family life. We have to work hard for our marriage and for our relationships with our children. Do I wish that we didn’t have to spend so much time apart? Yes, of course, but this is what God has called us to do right now. And because of my faith, I’m able to see the positive in our situation.

How do you think civilian families can best support military families?
As a military family, it’s always so amazing when we have support from friends and family. That can look so different depending on the need. Specifically during deployments: lending an ear to a friend who’s having a hard time, inviting the family over for dinner, watching the kids so the spouse can have some ‘me’ time, making dinner and taking it over to the family. Also, just a quick note or letter of encouragement from a friend can be such a spirit lifter, as well as lots of prayers. If you don’t know any military families but would still like to help support, you can contact a local USO and they can help point you in the right direction

What do you all do on the Fourth of July?

The last several years we have attended the 4th of July celebrations on post. They usually have several artists or bands perform, all kinds of carnival food, games for kids, sometimes an aerial show with planes, helicopters and parachuters and a huge fireworks show. It is such a fun thing to experience! It is quickly becoming a tradition for us, but this year we are able to visit our families over the holiday and that is a tradition that I won’t ever pass up when given the opportunity.

Rachel, Mary10464368_10202264353192543_7355160227552472294_nland

Tell us a little about your family!

Josh and I have been married for 5 years, our anniversary is on July 8, so its coming up! We have three children, Ryan will be 4 on our anniversary, Kayla is 2 ½ and Nathan is 9 months. Josh is a Captain and works in the space field in the Air Force.

Tell us a little about your moves.

When we got married Josh was in Colorado Springs, and so I moved out there with him. We were there for 3 and a half years and then moved to ou10694342_10203019171222522_823144404041560618_or current station in Maryland and we have been here for about a year and a half. Assignments are generally three to four years depending on rank and job, so we should be here for about another year and a half before we move again.

What has been your favorite place to live so far?

We definitely loved Colorado Springs. Even though it was far from both families, it really felt like home. There were some many things about that area that we loved: the mountains, the weather, the people. It’s definitely a military heavy city with three bases, so there is a lot of military support. Colorado is also an area that is very family-friendly and family-oriented, which is very important to us and we had an amazing support group in our church, which was a big reason why we loved that area.

How do you cope with the changes moving brings?
This is definitely one of the harder aspects of military life. The first six months to a year are the hardest because you still feel like you’re “missing out” on everything that is happening in the last place you lived, but don’t know enough people in the new city. However, our main priority when we settle in to a new place is to find a church home where we can be involved and make new friends. I always try to find a Mom’s group and a Bible Study where I can meet other women in our life stage to be able to connect and build friendships

13501956_10206421268592830_7193294624408586718_nWhat do you want civilian families to know about military families?

I would say I would want them to know that we’re really just normal families. The most difficult part is being away from family, as is the case with every family that moves around, but we LOVE to make friends wherever we are. Also, sometimes it’s difficult to reach out to other families in new areas as they already have their support groups in place, but for other families to come along side us and build relationships with us, even though we know we will be moving away eventually is really encouraging.

What are the best ways civilian families can support military families?

I think the biggest way civilian families can support military families is to support the military. There are a lot of things that are outside of our control when it comes to the military and family life and just coming along side and being there for us means a lot. As an example, Josh had to go on a work trip when Nathan was just a few months old, so that meant I was on my own with three very little kiddos for an entire week. My ladies Bible study came along side of us and brought me dinner for that week so I would have one less thing to worry about. Its really the little things that mean the most to military families.

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