Moving Mom Monday: Cherrie Castro
Moving Mom Monday is a series that features real moms and real families that move around the world. We feature families from all walks of life and all lines of work. If you know someone who you think would like to share their moving journey, please contact us.
We are so excited to bring back the Moving Mom feature! Today we interview Cherrie Castro. She is a former military wife and now a construction wife to a husband that is on the road! She has so much great advice to share! Thanks, Cherrie!
1. Tell us a little about you and your family.
My husband retired from the Navy after 24 years of service. He did four years enlisted, went to college (where I met him) and then was an officer for the rest of his tours. I was a military spouse for 20 years. Roland and I had our son at his third duty station in Connecticut. Our second child, Kylee, was born in Japan and our third in Hawaii. The military gave us so many life experiences.
2. How long was your husband in the military? Tell us a little about your moves.
Roland was an enlisted submariner for four years, then went to college at University of Arizona for Electrical Engineering. Upon graduating from college, we went back in the military for a four-year tour (at least that was our intention at the time). We were promptly moved to Florida one week after graduation, for six months, for Officer Submarine School. We were then moved to Massachusetts for another six months. Then it was on to Connecticut for a three-month stay. After Connecticut, we moved across the country to make our home in Washington State.
Three years later, we took a duty station in Japan. We felt like we could do anything for three years even if it meant leaving our first children (our two poodle pomeranians who stayed behind with my husband’s parents during this time) and what an opportunity to see different countries. From Japan we moved to Connecticut for three months and another school for Roland. The moving truck was in our driveway packing up to move us to Virginia when he arrived in the driveway to stop the movers and let me know Hawaii was our new duty station as of that day. All of our belongings were taken off the truck and unpacked, then repacked in crates or prepped for storage since we could only take so many things to Hawaii. He did a tour on a fast attack submarine and then changed careers and became part of the Seal Team located in Pearl Harbor.
We did two more tours here and then decided we would really like to spend more time together. We moved the family to Omaha, Nebraska where we took a few years to learn how to truly live together again and co-parent. Even after the military there were moves. After nine years of a settled routine and married life with our three children, we picked up once again and moved to Missouri. We enjoyed two more years of time together and then he came home one February and said he was excited about a new job that was more his style, but it meant he would be moving all over the country again. We decided together we knew how to live this life of separation and it would be best to leave our high school-aged children in place.
3. Tell us some general wisdom you’ve learned from your years of moving? Anything you can reflect on now that you’ve stopped moving and are situated in one location.
One of the things I always prioritized was to make every move into a home, whether it was for three months or three years. Whether it was military housing or a small apartment, I always hung pictures and put everything away in its place. I realized the only consistency for my children were the things in their home and I wanted Roland to always have that “welcome home” feeling when he arrived from his last destination. Because of doing this for some many years, it was hard to make the decision to stay behind now while my husband works out of town, but I realize just like families grow and change so does your wisdom and you reevaluate the best way to handle a situation. The children and I still try to make things comfortable when he arrives from his temporary duty stations now. We bake cookies, have his favorite foods, and enjoy our time together.
I was told to make sure I didn’t loose myself when I became a military spouse. I remember thinking “what does that mean? I realized it is important to have something in your life that you love outside your home. For me it was fitness. First, I did it for myself and then made a career out of it. This gave me time away, my children experiences with other children, and a way for me to have positive interactions.
It was important for me to have friends who were military spouses, as well. It is important to have people who are going through the same thing you are and who have children who are going through it too. It gave me “family” around the holidays and birthdays when we couldn’t travel and or their dad was away.
The other thing the kids and I did was create a “patrol” box. The kids would color pictures or scribble on colored paper and when old enough they would write something and we would send it to him. Sometimes we would pick out books or candy to put in there, too. This seemed to help them and I would remind them that their dad was opening something from them that day.
Last but definitely not least, my mom said she was not leaving one time while she visited until I had a babysitter lined up for once a week for when Roland returned. I explained to her that with three kidsm a once-a-week babysitter was not in the budget. And she responded that it can be possible for an hour…take the time together to go for a walk, go for a car ride, go sit in a park with takeout, just take time for you all. This was some of the best advice we were ever given and we still do it to this day when he is home.
4. Anything you would warn against for families that move?
Stay away from drama.
5. What is the one best decision you made through all the moving?
We are glad that we took the opportunities to move. Along the way we became concerned sometimes about moving our children so much, especially when many of our own family members lived in a hometown and around family. Many of the experiences that we had learning other cultures, learning new things and being part of different communities really had positive impacts on our children. Our son was able to move to the East coast on his own for a great job opportunity. He had the confidence to go into the New York City office his second day on the job though he had never been there or rode the subway anywhere. Our middle child is extremely independent and just became an incredible mother to her own child. Our youngest is always looking for new experiences and is a leader in everything she does today. All of them embrace all cultures and find it fascinating.
The one thing I wish we could have done differently is kept better in touch with family here in the States. It is hard to stay close when you are states and countries away. We are working on making that better today. I think this is definitely easier now with technology.
6. Do you remember any advice you received from someone when you were moving that stuck with you?
Definitely the advice on dating your husband. My mom told me that for years starting when we had our son and it took me too long to listen. It makes such a difference.