Change, transition, turmoil, upheaval…INSANITY! If you are married to a military person, these terms should be readily available in your vocabulary. I would also add excitement, adventure, new housing, new places to explore and new friends to make. I have loved my life as a military daughter and, now for the last 25 years, as a wife.
I always knew this day would come, but just like saving money for retirement, it always seemed liked it was a far off possibility that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. PEOPLE IT’S HAPPENING!
Shortly, for the first time in my life, I will no longer be an active-duty dependent. What does that even look like? Odds are no one from the outside looking in will see the change. But those who have gone before know we stand on a ledge peering tenuously over. They all stand down there waiving up at us, yelling “JUMP IN, IT’S AWESOME!” and they really do look like they are having fun.
The dark-haired, adorable (thinner) young Marine I married is now thicker, considerably older (as am I), with more silver hair. Thank goodness for my magical hair stylist — my hair doesn’t have the silver issues his hair does…
One of the grandest transitions of all is before us. It’s right up there with getting married, having a baby, and then another, and then another and so forth. Dare I say this is bigger than those babies growing up and leaving home? Yes, I do dare say it!
Where do we go? What do we do? How do we act? WHAT DOES HE WEAR TO WORK? Who is going to be my friend? How do I pick a neighborhood? Now, I do exaggerate some. We’ve lived in civilian communities before, we’ve had some choices and we have great networks, so some of those questions aren’t totally unanswered. The great common theme in all of these decisions previously has been the military of course.
I have suspected I might have a big adjustment to life away from an installation, but I didn’t realize how much my older children might be worried about adjusting until the other day. My 18-year-old daughter, a senior in high school, looked at me and said, “Mom, I don’t think I can be a civilian.” My first thought was, “Did she join the military when I wasn’t looking?” Then after I appropriately made fun of her, we talked about what it would be like living away from the military environment. This is how it’s been. We are a military family and we’ve shouldered the burdens and the adventures together, as a family. I am not sure why I didn’t realize we would retire as a family too.
So how do we proceed? Like we always have — together, with a lot of laughter, some tears and with a look forward to the future that builds on the past without dwelling on it. It’s been a good life, and I don’t foresee THAT changing — just the where and how we are living it.
As you and your family approach transitions, regardless of what they are — retirement, moving or deployment, let’s change the conversation. Do your homework, make your preparations and don’t ask, “Are we ready for retirement?” but ask instead, “Is retirement ready for us?”