Every April, military children around the globe are provided an exclusive occasion to recognize and honor their sacrifices due to the unique lifestyle they live. Boys and girls with moms and dads in the armed forces were born into a life of PCSing, being the “new kid” and an infinite number of goodbyes. Being a military brat, while an honor, is a hardship very few have endured and one that deeply connects those who do have the title.
My dad was in the Army for 21 years. I am the oldest of four children. Growing up, the best friends I made didn’t change from duty station to duty station. I realize now that my best friends were actually my two younger sisters and younger brother. My best friends, the ones I laughed with, cried with and endured a roller coaster of successes and failures throughout my childhood with, were built right into my family.
Together, my Army brat siblings and I supported our parents through 12 moves and two combat deployments. Together, we said “hello” and “goodbye” to dozens of friends while consoling each other that we would surely see those classmates again soon. Together, we spent hours and hours in the car watching DVDs (remember those?) on repeat, as my family drove cross-country to our new home. Together, my sisters, brother and I saw my mom conquer single parenthood while my dad was overseas. Together, we tackled the question, “Where are you from?” and together, we learned what it meant to bloom where we were planted.
As a military brat, I was pretty familiar, and dare I say comfortable, with making new friends and even being the new girl. Growing up connected to the military brought the most incredible people into my life — many of whom I still keep up with. These friends shared special moments of a specific phase of my life, but you know who was there for every single phase? My sisters and brother.
A military brat has no better friend in their life than their siblings.
Don’t get me wrong, we are no 1950’s sitcom with a picture-perfect family: Four kids, lots of dogs, small on-post housing, a dad who was often gone and a mom who loved to volunteer was usually complete chaos. However, now as an adult with a child of my own, I don’t mind looking back on my childhood and viewing it with rose-colored glasses.
I’ve now “graduated” from Army brat to Army spouse. As my husband and I build our own family, it is my sincerest hope our daughter has siblings who will be there for her like mine were always there for me. I wonder if my daughter and her future siblings will go on walks to the PX just for some fries or rearrange all the furniture in their rooms in the middle of the night because moving so often means you get bored of furniture arrangements easily. I wonder how many times they’ll go to the bowling alley on Friday nights because there isn’t anything else to do. I wonder how many games of “I spy” they’ll play in the car. And I wonder if she’ll be half as thankful for her siblings as I am for mine. While it was never “cool” to admit your sisters and brother were your best friends, I’ll admit (this one’s for you, Dad) they were then, and they are now.
As military brats, you’ll have a lot of people come and go in your life, but I promise that your siblings will be there beside you every step of the way.
I dedicate this blog post to all my fellow military brats, but especially to my sisters and brother — Katie, Megan and Owen. Happy Month of the Military Child!