In my just-over-two-years as a military wife, my life has completely changed. I've learned "the system," moved states away from "home," and taken on an entirely different form of reality. No, I didn't change my morals or beliefs, nor vastly adjust spending habits – the military still leaves you with an identity, after all. Instead, I learned to adapt: how to navigate a new area, how to use a different health care system and shopp where an ID is required, and how to write on my calendar with a pencil, because my husband's schedule is always bound to change.
This summer I took on a new role still: motherhood. Our now two-month old son was born in June, and I'm learning not only how to take care of a child, but doing so as a military family.
As far as I can tell, the basics are the same. He was born in a hospital, he goes to the doctor, and does normal baby things. (We're also quite smitten.)
But for the future, other differences will begin to surface.
We will move. He will be asked where he was born and why he lived there. Others will want to know what his father did while he served. We will choose schools that are either on or off of base, he'll learn to shop without taxes and to show an ID to get through gates. He will know there are certain questions that can't be asked about jobs. His father might take long and dangerous work trips. He'll learn to move quickly and to make new friends, and that sometimes you're at the mercy of paperwork.
This is, of course, dependent on how long his father chooses to serve. But even at only a few months old, the military has affected our son.
Growing as a Family
Being far away from our homes, my husband and I have learned to make friends and to be independent. This is something our son, too, will learn. He will have close "aunts" and "uncles" who are very prominent in his life at times, and who we might move away from. Though they will still communicate – he will learn he might not spend time with them like he used to.
We will go to activities, join clubs, and more events that are meant for military families. Because it's something we all have in common and creates an almost instant bond. Besides, such groups are generally tailored to busy and/or erratic schedules.
He will experience the culture of each place we live. By going to local events and seeing the sights (especially the touristy ones that locals won't bother booking), we'll gain a better understanding of where we live and how to explain it to others who are sure to ask. (Friends, family from back home, and anyone thinking about moving to your area too.)
Though being a military "brat" will ultimately help shape the person my son will become, it will act as a tool for him to socialize, learn new skills, experience different areas, and especially, to understand what and who he has in his life at all times.