The Downside of Military Life: Dealing with Aging Parents and Travel Limitations for the Holidays

The hubby and I have been on this military journey long enough that are parents somehow have gotten old (which somehow may mean Hubby and I have aged as well, but I’m not ready to admit that just yet).

grandparents

When our kids were just babies, we established with the grandparents the expectation that they come to us for the holidays, wherever we might be. Typically, travel for two seasoned travelers is easier and cheaper, instead of one frazzled supermom alone with two young’uns or, when the mission allowed, a family of four.

Since entering military service many years ago, we have never been stationed anywhere close to either set of parents. The best-to-date distance has been 300 miles, one state over. In my younger days, when I had more energy and seemingly more disposable income, I did not find the distance an impediment. Sure, I didn’t see my parents and in-laws as much as I wanted, but I know it comes with the territory.

Since having kids, I am much more wistful about the distance and the infrequency of which we see our family. It takes a lot of time and energy to maintain any relationship, but maintaining family ties is the salt of life and so worth it for generations of family to know each other. I have driven all over these great United States, mainly the Midwest, for some face time with the great grandparents, grandparents, extended family, in-laws, and friends over the years, but usually just in the summer. For the holidays, the family comes to us.

Until this year.

This year marks the switch for my parents.

After their last visit which involved direct cross-country flights, they announced that their flying days were coming to an end. They would not be traveling to us this holiday season. They just can’t do the flying thing anymore, and driving is not feasible with the current distance apart. Health issues and the inability to travel light make flying a difficult and intolerable experience for them. Quality time with the grandkids is no longer enough of an incentive. The time has come that we travel to them.

Traveling with my children doesn’t seem quite as daunting since there are no more diaper bags involved. And yet now that I am considering this new change, holiday travel does seem overwhelming, namely the logistical challenges involved and the necessity of a revised travel budget. (Yikes!)

I’m coming to realize that Life is changing again, that my family and I are entering into a new season, a new stage of life, which requires flexibility, redefined expectations and new traditions.

So, I will continue to choose my family, even if it now involves four airplane tickets for an adventurous, packed-like-sardines, cross-country trip during the most wonderful time of year. (Choose love. Budget. Breathe. This is an Adventure!)

What about you? How do you maintain family ties while in the military? What are your family expectations on visits and holidays?

Valerie

Advertisements

Not even 3 Months and it’s already LOVE

“Mom, I love it here! I want to stay.” [Insert my sinking heart here.]

Tree Lined Avenue

Both of my children separately uttered these words to me, unprompted, last week as we were going about our daily living. The kids love their new schools, this neighborhood, and their routines. Love with a capital L, maybe even LOVE with all capitals. They are happy, joyful, bursting at the seams, wanting, wishing that this place is Home. As in permanent home. Or at the very least, longer-than-11-months home.

Handsome Young Man and Diva Darling are excited for each and every day. No moping. No dread. No bullying. Just happy to be here. Present and in the moment.

I am relieved that this transition has been easy for them. (Maybe too easy!)

I may even pat myself on the back for making good choices that have benefited my family. Since the spring, I have prepared them as best I could about upcoming changes, handling themselves in new situations, making new friends, being themselves, and having the courage to try new things. It makes my head spin, thinking about how much has been thrown at them this past summer.

If the Queen Bee is calm, her Busy Bees should be calm too, right? Although if you truly knew how I handled this move, calm would not be the first word choice that comes to mind. Yet our hive has transplanted and is thriving and buzzing along splendidly in the Deep South.

And yet…

My heart already sinks knowing that staying here is highly unlikely. That this time next year, we will be somewhere else, most likely a place we have never been before, with new schools, a new neighborhood, a new routine. I am already dreading the break-up.

I do not dread the relocation and all the details and decisions it entails. I dread detaching from here and putting on my brave face to be the newcomer yet again. It’s getting harder for me because now it involves watching how my children will detach themselves from a place that they have grown to love, watching them insert themselves in a new place.

I can only hope that they will continue to be excited for each and every day. Today. And one year from today in the new place.

But let me remind myself to not get ahead of myself. I am happy to be here. I am present and in the moment. Because it’s not even three months, and it’s love! Ok, love is a rather strong word. Although perhaps I am willing to say I am, surprisingly, rather smitten with Montgomery.

It is my children who, unintentionally, teach me that everything is going to be alright, when it is I who thinks I am teaching them life’s lessons.

Are you smitten with your current not-my-forever home?

Valerie

A Year of Fun & Fitness in Montgomery, Alabama

Hello Nametag
I have recently relocated to Montgomery, Alabama (Maxwell AFB).

One question looming, as I unpack the house, navigate through a new city, get my family settled, is how much do I invest of myself in this community?

Our time here is short.  As I write, we are 3-months down of an 11-month stay.  Already the powers that be in Military Assignments are working on our next assignment.  I liken it to “Assignment Roulette,” as we truly have no control where the next assignment will be (although I’m hoping, not so secretly, that it’s DC!).

I think the holding pattern of thinking “I’m only here for 10 months – why bother?” is prevalent among the milspouse community here because of the nature and timing of the military school environment.  The local community, while welcoming, also knows it’s a revolving door of military families.

I can’t think about the next move yet, when I have a life right here and now to live presently and fully.   I do not want to be in a holding pattern.  Instead, I am using this time to pursue my self interests.   For the record, I considered working but my resume/track record/present career goals need a major overhaul before this is a viable option, but one that needs to be addressed before the next move.  (I will be exploring this topic at length this year because military spouse employment opportunities and challenges are a real issue for our community.)

I have decided that this is my year of writing and working out, aka fun & fitness.  These are things that I always want to do, but I frequently pushed them off my to do list at our last duty location in Texas.  I am writing and working out, no excuses.  I am making connections, making new friends and acquaintances.  I am volunteering.

I will leave Montgomery a better person, or at the very least, more fit.

How are you using your time and talents in your new location?

Valerie