Self-Imposed Family Separation – Geo-Bachelor by Choice

I just can’t do another move right now.  The thought of going through another move, so soon after moving to Paradise, moves me either to tears or flashes of anger.

I am getting burned out with being Mrs. Air Force always on the Move, always the Perpetual Newcomer.

This will be move #7 in 9 years and the constant move cycle with kids is not so much a fun adventure to me any more.

Add the fumbling of orders, the unexpectedness, the logistics, the decisions, the financial implications, the waiting, the unknown, the research.  All of that together stresses me out.  Does it and has it always worked out?  Yes, of course.  Have I always made the best of the situation and jumped right in to craft a life I love or at least can tolerate for the short amount of time we are there? Yes.  But the stress of moving on repeat, despite the resources available and the camaraderie of military families, has taken its toll on me.

After Hubby and I settled into the idea of looming change, we took serious consideration of our next step.  We usually embrace “Family first, no matter what.”  We have never really given much thought to a self-imposed separation.  Yet here we are, in a different stage of life, thinking about it.  I told Hubby through clenched teeth that we had to at least see if temporary separation could be a real possibility; otherwise, I feared my resentment of another move would consume me.  Sometimes, when it feels like 1 step forward and 2 steps back, it is hard to stay positive.  After spinning my wheels here in Hawaii thinking about forward motion towards education & career goals as we fast approach retirement, I found it crushing to give it all up for the time being to start focusing on the logistics of a move with kids, a dog, and too much stuff.

What about online school? What about this? What about that?  There are always options, but my point is that this requires a momentum shift and a lot more spinning of wheels to research different options.  And let’s be real – I have limited energy as it is and it’s hard for me to find balance, much less scraping my original plans and start researching online opportunities while overseas.

Hubby and I asked questions.  We crunched the numbers.  We made a short-term plan for the upcoming school year. We applied for a waiver to stay in Hawaii.

With gratitude, I gladly report that our waiver has been approved!

HUGE sigh of relief.

I feel grounded now through the swirl and whirlwind of this move for my husband.  It’s GO time in less than 4 weeks.  He’s TDY, of course.  He doesn’t have orders yet, of course.  It’s our normal operating procedure, but this time I’m standing clear, supporting from the sidelines, and not in the middle of the crazy.  I feel calm.  For now.

Things change.  All the time.  Control what you can.  Adjust your attitude to what you can’t.  And when possible, put your foot down and say “Enough! I need a break from this.”

We will reevaluate our options next spring. In the meantime, our hospitality hotel in Hawaii reopens in July.  Come visit!

Valerie

p.s. I came across this quote today:

“To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people just exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde

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We’re on the Move Again – to South Korea!

I did not take the unexpected assignment news well.

We have been in Hawaii less than a year.

I have been crying, cussing, and hurling bitter rage towards the Hubby and the Military.

The Invisible Hand of Military Assignments strikes again, with no reason or rationale given. (Yes, I know, I know….I expect too much.)

So after my epic temper tantrum (which is still ongoing – I’m still really pissed about the unexpectedness and abruptness of it all.), I will suck it up and gear up for the next “great adventure” that awaits us.

But let’s be honest – 3 moves in 3 years with kids to different states and now different countries IS hard. Especially since the original plan was that we would be in Hawaii for at least 2 years.  I get that plans change, but this abrupt change has been really difficult for me to accept because (1) I love Hawaii and (2) I had made MY plans and dreams, which now I must put on hold, regroup and reinvent, or give up entirely.  It’s hard to not be resentful.

The hubby & kids will not accept a self-imposed family separation, especially for two years.  Trust me, that was my first thought, “Have fun!  Kids and I will stay in paradise!”

I simply don’t know what I am going to do with myself for two years in South Korea (and maybe only a year) besides traveling.  I will soon have to drop everything to get ready for this move (passports, medical clearances, household management, transportation).   We will spend time with family this summer on the mainland, especially since visits will be far and few the next couple of years, and we will then spend time getting situated in our new temporary home.  When I feel less overwhelmed, I can investigate what opportunities are available in South Korea.  I’m not saying that there are not any there.  I’m just saying I’m tired of doing this for a 3rd year in a row.  I had my plan for Hawaii and now suddenly bye-bye.

Everybody I know is starting to offer the Pep Talk Platitudes – “Wow!  What an adventure!”

Or my second favorite “How awesome it will be for the kids to experience another culture!”

Or “Everyone who has been stationed there loves it!”

It IS an adventure, and it IS awesome.  Just not for me, not today.

Seize the day, Buttercup.

Or in my case, suck it up, Buttercup.

VALERIE

P.S.  It’s been 3 weeks since the surprise announcement, I have calmed down enough that I can say that I am leaving paradise and moving to Korea, without snarling or tears.  This is an improvement.  There are still many things that make my head spin – crazy neighbor in the north with weapons, Vog masks (pollution masks?), being halfway around the world from my aging parents….but it’s an “Adventure” so therefore we can dismiss all concerns and believe it’s going to be ok.

And it will all be ok.  I just don’t have to be ok about it every second of every day.

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