What Military Kids Want You to Know Might Surprise You

When I asked my kids out of the blue one day what they think people should know about being a military kid I had an idea of what they might say. What they ended up saying surprised me and put a little smile on my face. Granted my little goobers might not be an acceptable survey pool, considering the number of military kids there are in the world; but I was pleasantly surprised at their responses. If I sat and thought about it though I should be. Military kids are ridiculously resilient, able to pack a box and leap tall buildings in one single step. Okay, maybe they can’t leap tall buildings in real life but the hurdles they jump with surprising ease surprise me every day. So, here is what my three military kids want you to know about being them.

  1. Its really hard sometimes – Deployments, long hours, and for us – frequently monthly travel as well – mean that I am often the only parent they have. Some weekends I want to just sit down and cry because I have to figure out a way to be in four places at one time. I know that sometimes the kids bare the brunt of this.
  2. You get to meet new people alot!! – Only one negative and they already jumped in with a positive! They started rattling off all the people they get to meet, from Daddy’s military friends, new school friends, new church friends and even the First Lady.
  3. You get to see alot of places – Inside my mama heart was literally growing three sizes. My kids have been to a bunch of places, either because we lived there or we drove through and visited on a PCS adventure. I always hoped those would be exciting things for them and that they would remember them as such. So far, it seems as though they have.
  4. You have a dad you can brag about – this came from my 11 year old, who has for a good majority of his little life planned on following in his Dad’s footsteps. He’s me in a tiny boy package. He embraces all that military life is. Wants to watch the movies, wear the sweatshirts and loves to talk about all the cool parts of his life and what his Dad is all about. For the record, my daughter jumped in and said “Or mom too!!!” I gave myself a little pat on the back for that.
  5. Finally….my little guy jumped in. And in all his six year old seriousness he said, “You get to have lunch with your dad in his outfit (aka – Uniform). It’s all about perspective and priorities people

When people ask me about the military life I know that I would immediately be thinking of all the downsides, or struggles. I’d be quickly going through the list of things that I’m advocating for or things that I’d like to see changed. In my adultness I’m missing the good things. This is true I think no matter what your life is, military or not. And I was so incredibly proud of my kids, and frankly myself. Having shown them not so great sides of me, especially when dealing with the hard stuff of military life, I know I must be doing something right. Together my husband and I have helped them see the fun parts of military life, how to look on the bright side of things.  As far as I’m concerned my kids are rock stars and I’m so proud to be their mama.

Continue Reading

5 Thoughts Every MilSpouse Has ~ guest post ~

Blogging here at Cammo Style Love has brought some amazing people into my life. So many wonderful military spouses, writers, advocates and just plain ole amazing human beings! Today I am excited to share Hope you enjoy this wonderful post that I personally felt a connection to and was so happy to be able to share.   
“It’s just a month, Mom,” my almost 7 year old son tells me as I’m going through the ridiculous and unexplained emotional meltdown of preparing for (yet another) separation from my husband. I know his words sound callous, but it was, in fact, what I needed to hear. It is just a month. Of all the times my son has been without his father, this is one of the shortest. If he could see that, why couldn’t I? Why couldn’t I be as adaptable and ok with it as my kids were?
Was it because I knew what went on behind the scenes? The last three weeks of “go, no-go” that we endured with a final decision coming down 3 days before the departure date? A plan that had been set in motion over 6 months ago was slowly unraveling because of a lost piece of paper. A school that had been on his wish list for years was within grasp, but was being held up by some inability to communicate effectively between others. The hurry up and wait, the last minute packing, the anticipation were all compounding the fact that he was leaving, again.
Was it because I knew what he was going to miss? My kids are 5 and 6. While they understand how long a month is, how many weeks, how many days. They can see the big bold words, “Daddy Home” on the calendar and count down, but they don’t see what comes between. They don’t see that he’s going to miss a birthday and the first day of school – my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. All the fun things about preparing for school. All the hard things about this transition from one kid at home all the time to none.
Was it because I know what lies ahead? It took us a good two weeks to transition last time he left, and another solid two weeks when he came home. Pretty much we’ve been transitioning and struggling to find our balance since mid-April. He’s coming home to a new job with longer, often times more frustrating hours. He’s coming home to two kids in school, to homework, to extracurricular activities, to new friends, and a new schedule. And we’re fully expecting him to arrive on Saturday and be back at work in full-force on Monday before dawn.
Was it because this one is different? There are few guarantees in the military, but separations are one of them. With this being the 9th separation in our 8 year marriage, you’d think I’d just be over it. But as we change and grow together, these things feel different. And while I’ve gotten more used to doing somethings alone, the last few years have spoiled me. He’s been on a pretty easy schedule for a while and I’ve gotten used to relying on him being home in the evenings and helping out on the weekends. So when he leaves, it’s a bigger adjustment for us all.

But, no matter the difference, the emotions, the transition, it’s a part of our life. It always has been and it always will. And the best part about this one? It’s just a month. 

Rebecca Alwine has been a military spouse for over 8 years, traveling the world and learning about herself. She’s discovered she enjoys running, loves lifting weights, is a voracious reader, and actually enjoys most of the menial tasks of motherhood. She is an avid volunteer, most recently as President of the Fort Huachuca Community Spouses’ Club and has worked as a career counselor for transitioning service members. She has a Masters in Emergency Management from American Military University and a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the University of Mary Washington. Her writing has been published both in AUSA’s ARMY Magazine, Military Spouse Magazine, on Many Kind Regards, and multiple digital magazines and blogs. You can follow her on Twitter and on her website.
post signature
If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Continue Reading

How children deal….


 Over the many years of our military life, we’ve experienced many days, weeks and months without daddy.  It’s interesting how children evolve in their understanding.  Military kids are quite a breed of their own.  They experience things not a lot of other children do, and they adapt in their own ways.  One particular time in our life that comes to mind was when my oldest was about 4.  Ami was not really aware nor did I think she cared much.  At that point in her short little life it was all about mommy.  Brian, however, didn’t handle it quite as well.  He never wanted to leave me, even to be in the next room at Gymboree.  He was sad and cried all the time.  He couldn’t, however, explain it to me all that well.  He knew daddy was gone and thought he was in the computer.  I remember breaking down in Gymboree when my friend was visiting, trying to manage things.  Pretending like I had it all together when clearly I didn’t.  I think there was some lingering depression and just the fact that I couldn’t help my son.  The pressure on moms in general is undeniable.  We want to provide stability and happiness to our children; when we can’t it wrecks havoc in our mom brain and heart.  I had no other real support do to the nature of our location, and I didn’t have a lot of friends whose husbands were with mine.  Most of them weren’t married or were married to other service members.  The load was too much to bare and I kept it all in.  In turn I think whatever the kids were feeling was compounded by the feelings I thought I was keeping to myself.  They are pretty smart little devils aren’t they?

                   Getting in a little wrestle time

                                                                                                                           Daddy’s Home!
So now, during this most recent time apart I have a 17-month-old, an almost five-year-old and an almost seven-year-old.  Phillip is aware in his own way, and I notice it way more than Ami at his age.  Every time the phone rings he says “daddy daddy!”  He checks the bed and the closed bathroom door.  Brian is more talkative and obviously his understanding is way more developed than when he was 4.  He discusses it with his school counselor and his other military buddies at school (school counselor = amazing support).  Ami, so far, isn’t displaying any issues, verbal or otherwise.  However, her relationship with her daddy has recently developed into that typical daddy/daughter thing so we’ll see if that changes.

 of course, Murphy’s Law applies – via a hole in the chin

All I can do is take this one day at a time.  My support system here isn’t well developed, but what I do have is wonderful.  I recently just met a lady (while volunteering) that lives a similar life to mine.  She has young kids and doesn’t have support system that is connected to her husband’s career ( like me), which is different then a separate support system).  It was a little God moment.  I didn’t have to take this volunteer slot, I didn’t know much about her.  I also didn’t know I would need a ride to another metro station because the one where I was at was closed.  Sometimes its those little moments that you least expect, that don’t seem all that important, that make all the difference?

 post-deployment trip – my favorite picture ever

Have you noticed changes in your kids over the years?  How do you handle it?
What about little moments…..what’s your deployment “little moment’?

Continue Reading

I took the pledge….have you?


This week is Military Saves Week.  Have you heard of Military Saves?  You may have seen flyers, banners around your installations.  You might have even been somewhere where a Military Saves Conference was being held.  Earlier this week I was sitting at a table for Blue Star Families, a fabulous organization for which I do most of my volunteer work, at a Military Saves event in the DC area.  It was only the first day, but I was bummed to not see as many young people as I had hoped.  Although, it should be noted that frequently this area, especially the location I was at, isn’t the frequent stomping ground for young service members.  I know they are here though.  That is really who I think we should be focused on.  I would say, that just from regular conversation in life, most young people do not thinking about retirement and the future.  Military Saves is about much for than that, its about debt reduction and saving in general (which let’s face it is hard unless you are in a two income household).

Getting Military service members to save and invest in the future has been a difficult task over the years.  First reading about the statistics in this Military.com article, it was a shock to me.  Mr. Air Force happens to be investment/retirement minded, almost entirely thanks to his Dad, who is also very investment/retirement focused.  It takes commitment and resolve to accomplish it.  Many people that I’ve met with have expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of money we Military members get paid.   I guess maybe if you were just looking at numbers, and thinking about CEOs and Dr’s and what not, we don’t.  But, I think if you were to consider what we get, great health care, a housing allowance that usually covers rent, plus some (at least it always has for us), and some of the other things we should be so lucky.  I mean we make enough for me to stay home, raise three children and live quite comfortably.  We go on dates, vacations, buy clothes and are great.  We don’t own a home, but that’s not in our cards right now.  That’s not the season in life we are in.  I could write a whole post about the misconception that owning a home is everything.  Young people falling all over themselves to own homes, instead of “throwing away money on rent”, because they think its what they are supposed to do. 

Happily, articles are reporting that as of last year more service members are participating in the TSP.  As long ago as 2011, we were seeing a record increase in Service member participation in the TSP, about 40%, and with the option for ROTH accounts being available to most Service members, last year, savings is happening all around.  Kate, who writes for Military.com (whose articles I love, btw), released a great article about planning for your future, what she would tell  her younger self about saving.  It’s been in the works for several years to modernize the TSP program, make it more accessible (in the realm of thought for younger service members) for those with no real experience or knowledge about investments and retirements.  Here’s hoping that automatic enrollment for service members (as it has been for Federal civilian employees) comes along soon.  As it is TSP is taken right out of your paycheck before you even see it, which I think is helpful.  I think you would have more service members taking part in thinking about their futures if they didn’t have to think about enrolling themselves.  Its very similar to my thoughts on the National Association for the Air and Army Guards (EANGUS).  If you attend the conferences (which we did for several years), most of those that attend are in their 40s +.  I would wager most younger members of the Guard (both branches) don’t even know what EANGUS does.  They do all that lobbying that makes our lives better.  Why aren’t more young people involved in that?!  The same goes for investing in your future.  The after….Military life won’t be forever.

Have you heard of Military Saves?  Visit their website and take the Pledge!  If you have heard of Military Saves, did you attend an event, have you signed the pledge?  What are you doing to change your future?

Visit Military saves online.

Continue Reading