Being in the military can be compared to being a part of a secret society. Those not in the military may never understand how things really are in the day-to-day family military life. This is not done to exclude those we care about, but it takes an extra dosing of compassion and understanding to accept the military life we live.
Early on in my marriage, we lived in a very isolated and frigid location that the Coast Guard thought would be a fab spot to send two Miami natives. We had both our sons in Michigan and because of the isolated location, this meant that familial visits and support were very limited. Flights in and out were difficult and expensive. My husband and I had to learn how to depend and lean on each other to get through the separations, the holidays, the colic and the depressive winters. More importantly, I needed to find a core support group of friends so that I could make it through the times (and there were many) when my husband was away. I look back and reflect on that time and acknowledge there was no way I would have made it without my group of ladies.
We learned early on to choose joy. We didn't have enough money for diapers, but we chose joy. I dealt with isolation and seasonal depression, but pushed through and chose joy. My husband was faced with a military career change that meant leaving a dream he held for many years, but he chose joy.
Our holidays began to turn from survival, to something special. We began to relish the little things and create special moments. Surviving turned into living.
These days we work to create special moments with our children. We keep things peaceful and joyful. We work hard to create an environment that moves with us to each duty station and that creates stability for our sons whether my husband is with us or away with work. I believe this is what helps our children keep their grounding and normalcy.
I believe there are some who do not understand the importance of this in our lives. When we decline an invitation for dinner or choose to just spend time with our nuclear family, this is because it is what we NEED to survive, what we NEED to choose joy. If there is negativity, anger, hostility or just plain nastiness, we will make a choice to not spend time with you. This especially rings true on holidays because our joy is too important.
Military life has its challenges, but I wouldn't change it for anything. I think Maya Angelou says it best, "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
We Choose Joy
Capturing the Moment and Choosing Joy,