What's next? Where will we live? How will we afford it? Will I be able to find work? What about the kids? I wondered if I was having a mid-life crisis, but it turns out that 40% of military families feel the same way I do.
By now, kids are back into the swing of school, reestablishing seats in the cafeteria, slipping prohibited gum paraphernalia into their pockets, and whispering in the hallways about the latest crushes. But not every kid is skipping off the bus each day.
I'm worried about these statistics. As a 16-year-old daughter of an American military member, I have spent my entire life saying goodbye to my father, as he has packed up and shipped off to perilous warfronts around the globe.
On paper, I had a partner in parenting. In practice, however, I was parenting alone, and it wasn't easy. Indeed, that year gave me greater appreciation for what real single parents must go through every day.
I pinned all my dissatisfaction on a place, only to discover that a world away the feeling remained because it was within, not around me. Letting go of the fantasy life I had promised myself was a bitter pill to swallow, but ultimately freed me from living in a state of suspended animation.
It was a dangerous idea, inviting people to my house weekly for dinner while raising three young boys. But when my husband left for a year-long deployment in November 2011, I was one dinner shy of total desperation.
Military members and families are not cultural aberrants looking for a cold niche in which to hide. We are not cold timid souls whose lack of emotion leads us to a military life scrubbed of feeling. The experiences of our lives, much like yours, are inextricably tied to our emotions.
If we're not careful, the civilian and military will become the Washington equivalent of Siamese twins, co-joined at the head and, however bitter their internecine arguments, sharing the same underlying militarized thought processes.
Military children don't want our pity, and they aren't an alien species. They're just children with some added stress in their lives. We should care equally about all children, but we owe something special to these.