Military Families: Navigating Change

Written by Deb, guest blogger

Fourtuitous is about navigating, surviving, coping with change. No one has more experience making the best of transitions than military families. We applaud and thank everyone who serves our country, and we appreciate the families who support, celebrate and sacrifice for our military men and women. Thank you for your dedication.  

Change.  Sometimes it’s the only constant in my life.  I’m an Air Force wife and my life is changing.  Again.  I have lived in my current location for less than two years and it’s time to go.  Navigating change?  That’s my job.  Just as every Air Force pilot needs a navigator, my family counts on me to help them find their way.  But I didn’t get months of specialized training; I learned on the job.  And here are my Navigator Roles.

Navigator Role 1:  Paperwork Queen

paperwork

I like order.  I like files.  So when it’s time for a move, I organize all of our paperwork into beautiful files sorted by family member.  There are birth certificates and passports and immunization forms and school records.  And then I carry them in my luggage.  For months.  As we live out of suitcases.  It’s how I take some order into our “we don’t know where we’re staying tomorrow” lives.  It’s how I ensure that we get temporary housing for all of us (including a dog) and medical care at our new base.  It’s how I can guarantee I have all the information required to enroll my children in their next school.  And it’s why I look like a Bag Lady throughout the entire moving process.  People see me coming and think “Mobile Hoarders”.  Do you think I could sell that to the networks?

Navigator Role 2:  Cheerleader*

No matter where we’re going, I am “excited” about it.  I am looking forward to all the wonderful things to see in [insert new destination here].  I order information from the Tourist Bureau and display it all around the house.  I become an expert on neighborhoods I’ve never seen and schools I had never heard of weeks earlier.  I look for football teams and stables and pools and golf courses and cheerleading squads and churches and youth groups and grocery stores and malls.  I brush up on fashion in our new location since moving from a Pacific island to the Midwest, for example, might require the purchase of long pants and shoes that cover your entire foot.  What do people wear in winter these days?  [*Just for the record, I was not a cheerleader.  Ever.  In fact, I may have, at one point in my life, mocked cheerleaders.  Although this may also be a hateful rumor.  But, my past aside, I have developed an ability to “cheer” despite the fact that on the inside I am having a full-out three-year-old fall-on-the-floor-in-Walmart temper tantrum.  I think the screams of “I won’t go” are only inside my head….]

Navigator Role 3:  Household Goods Organizer

cds

Since our household goods must be separated into several groups before each move, I develop a labeling system that allows our multiple groups of packers (who may arrive all on the same day) to know which things (a) stay in the house, (b) get shipped early, (c) go into storage, (d) get shipped normally (on the Slow Boat to China), and (e) go with us in our suitcases.  Sticky notes are my labels of choice.  There’s nothing a big burly mover loves more than a bright pink sticky note on the furniture he’s loading.  I tend to be a little juvenile in my color choices.  Sorry, German or Hawaiian Moving Men.  The colors are my silent protest.

Navigator Role 4:  House Cleaning Magician

cleaners

If there’s anything I really and truly hate about moving, it is cleaning everything before it is packed only to have it arrive looking as if it was (a) flown over a volcano spewing ash or (b) dropped into a dirty puddle.  And then there’s cleaning the house you are leaving, only to have to (usually) clean the house you’re moving into.  I don’t wanna clean.  My husband always offers to have professional cleaners handle this aspect of the move because I have become a raging crazy person by the time all our belongings are packed and gone and he doesn’t want me to damage the house as I scrub it with all my pent-up frustration.  But my pride (yes, my pride) usually makes these words come out of my mouth: “No, I’ll do it.  I really don’t want to spend a lot of money on cleaning.  I’ll just do it myself.”  Someone rescue me from my own stupidity!

Navigator Role 5:  Proud Air Force wife and mom to three Military Brats

Kenzie Photography family 081412-001

Despite the hassles and frustrations and adjustments and to-do lists, I am proud that my husband serves and proud that our family supports him.  I love the excitement of a new place to discover and new people to meet.  I really can’t imagine another life.  Just don’t ask me how much I love it during the next 10 weeks!

kissDebGreg

3 comments for “Military Families: Navigating Change

  1. Kathleen Gallo
    June 24, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I LOVE it! Your attitude is what makes your military life work! I, too, am proud that he serves – BUT I know all this would not be possible without his loving, capable, never finished-working wife and mother to their children who is ALSO serving. You are the glue that keeps the family fires burning and makes each transition work. I see your love, strength, and wisdom and know it comes from the Lord, and I thank Him for His gifts to you! Love you!!

  2. Catherine Pasierb
    June 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Deb, this is amazing! Thank you for sharing this honest, inspiring post!

  3. June 25, 2013 at 7:24 am

    I would clean 5 times over to NOT have to deal with all that paperwork…thank you (as in your entire family) for your service!

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