Joanne, What did you like/dislike about growing up in a military family? My husband is in the Navy and we move often. My kids do ok with the changes, but I've always wanted to know a grown up perspective. Thanks!
I grew up as an Air Force brat. Which, by the way, isn't really a very nice expression. So, let's try that again: I grew up as an Air Force kid. My dad was in the Air Force and stationed in California when I was born. My parents were in Los Angeles for 10 years--their longest assignment. Since I was born four years into it, I lived there for six years--the longest I lived anywhere until after I graduated from college.
At six, we moved to Colorado Springs, where my dad was promoted to captain and taught at the Air Force Academy. That's the only time I remember getting to go to work with my dad. He had an office that we could visit with a huge drafting table, rulers, and good markers. I seem to remember that he also had a chalkboard and this really cool metal thing that held the chalk so you could draw without getting dusty fingers.
I went to half of first grade at the public school down the street from our house, and then went to second, third, and fourth grade at a Christian school.
Then we moved to Montgomery, Alabama, for fifth grade while dad went to War College. I seem to remember rolling into town just days before school began, and then leaving the minute school was over the next summer.
So at age 11, we moved to Harrogate, which is in North Yorkshire, England. I went to British school for sixth, seventh, and eighth grades (or first, second, and third form--think Harry Potter!).
The summer between eighth and ninth grade, we moved back to the States--and back to Colorado Springs. We moved into our same house (which we'd rented to other military couples for the four years we were gone), which seemed much smaller now that I was bigger. I went back to that same Christian school for ninth and tenth grades, which also seemed much smaller now that I was bigger.
By that time, my dad retired from the Air Force.
My junior year in high school, I transferred to public school for academic reasons and graduated from Air Academy High School.
So growing up Air Force meant lots of moves, lots of schools, lots of first days of school when I didn't know anyone. It was hard--but it was the only thing I knew and I survived. And as an adult, I think I adapt pretty easily to new situations and make friends quickly because I learned how to do that as a child. While I've always felt a little envy for those people I know who've been friends through kindergarten and the rest of life, that just wasn't my life.
Other positives? As an Air Force family who moved a lot, I've travelled a lot. Especially living in Europe means that I've travelled to all kinds of places: Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, France, Liechtenstein, Belgium, (West) Germany, Scotland, Wales, Italy... So even though I don't love to travel these days, I'm comfortable finding my way around new places.
One other huge positive is that I have a close family. Because we moved a lot, we never really lived near any extended family. While we did visit from time to time, family to me always meant my family of four--Dad, Mom, Kristen, and me. We developed our own traditions, our own routines. And we had to get along, because we were all we had! (Of course, we had community wherever we lived, but there was very much a sense of us sticking together.)
And speaking of community, the other thing I learned as a military kid was to make friends quickly as I said, but also to take advantage of the time we had in a place. Even though we lived in Alabama for only 10 months--and we knew the whole time we'd only be there 10 months and probably would never come back--I had a wonderful best friend there (hi Janet!). We were involved at church, involved at school. When I think back, we really put down roots in each place we lived--even if only for a short time.
Yes, it meant that leaving was hard, but our lives were so much richer because we did.
All in all, growing up military was great. At the same time, I'm excited to think that we might live here in Denver for a long, long time and that the girls may go to one school for most of their lives. Not because it's better than how my life was, but it's different. And there are advantages to both. I guess what I'm trying to say is that every living situation, every growing up experience has its pros and cons. We live the lives we've been given and make the best of it.