When my family and I were in the military, I couldn’t wait to get out and go back home to our small town. I resented the military for so many things; my dad missing birthdays and Christmases, moving every three years, making me make new friends every 1-2 years, not allowing me to know my family back home, etc..
What I didn’t know at the time, was how much I would miss the military. With its uniforms, culture, rules, pride for country.. I miss going to the gym at five in the morning with my father. Or exploring the Post with my mom right after moving there. And playing hide and seek with my brother in every new house? Perfect way to get to know every inch of a new house!
Though I would never want to go back to that life again. Here are five things I learned while in the military that still apply today..
1. Family is always there for you.
We had family back home in the north, yes. And we made ‘family’ along the way, yes. But that’s not the family I’m talking about. Through all the deployments, moves, heartaches, and exploring, my mom, dad, and brother were always there. Friends would come and go, and family back home would grow distant with visits only once a year (can you blame them?)! But no matter where we went, or what we did, my parents and brother were always right there (sometimes only through video chat when dad was away), always a team, always looking out for one another. When you spend 12 years as just the four of you, you tend to grow super close! I still video chat with my mom every day, and will continue to do so until my dad retires in a few years, and then I shall SEE her everyday!
2. Nothing is set in stone.
In the military, nothing was certain. My dad could be shipped out any time, surprise house inspections could happen at any time, anything could happen at any time. Vacations weren’t set in stone just because my dad got an okay from the military to go. We didn’t know if we would be able to go on vacation until we were already there. We never knew when something random might happen to put a dent in our plans. We were always prepared for our plans to be squashed down, and hardly surprised when they did. Nothing is ever in stone, you are never guaranteed tomorrow.
3. Respect the flag, the military, and our country.
And oh gosh did we! You learn fast to respect all three. National anthem played at 5 p.m. almost every evening, and no matter what you were doing or where you were, you stopped (if you were driving, you pulled over and got out), faced a flag, placed your hand over your heart, and no one spoke! None of this kneeling crap, or walking on the flag stuff. It’s an amazing thing to watch a playground full of roudy, rambunctious, screaming children, stop in the middle of an intense game of tag, to stand still with their hands over their hearts facing a flag while the national anthem played over loud speakers. You respected anyone in a uniform, and their families, and called everyone ma’am and sir. You didn’t like the president? You kept your mouth shut in public, because he was your/your parents commander and chief. Forth of July was the biggest holiday, and you knew the true meaning behind it. I may not have always liked the military, but I sure as heck respected everything about it!
4. How to make friends.
Boy was this a BIG lesson the military thought me. Being homeschooled, I couldn’t just go to school and make friends (though I did have homeschool groups and homeschooled friends). I had to actually go out and make friends! Normally it took about a year at our new Base to make friends, and the friends I did make were already there for about a year or two. By the time I would get close enough to people to call them ‘best friends’, they moved and I would have to make new ones. By this time, I would be at the Base for two, almost three years, so the friends I was making were new ones who just moved there (sometimes, right into my old friends houses!). By time I was close to these friends, it would be my turn to move and the process starts all over.. I’ve had many different friends, of all ages, backgrounds, religions, and genders. Some I still talk to, but most I don’t. Thanks to the Military, I know how to make friends anywhere, and I’m great at talking to strangers. And the best part? I’ve got friends all over the world!
5. How to pack.
Weather it’s packing a suitcase for vacation, or packing up everything you own into boxes, I know every tip and trick there is.. After moving ten times, and calling 13 places, 6 states, and two countries my home, you learn a thing or two about how to pack, well, anything! Military packers may have moved our stuff from one house to the next (half the time), we did all our own packing before the movers so much as stepped foot into our house. When I moved back home, all my things had to go with my parents to their next Base. So I managed to pack my whole life for the next few years into one big and one small suitcase. It’s funny how much you don’t need when you have to put priorities like clothes and necessities first. And getting my big winter coat in the big suitcase? Took up half the room! But I sure am grateful for it everyday up here in the winter!
So there you have it, five things I learned from the military that I will never forget and tend to use everyday. Once a military brat, always a military brat. (*Military Brat: A kid who grew up with one or two parents in the military.) Any other military family’s out there that agree or have anything to add? Comment below! And as always, have a great day!
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I love this. Frankly it was culture shock when my husband enlisted in the USMC, but even worse culture shock when he became a civilian again. Mostly because many civilians lack the capacity to make and invest in friendships to the same extent military folks are forced to as a way of life. I truly miss the friends we made while he was in.
It’s definitely a culture shock being a civilian again, especially when my family are still in (One more year ’till retirement!). I miss many of my military friends and I am definitely closer to them then with my friends here. You’re right about civilian friends, I’ve got many of military friends I still talk to, but most of my civilian friends have moved on and made new friends. It’s just not the same, but I’m hoping that changes now that I’m in one place for good! 🙂
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And I also miss hitting the gym before dawn. Who would’ve thought that!?
I still get up before the sun. I miss going to the gym with my dad! People think I’m crazy for early workouts, but it makes you feel ready to take on the day!
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