When meeting someone new, you’re almost always asked to “tell them about yourself.” I’m guessing most people would respond with an answer that includes what they do for a living, what they do for fun, and probably their marital status. Generally speaking, I have some version of that answer, too. However – I almost always include the words “I’m a military brat” in there. It’s not out of arrogance, or wanting to gain sympathy. It’s legitimately the first thing that I’ve taken my identity from, for my entire life.
Fellow “brats” you definitely understand what I’m saying with that. There is something about growing up attached to our armed forces that just changes you, and influences you in a completely unique way. I’ve been hearing a lot of ‘well, military brats have to grow up so much faster.’ And while I think that’s probably true, I don’t know that I’d choose those words to describe growing up. Mainly because I feel like that has a negative connotation – being “forced out of childhood.” When, really, it just makes you understand the world around you a lot differently than other kids your age.
People always say “wow, I can’t imagine how you do that? Isn’t it hard to give up your parents like that?” If you’ve asked this, I’m sorry for the blank stare you probably received in response. Yes, my parents have missed things. Birthdays, Christmas, Football games and proms. But those aren’t the things we remember. We remember the times we saw dad fly in and out of the flight facilities in Missouri and Indiana. All three of us chatting up Generals like they’re our buddies. Meeting state senators, and Santa Clause having a crew cut one year at the Christmas party. And every military wife, girlfriend, parent, an child will say that deployment ceremonies are miserable. (Although after a few they kinda seem the same) But we will all also say that homecomings are some of the happiest, proudest moments in your life. (Side note: we’re just as proud at the deployment ceremonies.) Those are the things you focus on.
You cant go through this life without feeling pride, almost every time you mention your parents… And then you automatically think about your friends you’ve met who share the same experiences. When you’re a military kid, you’re in a pretty elite group, and every other one you meet is instantly inducted into your group of friends. We watch out for each other, and relate to each other like no one else can. We are most definitely the most patriotic group of American’s that will ever be found. We remind others to put flags out, and defend those who are defending us. It’s tiring but always worth it.
So, to all my fellow ‘brats’ (does anyone else hate that term?!) thank you so much for sharing this amazing, burden and blessing. Especially those of you I’ve had the extreme pleasure of being friends with through out my life. At any given time, you’ve provided support while my parents were gone, and then we switched out. People often forget you need encouragement too. So, here it is; It has been an honor to get to be part of this ‘club’ with you. And for those with parents gone, or getting ready to leave – it really does get better. Not easier, but better. Jason explained to me the phrase “Charlie Mike” today. (Bonus points to those who don’t need a translator) It means “Continue Mission” – they have theirs and we have ours. And it’s pretty self explanatory, I think. Whatever comes up, deployments, training, moves, just adjust and adapt. You have a pretty amazing group of people to help you make it through.