It’s Military Monday, during the month of April we are celebrating the Month of the Military Child. Today, my friend and fellow Military Spouse, Sarah is here sharing with us.
We were at a doctor’s appointment the other day- myself and all three babies crammed into the tiniest of rooms while the nurse took the vitals. And then, of course, the nurse called for assistance from another nurse and the doctor came in as well to see if she could help because my five-year-old was losing her marbles. I kid you not, there were seven of us at once in the tiny examination room all bringing our A-game to convince Brennan to get her blood pressure checked: “It’s just a big hug on your arm, sweetie.”
She lost her ever-lovin’ mind despite our best reassurances and backed herself into a literal corner. Inside I’m dying, embarrassed and frustrated and annoyed and angry, wanting to tell her that she is being a coward, that she should just suck it up and do it already. Of course, I don’t say that because, of course, I can’t and shouldn’t. But I think it and I worry about her- oh my sweet baby, you need to toughen up if we’re going to actually do this military thing; there is so much hard ahead of you, kiddo.
Outwardly I remain the calmest version of my mama-self though, I hold her cheeks in my hands and tell her to make her breaths match mine and I look in her eyes and remind her that she is brave and that she can do this and that I am so proud of her and that I love her.
Her name means brave. Sometimes she is and sometimes she isn’t.
The day did not end in victory. We slink out of that doctor’s office still heaving from the adrenaline rush- hers from fear, mine from frustration.
To rally our hearts and help us forget that terrible experience, we go to our park to play, and she races up the climbing wall like it’s no big deal, something which used to terrify her. I couldn’t stop staring at her at the top of those plastic rocks, so, so very proud.
See, our kids are still just learning who they are, they don’t really know yet. It’s our job to remind them, to call them forward into who they are, never tell them who they are not.
Sometimes she’s scared, sometimes she’s courageous, sometimes she’s independent, sometimes she wants to hold my hand. In all of it, I am right there to remind her of who she really is: Loved.
I have to remind myself how hard it is to be a kid, to learn who you are, how to be brave.
Raising kids in the military life is a daunting task- one I swore I would never do, even. Is it too much to ask of our kids, I worried. Are we signing them up for too hard of a life?
There’s no way around it, really: The military life is hard, being a military kid is hard. We ask them to move and make new friends and say goodbye to Daddy more than we’d all like and start a new school and start all over once again.
Within it all, sometimes I have moments like Brennan- the hard parts seem more than I can bear and I back myself into a corner with fear or worries or loneliness and every ounce of me wants to shield my babies from going through any hard situations too.
But then we are gifted with the moments of witnessing them figuring it all out- they make a new friend, they adjust to the new school, they show their playful side again, they scale a climbing wall- and there’s no denying the role the military plays in the development of our babies. We know this experience is turning them into the best, most true version of themselves and it’s actually doing the same for us and that somehow makes it all worth it.
It forces you to deal with the hard of life and how you carry stress and how you love your people. Our kids are so resilient, so courageous, so tenderly fierce and my girl showed me that day in the doctor’s office that hard moments don’t have to define me. I don’t have to be fear or overwhelm or anxious, I can be brave too, joyful too, hopeful always.
I watch my girl growing into herself, doing things I never thought she’d do, courageously scaling rocks and making new friends and tenderly caring for others and I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sarah Sandifer is a mama to three darling and rambunctious girls and is married to her college sweetheart who now serves as an Army Chaplain. She writes about seeking the way of grace within motherhood and marriage and how it all helps us to become more deeply who we are. You can find her at SarahSandifer.com or on Instagram as @SarahSandifer