"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

To Give What I Had

I grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans. I love that city. I loved my neighborhood. To me there was never a question as to whether or not I would raise my children there - whenever I had them. I always planned to leave for a time - four or five years - and then come home, marry a New Orleans man, and dress my children in seersucker in the summer and have picnics in city park. It's not exactly a vision I clung to - it was just always the way it was going to be. There wasn't another thought. Families live within blocks of each other. Cousins aren't always really cousins - aunts aren't always aunts. People are born there and they stay - not because they have to, but because they could never, ever bear to leave.

I have two very, very close friends that my boys call "Aunt". We have known each other since we were five-years-old. We started Kindergarten together. We chose the same high school. We lived with each other through college. We cried over boys together. We figured out make-up together (well, I'm still figuring it out). We celebrated birthdays - many, many birthdays. We cried over break-ups. We watched each other make mistakes and helped to pick each other up from them. We celebrated each other's successes. They stood beside me at my wedding.

All three of us love that city. All three of us always thought our children would grow up together. All three of us just assumed we would have the same things.

Logan will meet his preschool teacher tomorrow - at a new school. Last year at this time he was walking up the steps to my preschool. Last year at this time I took a picture of him standing on grass that I stood on and smiled while wearing my little backpack. Last year I got a glimpse of "my plan". 

I'm not upset that he is going to a different place than the one I know. I am not upset that the way I planned it isn't the same as how He planned it. I am hurting because I know that my sons will never have the same experience I had. My boys will never have the friends that they know and see everyday for nearly twenty years. My heart is breaking because Logan is three and this is his second school. My heart is breaking because I wonder who will stand beside him at his wedding. I wonder who will know him the way those two women know me. My heart is breaking because he won't have these same two people that I have. 

I've thought about it before and have always swept that to the back of my mind - because I can't change it. Because in no way - in the most perfect of military circumstances - can I give that to my children. 

I know that children are resilient. I know that military children don't know it any other way - that they are all going through the same thing. That - like so many things - it will be "normal" as far as they know. But I want to give that stability to my boys - the same grammar school, same high school. Two schools. Period. I want them to have the same friends that they know through it all. I want to give them what I had. And I can't. 

I feel like I took that from them. I feel guilty that they won't know that.

Today is one of those days - one of those days when we have to once again acknowledge that this life is really, really hard. That there are parts that we really, really want to change and can't. 

Tomorrow I will enjoy seeing him meet his classmates. Tomorrow I will be so very thankful that Logan and Eli have such a special friendship that will be a constant in this changing life. Tomorrow I will find the strength. But today I want to give them the beauty of what I had and still have. Many, many tomorrows from now I will find the beauty that must come from the friendships he will make along the way - with other kids whose mommies and daddies are also part of something bigger. I know I will find it - because He wouldn't bring me to a place that didn't have it. 

It's another part I am learning. Another part that we will all learn through. Another part that will show us what we are made of. 

We'll find the beauty along the way.


  1. I moved 6 times growing up, though not because we were military. My dad's job took us all over. Every 3-4 years I was the new kid. I loved moving, seeing new places, and meeting new people. The expereinces have made me stronger and I still am close with many of my old friends. At my wedding, friends from 3 of the places I lived stood beside me - it was awesome and incredible to see so many parts of my life brought together to celebrate my special day. Kids are strong, home is where the family is, but I completely understand the desire for close friendships. I have to agree though, there is something about New Orleans that draws a person - it was definitely my favorite place to have lived!
    I hope your little man enjoys his first day!

  2. Who will stand beside him at his wedding? Who will help him pick up after mistakes, stand by him and make memories for 20 years? His siblings.

    As a military brat, I moved from post to post, state to state, country to country. Time after time, I lost contact with friends as the distance grew. But, on my wedding day, my sister--my best friend--stood by my side at the altar. My siblings stood in the pew behind me, wiping tears of joy.

    We lost friends, we didn't have the lifelong connection to one house, one town. But, we had each other. And, God, have I been thankful for that, especially lately. We Smith siblings have an indescribable closeness not shared by most. And people have frequently commented on it.

    So, don't worry. In your beautiful family, you will have a closeness with your children and amongst your children that many will find enviable. Yes, locations will change, friendships may fade, but your children will always have each other. :)

  3. Let me thank you both from the bottom of my heart for your comments. You both brought me to tears.

    I needed perspectives like yours. I appreciate your comments SO SO very much. Thank you.

  4. Years ago, when my brother and his new wife moved into their first home together in South Carolina, they moved next to a military family. "Don't get used to us," the mother who was a soldier herself told them. She then went on to tell us how her barely teenage daughter had been to something like 7 schools so far and they tend to move every two years. "How sad" I thought. But the young girl stood there and told us, in full confidence, that she would not have it any other way. She loved seeing new parts of the country and making new friends. Kids are strong. They can take whatever is thrown at them and they will love the memories they make because they are their own and that is all they know.
    My soldier and I are from the same hometown and we would love to settle down and have our children have the same experiences we had, but we know that most likely won't happen. We can only hope to give our children a little glimpse of how we had it.
    Your boys will do great. Logan is going to have a wonderful day at school and will make TONS of friends and I'm sure he will be able to keep certain friends throughout his life. That's the great thing about technology these days! It makes it so much easier to keep track of everyone.
    I hope things go well tomorrow!

  5. I think that most people grew up without a similar life experience to yours. I am an Army brat, I love this life, would not have it any otherway, but I also know not everyone is like me. It does not bother knowing my children will not have those memories you do, but what I find amazing is my 4 yr old can tell me "mommy, that house looks like our old house in Germany" or "Mommy, I loved when we went to the beach like when we lived in Hawaii." My children have seen and done things that 70 yr old folks have not and they are only 2 and 4. So while they may not have the memories you do, they will have better memories that are suited to them and their lives. Have faith momma, it will be ok. :-D

  6. Well said, Buppyluck. I wouldn't trade the experiences I garnered as a military brat for anything. How many kids can say they did children's modeling in South Korea, or spend most of their high school education touring Italy? Not too many. Pride of the Service runs doubly deep for me, since both my father and my husband served/serve.

  7. Cate, thank you. I think that I was very lucky to have what i had. And because it was/is so special I want them to have it too.

    BuppyLuck: WOW. Wow. Thank you. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to hear from former military children that now have their own. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! What a wonderful perspective!


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