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Monday, April 30, 2012

Military Brat

April is Month of the Military Child. I grew up a military brat. I was born in to the military life when my dad was stationed at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Tx. I was born when my dad was just starting his career in the Air Force.

Side note: When I was a kid I thought people were saying Which A Tall Falls - and that's how I would spell my birth place. 

I don't think I fully appreciated the life I had, growing up as a military brat, because I didn't know to appreciate it. It was just my life. It was the only thing I knew. I didn't know any different. I didn't know there could be another lifestyle, and what that looked like.

Living on a military base and having a father who wore a military uniform, was normal.

Having a home, but no real roots, was normal.

Having friends come and go, (and being the one coming and going), was normal.

Having grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins who lived states away and you only saw once a year (if that), was normal.

Hearing the National Anthem at the same time every day and having life come to a standstill, was normal. Even vehicles stop in the middle of the road.

Going to the movies and standing at attention for the National Anthem, was normal. (Yes, they really play the National Anthem on the big screen, right before the movie starts.)

Having to show a military I.D. card to get in to the Base Exchange, (or shop at the Commissary), was normal.

Coming to realize that the 1st and 15th of the month meant pay day - and that the Commissary would be a very busy place, was normal.

Turning 10 years old and getting a military dependent I.D. card, was a normal rite of passage (akin to getting your learner's permit and driver's license).

Getting that I.D. card and then immediately wanting to go to the BX to purchase something yourself, to feel so grow-up, was normal.

Spending the summer hanging out at the Youth Center, was normal.

Sometimes having Thanksgiving dinner at the dining facility (or dining hall, or chow hall), was normal.

Having a first 'real' job (besides babysitting) as a cart pusher at the Commissary, was normal.

Being able to walk, or ride a bike, and get to just about anywhere on base, (school, library, pool, Youth Center, bowling alley, movie theater, BX, Commissary), was normal.

Having a safe sense of community, where kids were out until dusk playing kickball, hide-and-seek, and tag with no adults outside keeping an eye on us, was normal.

Having to go through a guarded gate to go back 'home', was normal. (And if you didn't have a sticker on your windshield you better be prepared to show an I.D. or go to the Visitor's Center.)

Learning what RHIP (Rank Has It's Privileges) meant, was normal. (i.e. going over to a classmate's house for the first time and noticing the differences - 'wow your house is really big.' 'wow you have an extra living room?' 'wow you have a pantry?')

Spending 3 of my high school years in Germany, was normal.

Living in a German town and going for a bike ride with your brother across the border, to France, was normal.

Transferring after my junior year and going to a new school in a new state for my senior year was hard, but, was normal.

Forever answering the question "where are you from?" with "all over!", was normal.

I didn't realize it quite so much at the time, or I never really thought about it, but I loved growing up in that lifestyle. I loved being a military brat. I wish the same for my own children, to know that lifestyle. But they weren't born at the beginning of Joe's career so things won't quite be the same for them. And in a way that makes me sad. I feel as if they're missing out on something I experienced. Kayla will be 10 next year ... and I'm already getting excited for her to get her very own I.D. card.

I love that my father spent 20 years in the Air Force and gave me the opportunity to have such an upbringing.

Thank you, Dad, for serving your country. Thank you, for making me a military brat.

A term I'll always be proud to call myself.

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Mom24 said...

I love this Michelle. I guess I've always sort of bought into the idea that "military brats" were somehow to be almost pitied, like their experience was a sacrifice. Thank you for showing me another side of it.

Cindy said...

This was great and fun to read. I agree with Mom24, I always thought people wanted me to feel sorry for them when they said they were a military brat. You made it sound exciting, cherished, desired.

Great memories!

Anonymous said...

Yep, that is the military life!! you described it just right.. it is different, especially if you lived in base housing the majority of the time.. :) love mom

Krista said...

Beautiful Beautiful family! I look forward to following.