I wrote this essay back in Kansas right before we moved to Kentucky and then picked it back up after living in Kentucky for 8 months.
Moving season is upon us nomads (aka military) once again. I see it everywhere I turn, Facebook posts from friends, moving vans parked along the sidewalks, discussions at the bus stop on where the next duty assignment is. Some of these folks are going to really cool places like Germany, or Italy, and then there are others like myself going to places like Kentucky.
Military life is nomadic. Home is home for only a short while. That’s why as a military wife, one must move fast to make friends, make a home, and get involved. Because in the blink of an eye it’s time to pack up and start the process all over again.
So many non military folks tell me all the time, “I could never move all the time like you do.” I get where they are coming from. I stayed in the same area for 24 years before becoming a nomad. I understand the comfort and joys of living near family and friends. I long for that at times. But had I never joined this nomadic lifestyle, I would have missed out on so many adventures and relationships along the way. Some of those adventures and relationships I could have done without. But at the end of the day, they were growing experiences.
It’s especially hard moving when you aren’t ready to go. My heart still breaks almost every day for having left Utah because I left my family behind, and Alaska because I left my heart behind. I know nothing will ever replace either place.
Moving to Kentucky or Kansas were not on my top choices of places to live, in fact, I hate to admit this but I didn’t know where either one was on the map. The reason is because I never cared to know where they were. I never planned on visiting let alone living in either place. I guess I’m learning some geography along the way. Kansas was a pleasant surprise for me. Although the landscape is nothing like what Alaska has to offer, it had been a positive experience. I had time to relax, reflect, and be a better mom, and wife. Also I met some great friends.
I think the best part of moving every 1-3 years is I get a chance to reinvent myself. If I don’t like the direction I’m heading, no problem, I can be a new me all over again. In Alaska, I was career oriented, I was a clinical manager and guess what? I was so stressed I couldn’t ever sleep and I missed out on being available to my children. So when we moved I decided I was done with climbing the career ladder and went to work part time. And it was been the best of both worlds.
People outside of the nomadic lifestyle often say they couldn’t constantly uproot their kids from friends. I totally understand that aspect, especially as we enter the teen years. I worry constantly how my almost 13 year old will adjust to the next move. But, one thing is normal for him, and that is moving. I truly believe military kids are extremely resilient. Roots aren’t holding them back from exploring places and life. Nick used to tell me that he would encourage Jake to go to college wherever he wanted. At first I couldn’t imagine living apart from my children. But now, as much as I would hate them to be apart, I understand that in order to really understand our world, you must try different things, live in different places, explore the big wide world. I’ve made a decision that when the time comes, I will cut the apron strings so they can experience life to the fullest.
The hardest part about moving all the time is making the most amazing friends and leaving them. That part hurts like hell. It’s leaving a piece of your heart in each place. And it really doesn’t get easier.
Some places are great, and some are not so great. We currently live in Kentucky and this has been the hardest adjustment for all of us. I need to remind myself this is temporary. And most importantly I need to find a way to embrace it. As a family, we need to make the best of it because that’s what military families do.