The painful goodbye that all military children go though. 5 Ways to stay connected and staying strong for another day.
When you’re a kid an hour-long drive to visit your grandparents seems like forever. Visiting family in a different state over a long weekend, well that’s just a lifetime.
A long boring drive staring out the car window and imagining what obstacles you’d jump over if you were riding your bike along side the car.
Or maybe you read six books because motion sickness didn’t bother you. Either way the world was big and the drive was endless.
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BUILDING A MILITARY FAMILY
No matter where you go, you try to build a military family. It can be hard at first but the longer you’re at a station things start to fall into place.
We moved to Oahu when our daughter was just six months old. Living there for four years it was the only world she knew. After a couple of years we finally made our own military family. The kids would ride their bikes around the cul-de-sac they’d call middle tree,
and play after dinner at the park until taps came over the speakers.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, we did it all together. We were there through deployments, pregnancies, night shift and family emergencies.
On the fourth of July we would watch the fireworks over Pearl Harbor as the star spangle banner played in the background.
This was the world our children lived in. This was the life, the family, they knew. But in the military you’re on borrowed time. And eventually you have to say goodbye.
One by one families start to move away. One by one there are less kids riding their bikes and less kids to play with at the park.
WHEN THEY LEARN HOW BIG THE WORLD IS
It was finally our turn to say goodbye. To pick up and leave this island we’d become so fond of. We spent the afternoon with our friends, ordering pizza while the kids played in the yard. Our oldest and Ava had become so close over the years. Two little trouble makers.
Two four-year-old teenagers who would stay up late during sleepovers and pig out on pancakes the next morning.
Our flight took off at 7:00pm and we watched the lights of Honolulu fade into the darkness. Never thinking this day would actually come.
We slept as much as we could through the turbulence until our layover in LA. This time Carlee asked for a window seat on the flight to Texas.
She didn’t say much while looking out the window to the big vast of land below. After settling her little sister down I leaned over and asked what she was thinking. Through her small voice, still looking out the window, she whispered
“I’m never going to see Ava again.” Silent tears running down her cheeks as my four year old realized just how big the world was.
GOODBYE IS NOT FOREVER
Most of us go through at least one difficult goodbye as we leave home and set off on a new journey. Less do that multiple times. Still it’s not easy saying goodbye and knowing it could be years before you see them again.
But that goodbye brings more hellos. More awkward hellos while you navigate this new place. While you try to figure out where you fit in. A hello at the park. A hello at the grocery store.
You’re on your way to making new family, new memories.
Another chapter that may not include the ocean, but a bonfire overlooking a pond, as you set off fireworks on the fourth of July.
Eventually we’ll have to say goodbye. And it’ll be painful, but it’ll be worth it. Because we know goodbye is not forever and hello brings another exciting chapter.
Just because it was a young friendship, doesn’t make it any less real. In a word full of technology it’s easy to stay connected, but that also means it’s easy to let it slip.
We should encourage young friendship and maybe take a chapter out of their book and work harder to keep connected through different time zones and stages of life.
5 WAYS FOR KIDS TO STAY CONNECTED
- Become pen pals– Kids love mail! Even if they are young they can draw pictures, shapes or trace a favorite toy or leaf from their new home.
- Share a favorite book- As they get older it might be fun to share a favorite book! It’s a way of doing something together, even while being hundreds of miles apart. Either send it after you finish or buy an extra copy to read along.
- Send a favorite cookie recipe- If mom’s willing to share her secret recipe.
- Play video games together- If you both have a Nintendo Switch they can play Mario cart, Animal Crossing ect. It’s a fun way to stay connected AND play together.
- Just send the photo- Even though my kids are too young to have their own phone, if something reminds them of a friend, it takes just a few seconds to send it to their mom to say a quick hello.
And if you were wondering…. they saw each other a year later. Not a day had gone by, only now they were two teenage 5 year olds pigging out on pancakes the next morning.
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