My dad was already in the military before he met my mom. He was a jet engine mechanic, and he was stationed in Maine when he met my mom. They met at a bar called The Barking Spider. I don’t know if they immediately hit it off, but eventually I came into the picture, and my parents got married. They’ve been married for 23 years now, and let me tell you, we’ve been through a lot as a military family.
In November of 1995 in Bath, Maine, my family began. My dad was still stationed in Brunswick when I was born, and not long after, we moved to Oklahoma. My sister Rachel was born there, and about a year later, we moved back to Brunswick. My sister Natalie was born there, and we relocated to Maryland a couple years later. Our last military stop was Virginia, where my dad retired from after serving 20 years in the Navy as a jet engine mechanic. I wish I could say the moving stopped there, but we moved back to Maryland after that, bought a house in Maryland, then moved to Connecticut, then moved into a new house in Connecticut. My family is still there, and I’m currently in Orlando, Florida for an internship.
Military life wasn’t easy for my sisters and I growing up. Moving every couple of years put a real damper on our social lives, and it was tough being the new kid every couple years, especially entering communities where the people living there and going to school had been together for years. Making friends was probably the hardest part, because my sisters and I had to find the clique we fit in with, and we had to hope they were willing to accept new members at the time. Once we made friends, keeping them became difficult, especially at a young age when we didn’t necessarily have social media to keep in contact with them. Every time we moved, I had to prepare to do it all over again.
Now, I started this off by saying I loved every second of being a military brat, and then proceeded to complain about the hardest parts. It wasn’t all bad, though. My sisters and I learned some very valuable life lessons while living the military lifestyle.
We learned how to be flexible. I lost count of the amount of times my family was prepared to move, and we ended up staying put a little longer. There was also a couple times we planned on moving one place and ended up going somewhere entirely different. The flexibility my sisters and I had to show at such a young was a tough thing to learn, but once we figured it out, we became masters at it.
We learned how to be open minded. In the military community, we met people from all different backgrounds and cultures. We were always being put into new situations, and we were always meeting new people. We learned at such a young age that everyone is the same, and learning about different cultures is fun! One of my earliest memories of my childhood involves having one of my parent’s friends teach me origami. I was so proud of the origami I was able to master, and it had a big impact on me if I still remember it over 15 years later.
The biggest lesson of all that the military taught my sisters and I was how to love unconditionally. Because we lost friends so often, taking advantage of every second with them that we did have would sometimes make us seem a little clingy. It was simply because the military taught us that people can be gone in an instant, so loving them fully while you have the time with them is worth it. Our dad would go away on deployments sometimes, and sometimes he would be in a boat for months at a time. You always see the news stories about military ships sinking, or planes crashing, or any of the horror stories, and that was scary. It was scary to watch your dad get on a plane and maybe not come home, but it taught my sisters and I to cherish our moments with him.
The military life style, as trying as it was growing up, definitely turned my sisters and I into more understanding people. We became easier to get along with, very go with the flow, and we became more mature than most people our age. We were taught to be strong and mature and respectful at such a young age, nothing can take that out of our personalities. We grew up learning to be thankful for what we had, and cherishing the time we spent and who we spent it with rather than material goods.
To this day, my dad is one of my biggest role models. He taught me a strong work ethic, and he taught me to always push myself a little bit further and to never settle for the version of myself I was yesterday. I currently plan on joining the army once I finish undergrad, that’s how much of an impact my dad and the military had on me growing up. I will never forget my life growing up as a military brat, and I was always treasure the lessons it taught me.