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A One-Sided Conversation with My 3 Military Kids

(Photo: Stock photo.)

First, are your rooms clean?

Because I told you two hours ago that if your rooms weren't clean when I went to check, you wouldn't get to play the iPad all weekend long. And I mean really clean. Beds made, dirty clothes picked up. There better not be any food in there! No, I'm not going to tell you when I'm coming to check. It could be any minute. You just don't know.

Okay. You're back. Listen, you guys are military kids. You know what that means, right? Yes, right, it does mean that we have to stop during soccer practice and stand with our hands over our hearts. That's true.

Yes. It does mean that sometimes it's just the four of us, me and you kids, while Daddy is gone. Okay, a lot. A lot of the times it's just us. That's true. What else?

Yes, it does mean that our cousins live far away and we only get to see Mimi and Grandaddy once a year. You know they really miss you, don't you? So much. They miss you so much. I know, you're right, it's not fair.

That's right. It means that you haven't seen Daniel in years. Yes, I know you were best friends. No, I don't know if we'll ever live in the same city as him again. Yes, I bet Skylor is even prettier now. She was a beautiful girl then. Yes, maybe she will like you one day. No, I don't know if you'll get to go to the same high school as her. No, I don't know what high school you're going to go to. I would tell you if I knew. No, I don't know what sports they're going to have there -- how would I know that? I don't even know where ‘there' is?

Yes, Santa Claus will be able to find us. Always. Every year. Wherever ‘there' is.

Because he's magic like that.

Yes, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, too. They all have the same magic.

No, it won't be the same school your cousins go to. Because I know. That much I do know.

Because there's no Army where they live, that's how I know.

No, they don't have to move like us. No, we can't tell the Army ‘no.' No, we can't ask the Army to change its mind.

No, their dad doesn't have to go away like yours. You're right, it's not fair -- but we chose this. Okay, okay, you're right. You didn't choose this -- your dad and I did.

Because the world desperately needs guys like your dad, guys who are willing and able to fight the bad guys so everyone can be safe. You know that. Your dad has that ability. No, your cousin's dad doesn't know how to do that. He knows how to do other stuff, important stuff that other people need, that's why he's not in the Army.

I know. You're right. It's not fair.

The world needs kids like you, too. And moms like me. If we weren't willing to let Daddy go away, if we weren't willing to move around, Daddy wouldn't be able to do his job, and that means the world would be a little less safe.

I don't know why bad guys are bad, they just are.

I don't know if Santa knows how to find them. They're probably on the naughty list, anyway. I doubt they get anything for Christmas.

Yes, maybe they get coal.

No, I don't think they get Easter baskets. They just don't, that's why.

I don't know about the Tooth Fairy. I guess maybe the Tooth Fairy would still visit them. I don't think the Tooth Fairy operates on merit.

Listen, guys. Stop talking all at once. It's April. It's the Month of the Military Child. This is your month. You earned it. This is the one month each year when all the grown-ups pause for a minute and think about how amazing  and tough and brave all you military kids are -- you three, Skylor, Daniel, Mackenzie, Zoe, Forrest, all your other friends. Maybe you don't see it now, but someday, when you're big like me…

No, I don't know how tall you're going to be. Sure, I think you'll be as tall as me. Because, because. That's why. No, I don't know if you're going to have a big butt or belly like me, but thanks for that.

Anyway, someday, when you're grown up like me, maybe when you have kids of your own…

... No, I don't know how many kids you're going to have. No, I don't know if they'll be boys or girls.

... Someday you'll think back at all the things you've already done and you're going to be pretty impressed with yourselves. You're going to look back on yourselves and see what I see now: three bright, amazing, brave, capable children. 

Capable means that you know how to do hard things, that's what it means. No, you don't get to wear a cape. Why? I don't know why you just don't.

Wait. You know what? Why not? Sure, you can wear a cape if you want to.

You've earned it.

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Contributor

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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