I have decided I can't wait until my kids are in their twenties so I can ask them what it was like to grow up in our family.
Not that life in Air Force Family is ever a cake-walk, even the good times carry some big baggage. But I know that when I'm 64 and I look back (at least up until this point) I'll think, "But yes, it was worth it." When I get to the point where I no longer think it is worth it, that will be the time we leave this lifestyle.
But my kids? I wonder about my kids. They seem to treasure their life right now. They balance the good and bad, they go through stages, and they certainly spend a lot of time missing Dad. Is it worth it to them?
The experiences my kids have had are experiences that the children of our friends and family who never left home have never and will most likely never have. My kids have been to the Oklahoma City Memorial and Ground Zero in NYC. They've been to Pony Express Stations in Nebraska and watched space shuttles land. They've been invited to the White House twice, and this weekend my son got to play with the band Lansdowne at SpouseBUZZ Live.
He played lead Air Guitar. And had the time of his life. Not too many six year olds get called up with the band and then get the drummer's sticks after the set (he's been beating rhythms on the furniture ever since)!
I watch my kids interact with their cousins when we go back home, and the difference is huge. They watched Night at the Museum with one, and spent the entire movie going, "We've seen that!" I'm sure it gets old to people who have to listen, but to my kids it is major excitement when they see places they know on the big screen.
Their cousins and friends back home are filled with questions - like, "Where is Boston?" (we're from California, excuse that East Coast faux pas!) and "What did Laura Ingalls Wilder's house look like on the inside?"
My kids love pizza and Happy Meals like most American children, but they also eat Afghan food on a weekly basis, and curry is an indispensable part of their diet. My second daughter decided that nothing would do on her birthday but that we eat Mongolian barbecue. And she also insists that it is just pointless for us to even bother to try the chowder anywhere else because since we lived near Boston we're just not going to beat what we had there.
Oh, and shawarma. Shawarma is a basic building block of life in Air Force Family. Someplace that serves good shawarma is one of the first things we look for when we move to a new place.
Sometimes my family at home doesn't know what to make of my kids.
And family? My kids know and love their biological family. They wait breathlessly for visits from Nana and Poppa, and all of them will sit for hours and listen to 93 year old Mema's stories.
But they also have a stable of "aunties" from all over the globe that they know they can depend on if they are ever in need. People we've been stationed with and kept touch with, other SpouseBUZZ authors, and some SpouseBUZZ commenters have become our second family and have been there for us (and them) more times than I can count.
My kids definitely have "people."
So, I can't wait to ask them - when they're old enough to think about their growing up critically - what was it like growing up in our family? I'm hoping it will relate something like the story in the original Cheaper by the Dozen book, bittersweet and certainly unique. I hope - but I think I'll have to wait another 15 years or so to find out for sure.