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An Open Letter to My Military Children

My dearest little ones,

Long before your father and I met, we were raised to believe we could do anything. We were taught to work hard, give of ourselves, and the difference between right and wrong. We were given separate dreams for similar things: to find a lifetime of love and laughter, purpose and promise. So much of those things we found in each other, and in turn, in you. But even before I knew him, your father found his purpose. He joined the United States military. He was compelled to serve his country as generations before him had, and it’s a choice he continues to make every day. That incredible decision, while always noble, isn’t always easy. But it is a choice.

As you grow older, my dear children, you will learn that all our choices bear consequences. While it may seem that your father and I (and the Department of Defense) make the decisions for our family in a vacuum, it’s important that you know we are thinking of you every step of the way. While the military will demand much from our family, it is our responsibility to uphold the promises we have made to you.

We can’t give you permanence, but we promise you stability. 

We will move. You will have to navigate a new town, with new friends, in your new school, while we unpack boxes in another new house. You’ll have a different room, different zip code, different teachers and different routines. While every move will bring unique challenges, some things will not change. We will hold you to the same standards no matter where we live. You will still be expected to be kind, gracious, and respectful, even if your new classmates aren’t. We know it’s hard. Moving is hard on us, too. Places will come and go and so many things will change, but our family will be your constant. Through uncertainties, you will find resilience.

We can’t always give you togetherness, but we promise you unity. 

Your father will deploy again. We live in a dangerous time and he has a critical mission. There is nothing more important to him, and to us, than ensuring our family stays together despite distances. Just like the military, marriage is a choice we both have to make every day, as well. We will continue to make that choice, and we will all count down the days to homecoming together. We will show you that thoughtfulness transcends cities, giving doesn’t always involve a purchase and that sacrifice takes many forms. Through separations, you will find the power of commitment.

We can’t always give you a brave face, but we promise you authenticity. 

There will come a time when your dad gets orders he wasn’t expecting. We may have to bury another member of our military family. In the least, we’ll at some point have to say goodbye earlier than we anticipated or hello much, much later. Things rarely go as planned in this life, and sometimes the unexpected is just too much. A great majority of the time, you’ll see a reassuring smile and hear about how we can do this. Once in awhile, you’ll see the tears well up, and occasionally, some spill over. Having emotions makes you real. We want you to know it’s important to be brave, and it is just as okay to cry. Through struggles, you will find the courage to be true to yourself.

There are so many things we want for you in this world, far too many to list in one letter. You can be anything you want to be and go anywhere you dare to go. We want for you what was wanted for us: to find a lifetime of love and laughter, promise and purpose. We’ll do everything we can to help you search.

 

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