Each year, April is set aside for military children appreciation month. For the longest time, I could not get behind those “odd” holidays or “appreciation” days in each month. I mean, some of them are a little different. For example, next month you can appreciate hamburgers by celebrating “National Hamburger Month.”
This month though, we celebrate some extraordinary people. Military kids. While some of you reading may be a “military brat,” having moved from base to base and town to town, some of you may not be and that’s okay too.
Although my kids were not around for Sam’s deployment, I absolutely consider them military children.
Military kids have strength. They are resilient. They learn to manage medicines, keep routine, pack light, make new friends, adjust, and adapt. Just like their parents, step or biological, do or did while serving our country.
Military kids serve too.
Although Oliver is not quite old enough yet to be a caregiver, I do at times think he is a light for Sam. He will learn, just like his sister and brother, that sometimes Dad is tired. Dad is sad. Dad is just a little more quiet than usual. And that is okay.
Caden is a secondary caregiver. When I was leaving early in the mornings to go to work, Caden was double-checking to see if Sam had his meds. Kirsten is also a secondary caregiver. She and Sam chat about all sorts of things: high school life, sports, food, art, and those conversations help keep Sam grounded, help him focus on the good.
Military kids are tough.
Sam’s injuries from war are not visible. You can’t tell that he has anxiety. You don’t notice that PTSD. While not all injuries are visible, the ones that are invisible are just as real and just as difficult to process and navigate. Sometimes the kids know when Sam has had a rough day and needs a break. They know if he is upset. We talk and we try to learn more about Sam’s time in the military, and we share those stories with others in hopes that they too can know about war, service, and sacrifice.
Military kids have feelings too.
While it is tough to sometimes explain war, death, invisible wounds, military kids have a time processing all the things that come with being a military family too. They may not get to have a bunch of friends over at one time, they may not get to go to a theme park with every member of their family. Sometimes they may feel as if they are walking on egg shells. Remember, conversations are key, letting your kids express how they are feeling is good. That can be in conversation, art, crying (yep, we do that here), and even letting them choose something fun.
It has been said that a military kid is like a dandelion. I have thought about that over the past few years, and I have to agree. Here’s why…
Military kids bloom. Since we have talked about Sam’s time in the military, having a service dog, and navigating life, I have watched our big kids bloom. They are confident, caring individuals who respect and honor veterans, military families, and they love to meet others who are “like them” in this regard.
So, to all of you dandelion kids out there, we love you! We celebrate you! Thank you for all that you do for your military family, too.