The kids have each grown 2.5 and 3.25 inches since last June, when we were last here living out of our suitcases on our return from Italy. Now we’re with my family in Indiana enjoying the comforts of a home while we don’t really have our own. Cozy beds, couches, a fully stocked kitchen, family… we’re just missing our service member, who is on his way to our next destination to start setting us up.
May Life since January has been a whirlwind. We got official notice of our assignment to England just before Christmas. We enjoyed winter break as a family then saw off my husband for two months of training on the east coast. Winter in Omaha after that was brutal and persistent. Record snowfall totals, record cold. Blizzard, polar vortex. We mercifully never received a giant one-time snowfall. I turned shoveling snow every 2-4 days into an exercise in gratitude: thank you for not dropping more than 6 inches, thank you for my strong, able body, thank you for the fresh air. The kids had five snow days and only one full week of school until after spring break. We were home a lot. We culled piles of toys and clothes to donate. We built many living room mega-forts. Meanwhile, handymen (and grandpas, thank you!!), plumbers and painters were in and out to get our house ready to put on the market.
My husband returned a couple weeks before we wanted to list, just in time to jump on the PCS train. Leaving for an overseas assignment requires dozens of time-sensitive appointments and phone calls and even more paperwork. And although the military did have movers pack our household for us, we had to sort through everything in our house to decide what went into storage, what was donated or sold, what went in the main shipment, what we wanted in the quicker shipment, and what went suitcases to live off of for a couple of months. In short, these moves require a lot of work.
I have to confess there was more than one moment this spring when I wished we had a forever home, where I could leave everything in the closets and go plant some herbs and flowers. Where the kids could grow up with their friends down the street. Where “let’s see what the plan is for us” doesn’t get in the way of making improvements to our house. Yet the promise of setting up a whole new house sustains me. Maybe being in one place for more than a few years will feel boring?
Both boys started Little League this spring. We met more neighbors, they made more friends. It’s easy to imagine how rich and fun a summer in Dundee might be. My heart aches for them having to say goodbye to those friends, for us to not have the chance to enjoy it. Yet here we are, in the woods where I played as a kid and on my grandparents’ porch swings, filling up on family we may not see for years. Spending more time with them than we would if we lived an ordinary life in Omaha. We’re enjoying this moment before we launch into another incredible adventure.
“I don’t know how you do it,” people say about military families. I don’t really know, either. We just do, because this is all we know.