Monday, June 25, 2012

We’re a Nice Normal Family: Follow the Move Part 5

Remember as afar as anyone else is concerned
we are a nice normal family. 
The empty bulletin board with nothing but push pins was my first “moving-moment.” My heart surged towards my throat and I had to focus on my new mantra “breathe, just breathe.” I had handed all our children zippered clear plastic cases and asked that they take down all that was important to them from their boards and put it in the folder as part of the move prep, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know that I’d be walking into their rooms with blank bulletin boards but the emptiness of these memory keepers hit me hard. It was the reality check I didn’t see coming. Gone were the high school letters for Tennis/Cross Country/Academics. Gone were the mementos of places visited, schedules for school work, motivational quotes. Gone were the photos of their lives in Japan. The three years they spent here in Japan have now become part of their personal history.

Our kids know the drill well, way to well. They are military kids and they have the moves under their belts to show for it. Our sons have attended seven different schools. They are moving the summer going into their senior year – not exactly a high point on my list of parental experiences.

When our daughter was in fifth grade her class had an assignment: they were to share where they were born and the places they had lived. She came home astonished at the number of her classmates that had only ever lived in one house (sadly she “won” for the most number of moves, at the time move count was five, she now can add two more to that list). I think it was the first time she connected the dots and maybe realized that this life we lead, of boxes and moving, of purging and organizing, of starting over every two to three years is not what most outside of the military would consider “normal.”

Perhaps that’s what makes this move more challenging than the others. The kids my children went to school with all knew what it felt like to be “the new kid.” They all have the shared experience of moving multiple times, know the demands of having one or more of their parents serving in the military and for all of them this lifestyle, this culture of the military, the label of being a military kid, for all of them – this is normal.

The bulletin boards are now wrapped, packed and sealed in a crate awaiting shipment to the U.S. It will be eight weeks before we can get them set up again, eight weeks until the “new normal” begins for us once more. 

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