I remember my mother saying, “Go live life; adventure!” when, as a thirty-nine-year-old, I sat and talked with her about marrying my military serviceman.
My mom had lived a similar nomadic life with my father’s hotel/resort business job back in the ’70s. That led her to leave her home in Hawaii and find herself in places she’d never imagined she would call “home.”
In twelve years of marriage, (from 1974 through 1986), my mom picked herself up and moved her household nine times.
About seven of those nine moves happened during my childhood – before my parents divorced. I told people I felt like a military kid because I moved so much that, like them, I, too, lacked the kind of stories people who stay in one place possess – the kind that start with: “You know my friend such and such from first grade…remember them?”
This is probably why it was easy to say yes when the most important person to me gave me her blessing and said to live my life with adventure.
My First PCS
I had gone through a divorce almost two years prior to meeting my husband and had moved twice as a single mom. Let me tell you…moving is stressful no matter the reason why you are doing it.
So when I combined my household goods with that of my new Army husband, I went into an overwhelmed state of chaos. Over the course of his sixteen-year career, my husband had done this a zillion times and knew how to purge and how to buy replacements for things broken in his countless moves without feeling the sting of material attachment. He kept replacing the term “moving” with “PCSʻing,” but my brain couldnʻt understand this first of many new military acronyms that would become part of a language that, in a year’s time, would just roll off my tongue.
He gradually helped me “pre-pack,” (or, in other words, prepare before movers came to pack up ALL of our things). I was fascinated by how quickly the movers came in with their packing tape, folded boxes, and back braces.
Our apartment went from a very lived-in place with rapidly created but beautiful memories, including:
- Starting a relationship with a military servicemember
- BBQʻs by the poolside with my daughter and her soon-to-be stepdad
- Hosting first family holiday dinners (because we were in my hometown)
- Getting engaged
- Getting married
- All those firsts that happen in relationships
From that…to empty. From that…to waiting for the next occupants to come and make it their home. That shift made me realize a big change was coming, and I kept my mother’s words in the forefront.
“Go live life! Adventure!”
My mom always said that she enjoyed the move to a new location because it was exciting to learn about a new place and its culture. She also loved the exposure to a new world for her kids that they could never get from learning at school. This is exactly what I wanted for my daughter.
When we had made it to our new duty station and checked into our hotel after weeks of traveling, I wonʻt lie. I broke down and cried. I think I was mentally exhausted from the idea of how many things needed to happen to resume our life:
- Getting a house on post (with a required attitude of “whatever you get, you get”)
- Registering my kid for school
- Figuring out how the commissary worked (I was a newbie)
- Registering my kid for sports
- Apparently getting all set up at the on post-hospital and getting a new PCM (ANOTHER acronym)
- Learning to drive in a place that I was sure I would get lost in.
I don’t think anyone can truly prepare a military spouse for the seemingly endless to-do list and crazily huge amount of knowledge required for a first PCS."I knew, in a more seasoned and much more than just geographical way, where we were going before we got there. Now that I had a couple of years under my belt as a military spouse, that to-do list didn’t seem quite so suffocating." @iwillwaitvsp Click To Tweet
The Next (and final) PCS (…at least because of the military. Woohoo retirement! 🙂 )
Sure, it wasnʻt our first or second choice of a duty station, but I wasnʻt going to let that determine how I would enjoy our life in our next home. #TrueMilitarySpouseStory
This time, I was so much more prepared. As I went through the motions, I thought about my mom and how she would have gotten better as each move happened, from only having herself and my dad to worry about, to eventually making moves with 3 kids in tow.
“I got this,” I told myself.
I knew about joining Facebook groups and finding friends before I got there. Finding out where NOT to live, researching the best schools in the area, and seeking out a trustworthy realtor to help us buy a home this PCS-around. I knew, in a more seasoned and much more than just geographical way, where we were going before we got there. Now that I had a couple of years under my belt as a military spouse, that to-do list didn’t seem quite so suffocating.
We purged, and I said goodbye to things that werenʻt heading into boxes with those little colored stickers indicating a lot number that this lamp belonged with the couch that might end up in a different truck.
I said goodbye to friends just made and a friend that was the last of our original bunch, naively thinking we would still be as close as we were when we lived right next door."So much newness… The figuring out what cabinets will hold the next memories of this or that. The curiosity about what home in the neighborhood housed my new best friend I was sure I’d find." @iwillwaitvsp Click To Tweet
Driving up into the driveway of our new home was exciting. That empty house feeling before your household goods get there is like being in a cave, and you see how far the echo goes.
So much newness… The figuring out what cabinets will hold the next memories of this or that. The curiosity about what home in the neighborhood housed my new best friend I was sure I’d find. The backyard upgrade for our rescued dog with so much more room for her to run (and “fertilize”).
I called my mom, and we talked about making it to our new place and about how communicating with her family back in the 70ʻs was mostly through letters, as telephone calls were spotty and unreliable then.
She expressed the same sentiment about enjoying where we were and how excited she was for the new experiences her granddaughter would be getting.
And that is how I have looked at our last two PCSʻs.
…through my momʻs eyes and with her blessing that allowed me to leave home and ADVENTURE.