Next year I will be swapping military life for civilian life. After fifteen years of a nomadic lifestyle; with one or both of us moving around the country, or world, every few years, we will be settling down in the same place; living together. That sounds perfectly normal for many people, but when living apart has become your normality, it can also sound perfectly odd! If I am honest, even though we chose this, when we first got the news I mostly felt a sense of sadness and nostalgia for the lifestyle we will be leaving behind. Fast forward several weeks and this news is mostly welcome now; but I am still not entering into it without trepidation:
How will we adjust? A husband coming home every evening is not something I am all that familiar with: the closest we came to that was in Cyprus, but even then he would have the odd week or two elsewhere. For the past year we have barely seen each other: living apart during the week and then four months complete separation. We will have to be mindful of each others needs for space and different routines…
Will my husband be happy doing a normal 9 to 5 job; without all the excitement of the military? How will he cope without his jollies – sorry – I meant adventurous training!
And will our children remember their amazing experiences?
- Sitting in on a Red Arrows briefing, watching their annual practice from Cyprus’s clifftops and sitting on the wing of their plane, surrounded by the pilots.
- Going to family days at RAF bases and clambering on board military helicopters and fast jet planes, or watching awe-inspiring displays by the Chinook helicopter.
- Laughing with their friends at being momentarily knocked to the ground by a low-flying Eurofighter’s noise and downdraft during a flypast.
- Living overseas and experiencing different schooling and cultural differences.
- Watching father Christmas arrive on a helicopter or a khaki-coloured fire engine.
- Watching the RAF sniffer dogs in action at family days: sniffing out the drugs that a willing child has had planted on them.
- And the indescribable excitement of seeing daddy after weeks or months away.
Aside from all the amazing experiences and opportunities the military has given us, perhaps the thing we will miss most of all is the people and the amazing community spirit.
But now the children will have a dad at their birthday parties, a hopefully less-stressed mother who isn’t having to think about and do everything by herself, a dad there for bedtime; rather than a talking head on Facetime. And a dad making it to parents’ evening and actually knowing who their teachers are, as well as being able to pick them up from school from time to time.
It’s exciting, yet daunting. Swapping the exciting, living-on-edge, independent lifestyle for the safe, routine and dare I say it, sometimes mundane. But at long last we can decide where he works and where to live. Ultimately this decision was about the children and for the children; to give them a stable upbringing, like the one they have craved since we chose to live off base nearly five years ago. It is a new chapter and we are certainly used to those. If the past fifteen years have taught us anything, it is to embrace change, nothing is set in stone and to go with the flow.
A totally shallow thought to end with and one which I suspect will have a whole blog post of its own in the coming weeks: what will I do with all my evening dresses and high heels, they certainly don’t have a place in this new chapter!