I received an e-mail asking me why military children get a month all to themselves. The e-mail suggested that it’s not fair military children have some type of preferential treatment or a month dedicated to them when all children should be honored.
I agree that all children should be honored, but before I dive into why I think it’s not unfair to dedicate April to military children, let me explain that each month of the year has many dedications and causes associated with it. It’s a competitive dedication world out there and causes fiercely fight for the spotlight.
For example, April isn’t simply the month of the military child, it’s also Straw Hat Awareness Month, Stress Awareness Month, Rosacea Awareness Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Kite Month, Irritable Bowel Syndrome Month, Autism Awareness Month, Fresh Florida Tomatoes Month, Cesarean Awareness Month and dozens more.
That’s right, military children share the spotlight with tomatoes, IBS, pecans, straw hats and kites.
Military children deserve their share of this crowded spotlight for the sacrifices the country asks of them. Being a military spouse isn’t easy, but being a military child is even more challenging because children are born into this lifestyle and have to trot along without much complaining. They are forced to deal with moves, leaving friends behind, deployments, changes of plans at the last minute, and parents who aren’t there for birthdays, illness, school triumphs, sport’s events and family vacations.
There are many great things about growing up in the extended military family, but this lifestyle is hard on children.
My children have asked me if we could move the war to the backyard so daddy could come home at night and my 2 year old has asked if she could travel with him and take her ponies to the war, adding that she would like to have a Dora potty there.
While older kids don’t have a hard time understanding separation and time, they have their own struggles. Maggie Mann, who is an eighth-grader who has been a military brat her whole life, told me, “The hardest part about being a military brat is moving a lot. Every time you move, you have to practically start over with friends and school.” Her brother Robbie, a high school sophomore and varsity athlete says, he misses his dad the most, “At my sporting events and family dinners. He calls a lot to hear about my running times for cross country and track, but it’s not the same as having him there or talking about it at the supper table.”
No matter their age, military children have to learn to be resilient and self-sufficient and to go with the flow. Honoring their resilience doesn’t seem so unfair.
It’s not like April means they get money or paid vacations or better yet, mom and dad back from the war. It’s a good opportunity to remember that little ones also make sacrifices and work hard.
And if you are still not convinced, you can focus on a new cause or create a new one to honor. Keep in mind, straw hats and fresh tomatoes are already taken.
Anita Tedaldi is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot. Contact her at: email@example.com