The life of a military family is really something. This past weekend was draining, to say the least. On Friday, we attended the Marine Corps ball, which was wonderful, but when we came home Saturday morning, we were met with a very sick 4-year-old – a 4-year-old that would end up admitted to the pediatric hospital just a few short hours later with pneumonia.
Convenience Isn’t A Commodity
To top it all off, my mother in law, who has flown in to help with the kids so my husband and I could go to the ball, was scheduled to fly out first thing the next morning. My mind was racing – there was no way to predict how long we would be in the hospital, and with three kids at home and a husband who would be forced to haul everybody 45 minutes each way to visit and bring essentials from home to my daughter and I, every fiber of my being hoped that she’d stay just a little bit longer.
In the 10 years my husband and I have been married, we’ve hardly asked for anything. This time, I asked, begged, my husband to call his mother and request that she change her flight to buy us a little extra time and a little extra help. I was so desperate, in fact, that I figured I’d sweeten the deal by offering to pay any difference in price that might result from the last minute change of plans.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Despite my offer, my mother in law chose to go home, as scheduled, the next morning. I spent the early hours of the morning crying subtly into my pillow as I laid next to my daughter, adjusting her nasal cannula periodically and monitoring her oxygen levels as she slept quietly next to me.
I became overwhelmed. I felt dismissed. I felt lonely. Why does being a military family have to be this isolating?
My husband left the hospital around 2 o’clock in the morning to make the 45 minute drive back to the house to catch a couple hours of sleep before he had to get everyone up and ready to take his mother to the airport.
Hardship is Our Normal
I was hurt. It always seems as though our family back home is much more involved in each other’s lives than they are in ours – and I’m inclined to believe that the cost of the last minute flight change wasn’t the determining factor in my mother-in-law’s decision to leave when we needed her most, rather, it was her obligation to care for her other grandchildren with whom she’s conveniently been able to bond with while we’re away.
A Community, United – Coming Together
I see this happen a lot. As the years pass, military families become more and more of an afterthought to the families they’ve left behind – and the fact that it’s so common in what is arguably the most challenging lifestyle to sustain, this saddens me.
We’re living on a lonely island, but we’re not alone.
We’ve all felt alone at one point or another during our time as a military family member, but it doesn’t mean that has to be the norm.
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