Military families experience change more often than most. Those that are good at it, learn to accept and go with the flow. Resistance only heightens the stress and the dizziness of it all.
I know. I am the mom of a deploying soldier. He left six days ago. Military life truly is a “hurry up and wait” world. And as a professional in the world of change and transition, I find it particularly fascinating to observe my own behavior and that of friends and family around me.
I am beginning to understand the fundamentals of transition in an even deeper way, as this is our second turn at this experience. First, the military experience teaches you much about patience in the face of that which you cannot control. I cannot control that my country chooses to be at war in Afghanistan. While I can make my personal wishes known in my vote, I am subject to the wishes of all my countrymen.
Second, I cannot control the choices my son makes. He chose to be in the military, and it is a career choice that has served him well. Though none of us is excited about deployment, I can be proud that his sense of service and duty rises above his personal needs, and he performs his duty. I, on the other hand, got drafted into this job.
Doesn’t the most profound change often come when we are drafted into it? Whether it is a lay off from a job, the arrival of children, or someone falling ill in the family, drafted we are. Curve balls like this force us into the best possible opportunities for choosing on purpose. We work very hard in our family to not wallow and worry about our son. To worry is human. But to wallow is giving in to stuckness. We choose to talk the experience through, to find ways to stay busy (which is why I’m training for a triathlon), and to keep our eye on the ball of living life.
Getting drafted into a change isn’t easy, but the steps to manage it are simple. We launch ourselves into work that is fulfilling, seek to discover what else we can learn from it, and decide to dock in a place that keeps our spirits up and the worries at bay.
Support above all. I tell people about my situation. It allows me to experience the pride of having others recognize my son’s service, appreciate their gratitude, and talk about the experience in a positive way. I used to think this was kind of selfish, but I got over myself on that, and decided that it’s OK to put out there what I need during a time like this.
So put yourself out there. Let others know what you’re all about and what you need to survive and thrive. You’ll be there for them when they need it.