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Though they be but little, they are fierce

It’s easy to forget our children also struggle with the tough sacrifices all military families face


As you may know, April is the month of the military child, and I encourage you to make the children in your life feel extra special.

My, how they deserve it.

When we become milspouses we are, at the very least, somewhat aware of what lies ahead. It’s impossible to grasp what being married to the military is really like until you go through each phase yourself, but the bare minimum is comprehendible: time apart and constant change. 

Adjusting to changes and missing our service members on various levels is trying on us as spouses who have made the conscious choice to support our spouses through the most difficult times. Sometimes we may forget that our children are not exempt from struggling with making the tough sacrifices on this wild ride with us, with no choice. Their bravery and resilience deserve to be recognized and celebrated.

There are days I wrestle with my feelings on all we’ve encountered since moving to our first duty station. The wonderful friends we’ve only just made that we’ve had to say “see you later” to, the extended periods of time my husband doesn’t get to come home, and all the ups and downs in between.

I tell myself that we’ll stay in touch and that I knew the friends I made would only be in the same place as me temporarily. I see the calendar markings when my husband won’t make it home and I prepare. Then as I have conversations with my kids, I remember they can’t prepare like I can.

For them, they have a classmate at school one day who was their best friend, and the next day their friend wasn’t in class, and then they never came back to class. Ouch. Then it happens again.

I have the luxury of social media, a warning, a cell phone, and a conscious understanding of what’s to come. At 5 and 6 years old, they are not told their friends are leaving, they don’t have social media or cell phones, and they only understand that they had this really great friend, and now they can’t play together anymore. And that this is proving to be a regular thing.

Before the guilt has time to set in, my kids quickly remind me of something else: their strength. We talk about what happened and their feelings. While I know they don’t understand it’s because they have parents in the service and this is what life will be like, they smile and do their best to move on.

When it comes time for their dad to leave for an extended period of time, sure, we talk about it. We watch videos and read books. But to them, Dad is just not here. Explaining to a child that nothing is more important to their service member than them and how badly they want to be there for dinner, or a birthday, or a holiday, the fact of the matter is that they are not. Children do not harbor resentment and anger that the soccer game was missed, or that they were not tucked into bed for the past month. They run with open arms to their parent upon their return, eager to rest in their arms again.

Children feel all the big feelings we do, and they are not nearly as equipped to deal with the sacrifices this life requires. But there are days when my kids help me stand tall when I feel I may fall, amazing me with their capability to brave through some of the darkest days with a smile on their tiny faces.

This month we celebrate Fort Liberty’s smallest heroes. We know all too well just how deserving they are to be acknowledged for all they do.


Editor's note: As part of CityView's commitment to filling gaps by providing reporting and information for the Fort Liberty community, our HomeFront initiative features two columnists who will write regularly about issues military families face.

Jaylin Kremer and her husband are natives of Pittsburgh. She is studying psychology and plans to go to law school and works as an advocate for mental health and victims of sexual violence. Jaylin is a member of the Fort Liberty school board and first vice president of the Fort Liberty Spouses Club. She believes that small acts of kindness go a long way.

If there's a topic you'd like for our columnists address, let us know at talk@cityviewnc.com.

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jaylin kremer homefront fort liberty milspouses military