This goes out to all the military moms of teenagers, from the military moms of little ones.

Teenagers.

group of teenagers walking on street
Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

There are a million preconceived notions of what that age group is like and usually, they aren’t the most reassuring. That’s why I want you to know that I see how you’re parenting your teenagers, and I need to say something.  

You give us such hope. 

I know it couldn’t be easy to do what you have done and are still doing for your kids. Military childhood is a different sort of a beast.

  • Moving your kids from school to school and keeping track of the records yourself because you don’t want to risk things being lost in the transfer.
  • Being the safe place for them to feel the big feelings during deployments and TDYs that break up your life rhythm and feel unsettling.
  • Holding their hand (maybe invisibly) as they say goodbye to friends, helping them keep in touch, and cheering them on as they jump into already established social groups in their new school.
  • Advocating for them to get onto sports teams that are already playing or into the musical that was already cast.

You have put in the work time and time again, often as you’re busy rebuilding your own personal and professional lives. 

As a mom of toddlers and young elementary schoolers, sometimes I find myself fearful of those teen years.

I have nieces and nephews that are well into high school and even college, and they blow me away with what wonderful people they are becoming. But they don’t have the added, very complicated component of multiple moves and military life. I used to wonder if we’ve done a disservice to our own children by their dad staying on active duty. 

Will my kids still like me, even after they have to restart their life? Will I still like them as we navigate the raging hormone battles, sometimes with me alone weathering the storm while their dad is gone for days, weeks, maybe months at a time? Will they turn into kind, resilient, functional kids who don’t resent this life that their dad and I chose, one they were simply born into?

Watching your family gives me encouragement that they will be okay.

two teenage girls
Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

Your kids are more than just alright. They are, in fact, absolutely brilliant. I see the way they choose to spend time with you even when they have plenty of friends because your relationship has become strengthened through the trust built in each other. I see the way their siblings show up for their sports activities, band performance, or robotics competitions. They have learned that you may move away from your friends, but you can depend on your siblings to still be there. I see the way they welcome the new kids because they have been the new kids.

The experiences that I have feared will make them resent me, like living far from cousins and extended family, have instead turned your teens into kids who know the value of having someone travel to see them, and who know how to be the stand-in family to others. 

So don’t mind me liking every photo of your teens like a crazy stalker on social media. I just love seeing them. I love seeing your kids (and you) succeed. Maybe today doesn’t feel like a smashing success for you for whatever reason. Maybe you had to lower the boom of an upcoming PCS again.

But I want you to know, from all of the moms who are still spending the day wiping bums and tying shoes, that we see you and have hope. We see the really cool teenagers you are raising, and it makes me excited to be there one day, too.