What Home Means to a Military Family

Home Means
Portsmouth Skyline

‘Where do you call home?’… an innocent enough question on the surface, but what home means to a military family is far from simple.

It’s no secret that being in a military family often means moving, A LOT.  Sometimes you have only just settled in one place and it’s time to move on to the next.  Other times, you get to put down roots and it feels like ‘home’, for a little longer at least.

I’ve found, that there is no easy answer to where I call home.  In fact, I can mean completely different things when I say ‘home’, depending on the context of the conversation.  Confused? Me too!

Home (Right Now)

Day to day, when I talk about being at home or returning home, I usually mean the place we currently live.  The place where we are registered with phone companies and utilities is where I call my Right Now Home.  

To me, it feels long-term but still somehow sort of temporary.  We’ve been here a year and we have at least another five months before my husband’s job changes.  We hope he gets another job that lets us stay here but, honestly, who knows what will happen?

When my kids talk about school, they only really talk about being in the same school for the current year.  Any conversations about what might happen when they are older always come with the caveat of ‘if we’re still at this school’.  I’m not from a military family myself so this feels like a strange way to live but to them, that’s normal.  Military life is a whole new kind of normal, isn’t it?

A young boy (4) sits in the foreground looking away from the camera. In the distance, the white Spinnaker Tower stands out again a bright blue sky.
Home means…Portsmouth

Our Right Now home is Portsmouth in the UK.  It’s a lovely place to live and we are happy here but it’s not Home Home…

Home (Home)

For me, this is the strongest meaning of home…you know what I mean, right? A place you feel like you’re from.  For me, that is definitely Scotland.  More specifically, Glasgow, which is in Central Scotland.  

I wasn’t actually born in Scotland but I moved there when I was four years old so all of my childhood memories are rooted there.  I did all of my growing up there.  Well, as much growing up as I’m likely to do anyway.  

When I’m talking about the big picture, home means Scotland – my Home Home.  I know not everyone is lucky enough to have that one place where they feel like they belong but it’s a beautiful thing.  My heart always feels a little fuller when I cross the border into Scotland.

Road sign shows the Scotland flag and reads, 'Welcome to Scotland'.
Home means…Scotland

In fact, if you were ever to be in the car with us as we cross from England into Scotland, you would probably need ear defenders.  There is a lot of cheering when we see the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign.  

Home (People)

Home can also be where your family are.  For me, this is one and the same thing because all of our close family also live in Scotland.  However, if they were to all pack up and move somewhere different, I would still feel at home when I was with them.  

It’s true that home isn’t always a place.  Sometimes it’s a person or people.  Sometimes it’s family and sometimes it’s friends who are as good as family.  If those people make you feel like you belong, they make you feel like you are home.  

If you have people like that in your life, cherish them.  As a military family, you might find that there are little pockets of People Home worldwide.  It’s a benefit of moving around that you can find good friends to visit all over the place.  The obvious drawback is not being able to see them as much as you might like.

A lady is pushing a man in a wheelchair, walking away from the camera. Beside them their grandchildren are walking with them.
Home means…Family

Home (Family)

In a similar vein, I also feel like my immediate family are my home.  Wherever we are together, feels like home.  This is pretty important for military families, don’t you think?  

In those early stages after a move, when the walls are bare and you have no wifi or curtains…I still feel like I’m home if my husband and kids are there with me.  We make our house a home by filling it with memories.  That’s the plan anyway.  Those first few weeks after a move are pretty stressful but it feels like home pretty quickly with my family around.

Like I said, what home means is pretty confusing for a military family.  I once said to my son, ‘We’re going home to Scotland to visit family but then we’ll come home to Portsmouth.’ It’s no wonder he looked confused really, is it?!