When Not Moving Isn’t The Same As Staying Still

Cardboard moving boxes are stacked up at the door.
On the move
My daughter will be turning eight next month. She recently asked me if we would be moving again since her birthday is coming up. We’re not moving but let me explain why she thought we might be. 
Two out of her last four birthdays have been around the time we have moved as a family. We were moving overseas so we were packing and shipping our belongings amongst the celebrations. As a result, she now associates her birthday with moving. What a weird life military kids live, eh?
This year, we aren’t moving so she was relieved to hear that she could plan a party without restrictions. I hope we’re not moving anyway…never say never in military life!
But it got me thinking about how our life isn’t staying the same, even in the years that we aren’t PCSing (it’s a word).  
Moving boxes showing journey from Pennsylvania, USA to Portsmouth, UK
Moving time
For a start, sometimes we aren’t moving but a lot of our friends are.  If you’re lucky, you will find a great group of friends at your current base.  But, you don’t all arrive and leave at the same time. It caught me by surprise the first time I realized I had a revolving circle of friends.
There are some years it will feel like everyone else is moving on and you’re being left behind. I find those years tough.  Finding my ‘village’ is about putting down roots and when those roots are torn out, I feel very unsettled.  
Of course, I will (usually) make new friends but the dynamics of the friendship group changes.  New people arrive at your duty station and it takes time to work out who ‘your people’ are.  New friendships take a bit more work and it can be unsettling when a lot of friendships change at once.  Especially if you feel ‘left behind’. For a while, it feels like everything is changing.
I also know a lot of people who get itchy feet when they are not moving.  I have to say, that isn’t me – I much prefer being settled!  Even though I don’t feel this way, I get it.  There is a bit of a thrill in starting a new adventure somewhere so I understand why people crave that fresh start.
This changes how you view the city you live in though. Wanting to move on takes some of the shine off your current station, doesn’t it? It can be hard to look at the place you live as an adventure when you feel like you are done and ready to move on. I remember leaving our last posting and we had to make an effort to enjoy as much as we could of the area before we moved on.  It is hard when you are anticipating a big move though!
There are also different pressures in the years you don’t move.  Sometimes there is an expectation that you will make longer trips to visit family over the summer.  Although it is lovely to see relatives/friends, you might also want to use your summer vacation to travel.  You might want to see more of the country you are living in. With a limited amount of leave to take, sometimes these can be conflicting pressures.
The other thing I find myself doing when we’re not moving is thinking ahead.  The fact I am not planning a move makes me think ahead to what the next one will be like.  Do we know where (or when) we will be going?  Can I start planning that move?  Is there any point?  Most likely, no.  But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it!
We moved to our current posting last summer.  I remember only being here for a few months the first time I wondered out loud where would be next.  It was a bit ridiculous but I just couldn’t help it.  I’m a planner by heart so I like to think ahead!  Perhaps I should live a little more in the moment?…
All this is to say, as a military family, we never stop thinking about moving. I guess it is part of military life but even when we aren’t PCSing, life doesn’t stay the same. If I’m not moving, I’m thinking, planning, or worrying about moving!
But, as we all know, you can plan as much as you like. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a last-minute change in plans! There’s nothing like military life to throw you a curve ball, is there?
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Jenny Byron
Jenny is originally from Scotland in the UK but moved to the south coast of England in 2021. Her husband's last posting with the Royal Navy was to Pennsylvania, USA and Jenny and her family enjoyed a wonderful three years there before moving back to the UK. Jenny has two young kids (a girl and a boy) and they keep her busy most of the time. Jenny used her time overseas to get back to a childhood love of writing and creating a world with words. Jenny had never really considered herself a "Military Spouse" before the move to the USA, but now she is fully embracing the title and all that goes with it! In her spare time Jenny has been blogging about the highs and lows of her adventures moving across the Atlantic (and back!) and how she made a home in the USA. The blogs can all be found at: www.militaryspousenewhouse.com.