By Jaimi Erickson
As a military family, it sometimes feels like we miss out on family events. When I see family celebrating birthdays and holidays together, but we cannot attend due to distance, I think we are missing out. That pesky FOMO!
Planning our own big, fun events and celebrations is not always an option. Military family life and schedules can be complicated. It’s no easier for our long-distance family members to come to us than it is for us to go to them. But that doesn’t mean we don’t make the most of the time we have together.
Most of the important parts of life and relationships are made up of small moments repeated daily. Things like helping to clean up the kitchen after dinner, watching a sporting event together in the evening, or talking with the kids before bed.
When my husband deploys, it is not date nights or vacations that I miss. When he is gone, I miss the little moments of time together. Those small moments are what I have learned to celebrate in this journey of military life over the course of my military member’s career. The relationship-building that we do on a daily basis without even knowing it is wrapped up in events that define my family and keep my marriage strong.
Small Moments That Bring Our Military Family Together
Our family is defined by these little activities that may seem like they’d be too small to remember, but they are where we build our family bonds, together.
Family Movie Night
The kids always talk too much. About half-way through we have to threaten to turn off the movie if anyone says one more word. We have talkative kids that want to interact. It is never a perfect event. Yet, every week we all look forward to squishing together on the couches to watch that week’s feature.
Lunch Together After Church on Sunday
We all search the fridge for leftover Friday night pizza or finger foods. Everyone is gathered around the kitchen island, smiling. This, of course, contrasts with the fact that every Sunday on the way to church there is at least one kid grumbling as work to get out the door. Lunch after is always positive, though.
Conversations Together Before Bed
The conversations in these moments solidify our family culture. The kids always have to tell us just one more thing before we say goodnight. I always feel torn between wanting to hurry up and get to my quiet time, yet, I know I want to soak up that last interaction of the day too. It makes my children feel valued. Their desire to keep me in their rooms just a little longer makes me feel valued, too.
The Impact of the Small Moments
Homecomings and large potlucks are wonderful events. But, in the midst of military life, the special moments that keep our family connected are the little moments. The parts of the routine that feel small and uneventful really are the glue that builds our family culture.
As I said, the little moments may seem so little that they’d be forgettable. But they really are bigger moments to us. They are building larger memories that will last us all well into the future. That makes up for any momentous occasions we may miss along the way.