Every military spouse knows the scenario: You move to a new place, unpack the boxes (well, some of them), begin the onerous task that is school registration, and come to the Emergency Contact form. Your heart fills with dread. No one. You know not one person that could be an emergency contact, let alone multiple emergency contacts. You rack your brain. Doesn’t that one family we were stationed with overseas eight years ago live here? Would it be weird to ask them to be our emergency contact? It would be weird. Can I list them and not tell them? You have to tell them. There’s that woman on the neighborhood Facebook page who commented that she’s new. Maybe we could be each other’s contacts? Oh, the desperation. It’s pathetic. Maybe I should just homeschool? Hard no. There is no denying it: You are going to be forced into an awkward and uncomfortable social situation in order to recruit the emergency contacts. It is the way of the military spouse world.
When we first moved to our current city years ago, I did in fact ask a woman with whom I had communicated via a spouse network Facebook page – but not yet met in person – to be my emergency contact. Awkward. Last year when we moved to England, I asked a couple of women I had been introduced to before we moved to be my contacts. All was well until I realized I didn’t know their last names and had to send a follow-up text sheepishly asking for this somewhat critical information. SO AWKWARD. These were women whose homes I’d been in, women I’d dined with! Good God, it was embarrassing.
Truly, this is all very silly and irrational. I’m sure there are moms (and dads) who waltz into a new school, look around, and confidently ask the first parent they see to be the all-important emergency contact. And then they become best friends and their kids become best friends and they live happily ever after in suburban bliss.
Whether you’re that unflappable, self-assured parent or… me… moving is hard. This is not news. Everyone who has moved knows this to be true. It’s not just the Emergency Contact forms. It’s making new friends – real friends, friends you would actually call in an emergency – along with finding a new job, maybe, and new schools, new doctors, new childcare. All while dealing with distance from your family and perhaps, if you’re a military family, without your spouse. This is not a complaint. It’s just reality. So, upon receiving my husband’s latest orders requiring a short-term move to a new city, the choice for our family was obvious: He goes, the kids and I stay.
Stay isn’t exactly correct. We were living in England, so all five of us were moving somewhere at the end of our 11 months overseas. 11 months! We had moved to England for 11 months. Dealt with all the moving hassles, conquered all the new things (during a pandemic!) for 11 months. And I would do it again in a heartbeat! After all, how many opportunities do you get to move your family to a new country, even if for less than a year? But when it came time to move back to the U.S., to a new city, for another 11 months – there was no way. I couldn’t conquer all those new things before possibly moving again less than a year later. More importantly, I didn’t want my kids to have to conquer all those new things again.
You hear a lot of talk about how kids are resilient. It’s true! They are! But they shouldn’t have to be. I didn’t want them to prove their resilience and adaptability once again. Not after a year-and-a-half that involved their dad’s deployment, a pandemic, school closures, and an overseas move. It’s just too much. I wanted them to go back to their house, their school, their friends. Back to their emergency contacts.
So here we are. The kids and I are settled back into our home and Damon is thankfully only a short flight or not-too-long drive away. It’s not ideal, and it’s certainly not the choice every family would make. That’s okay! In a couple of years we’ll pack up and start another adventure together. But for now, this is the best for all of us. Oh – and if you’re reading this and ever find yourself needing an emergency contact, holler. I’m happy to give you my number.Read More