1. learn to open you mind, but protect your heart
this can be true of any situation, but especially in the military. you are going to encounter so many different people, from different backgrounds, different lifestyles, different parts of the world, different races, religions, with all different thoughts on life. if you believe that your way is the only way, you will be very lonely.
however, there i a time to know the right people to open your heart up to, and not everyone is that person. military families have a way of opening up faster, and giving away a lot, quickly. it's part of the process. make friends fast. you only have a few years, at most with them. just be careful you chose wisely.
2. things can always be harder.
and they will be. for you. for others. and usually when you least expect it. we've had multiple deployments, lost family members while we lived far away, have been separated from our families and each other, and yet, the hardest thing for me so far has been this weird work schedule he is on. he is here, but barely. cora only sees daddy on weekends, and bella for a few minutes before bed. we are living like a deployment, but not really.
3. goodbyes will not be the hardest thing you have to do.
when i was a kid, i would cry every time i left my grandparents house. i hated goodbyes. now, we say goodbye, what seems like daily. i've gotten good at it. it's not goodbye. it's see you later. and when people are constantly coming and going, saying hello can be much, much more difficult.
4. home is not the same for everyone.
as much as we move around, "where are you from" can be a tricky question. and even then, the place you were born may not be home. while we call charlotte home, hawaii really feels like home. we spent our first 4 years of marriage there. bought our first home there. got duke, "got" bella, and pretty much started everything there.
5. you (and those other spouses) are stronger than you ever thought.
don't count people out. that neighbor who seems to not have anything together, is probably holding it together a lot more than you think. there are days where i look disheveled and may or may not be fully appropriately clothed. occasionally, i look like i am about to fall apart at the seams, however, things are going pretty well aside from a sleepless night here or there (oh, who am i kidding, every night is sleepless). we military spouses go through a lot. we are asked a lot of, without little actual input. we sacrifice a lot, we put up with a lot, and we learn how to keep everyone fed and together on top of it all.
6. not everyone loves this life, just as not everyone hates it.
i hate hearing, "that must be so hard" or "you poor thing". don't pity me. i knew what i was getting in to. and i love it. this life suits us just fine. but i also know that the military life is not for everyone. the constant upheaval, no say in where you go or when you go there, no roots. it's not a life for every one.
7. "family" will become a very complex word.
some of our friends are as close as our blood family. and some closer. we have met people who are completely estranged from their actual families and who have adopted themselves into other families. holidays are spent with whoever is around and you live life together. it all gets very extended.
8. forget your pride when it comes to having nice things. the movers will just break them anyway.
for our wedding, i registered for 2 sets of nice dishes. in our very first move, just weeks later, several pieces broke from each set, leaving us with a bunch of random dishes. most of our stuff is ikea, refurbished or built by joel, because we have seen some real doozies when the furniture comes off the truck. so we try not to get too attached to anything. or spend too much money on anything.
9. sometimes it's fun to take the road less traveled. until you realize you aren't the only one who has done this before and there is a reason this road is less traveled.
whether it comes to shipping an animal, using a certain mover, taking a certain driving route or living in a certain area, there is usually a reason when you find out no one is using that company, or doing things that way. sure, sometimes the road less traveled offers a brighter view. and sometimes, it's a one way road along side a sheer cliff, with cars going in both directions. (that happened)
10. expect the unexpected.
because there is nothing else to expect. people always ask, "where are you going next"? and we never ever know. not really. we found out very late we were coming to germany, and even then, weren't 100% cleared until like, 3 weeks beforehand. things get dicey when you try to plan too much, too far in advance.