Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Roots of a Nomadic Family

Every couple of years the Navy provides us with the opportunity to move to another part of our great nation or even beyond its borders. Though the purpose is to facilitate the professional development and optimize the contributions of the service member, it allows us an opportunity for exploration and adventure as a family.

Some families dread the transition period that comes with another move, but for us it is arguably our favorite. It provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon the friendships and contributions made during our last stop and fills us with excitement as we ponder the possibilities that come with a new temporary home. This transition, though the most enjoyable to date, has been slightly different. We left our home five weeks ago and will not move into our next home for another week. Six weeks of homelessness makes many people quite uncomfortable (even we were a bit apprehensive). Fortunately, I am blessed with a wife who is all about the adventure and because we choose to homeschool we have created the flexibility to embrace the transition so many others believe to be an inconvenience. Many people feel sorry for us (or at least our son), as we move from place to place unable to establish deep roots. Our perspective is that the strength of the family tree is just as much about the breadth of the root system as it is the depth (and arguably more so). Our roots may not be as deep as others in a single location, but they extend from Alaska to Italy, Maryland to San Diego and Rhode Island to Tennessee...and we are not done yet!

We are enjoying our last few days of homelessness, as we turned a burdensome transition into an opportunity to see friends of duty stations past, explore new territories and relive milestones of yesteryear. We are recharged and ready to fully invest in the expansion of our root system in Pensacola no matter how long (or short) our stay.


  1. We like to move as well. For both my wife and I, our time at our current location (six years going on eight) is the longest either of us has lived in one place except during childhood. We keep trying to leave but have been unsuccessful.

    I think the opportunity for travel is one of many reasons people choose the military. For someone like me who spent so many years moving every two or three years, spending so long at one location is strange.

  2. The strange thing is that those who choose to become geo-bachelors is on the rise. Forced to choose, I will choose being with my family every time. I understand that many duty stations require one to leave his/her family behind, but negative home equity or a specific school for my son is not reason to sacrifice precious time together.

    I hope you and the family get the opportunity for a few more adventures while you are in uniform and I know you will create many once you are in control of your professional life. Tanks for the comment!

  3. Sean,

    Your comment that "Forced to choose, I choose being with my family every time," struck me.
    Military life is difficult enough on the service member who "chooses" to continue serving; it's another thing for their spouse and family.

    As the service member's career progresses the family sacrifice their own career ambitions and friendships, having to start a few steps back every move, kids want to graduate next year in the place the just spent their freshman thru junior-years... There's the house that they are underwater with and can't sell and then you can throw in the "I am not moving again, you go to Fort Buktu or NAS Cucamonga yourself, WE are staying here!"

    So, I think it's unlikely that there are many geo-bachelors by choice; I doubt it was their first choice, anyway.

  4. I purposefully chose the word "choose" as I believe everything in life is a choice. Albeit, not all decisions are equal, have enough options to truly feel like a choice, or provide enough inputs to make it feel informed. There are many duty stations that force us into an unaccompanied environment and there are those that are accompanied, but we choose to go it alone for the very reasons you outline. I am not preaching, nor am I judging, but my family chooses to be together given the choice. My wife has chosen not to work and my son is not of age where friends, sports and school are critical (I hope they never trump together time, but I am a realist), so we are lighter on our feet than most. We'd rather take a loss on our house, pull our son out of school or have my wife start anew if it means being together. Some claim that family is important, but time is the only resource that allows one to demonstrate just how important it is. I'll give you that it is not likely a Sailors first choice, but a deliberate choice nonetheless. I just hope it's not a choice they regret, as nothing can replace time.

  5. Thank-you. You are correct that everything we do is a choice, so many collegues forget this, and when they are faced with ultimatiums they forget it was a dozen choices already made that made this most recent one seem so hopeless.