A Dandelion Life

If you didn’t already know, the dandelion is the official flower of the military child. It is said that like a dandelion, our children blow with the wind and bloom where they are planted.

I like this image. I like the idea that wind, often seen as a force of destruction, also carries in its arms new seeds to new places, creating new life. It paints a pretty picture for me and it makes me feel better about our multiple relocations as a military family.

If I may, however, I’d like to extend this comparison to more than just the military child but to the military wife as well. For we, too, are blown from place to place and land somewhere new each time.

But there is more to this comparison. I have never given it much thought beyond the surface idea, but if you’ll humour me for a moment, let’s look a little closer.

There, in the middle of a healthy and thriving green lawn, is a dandelion. Beautiful, sunny, golden yellow – while many are eager to pull or mow these little gems, which I have been told are actually a member of the sunflower family, I have always thought them to have a kind of sunshiny beauty to them. The flower (for I will not call it a weed!) is strong and healthy. As it enters its more senior phase, it becomes grey and fluffy (hm…this metaphor is extending a little further than I had anticipated!). It cannot stay where it has been, for its time there is done. But the dandelion does not simply shrivel up and die – instead, it goes to seed. Then it must wait for a force outside of itself to decide when it will carry these seeds and where it will blow them. The dandelion has no say but instead it hunkers down and hangs on tight and relies on the wind to take it somewhere worth growing and blooming again.

And the wind does.

When it arrives at its new place, the tiny seed does not become a new flower right away. It must make its way to fertile soil and hope that there will be sufficient rain and sun. Much goes on below the surface of the ground that will never be visible to anyone else. Imagine the moments the seed becomes embedded in the soil, and the roots that first must grow, stretching into the earth, taking hold before you will see any growth at all upon the grassy layer. Only then, after some time and the right conditions and sheer determination, will it begin to flourish above the ground. It grows, a green stem, up to the sky as high as it can reach. A bud forms and then opens and the dandelion is once again strong and bright and yellow and beautiful.

It never knows how long it will stay there like this. It may age and mature and blow just to another spot a mere several grass blades away. This is what the dandelion likes best; to grow and truly take root again and again in the same yard. The soil is the same, the conditions familiar – it doesn’t take much effort or time for the dandelion to regrow here.

But at any time, the wind could decide that a further journey is required. And so once again she, our lovely little dandelion, must put all her faith in the winds of the universe that they know best what her journey must be. She must lay down her plan for herself and surrender herself to the powers of the wind, hoping to stay put but knowing that isn’t the life she has chosen.

And on days like this one, where the dandelion feels small and vulnerable, she must remember that she is only in the brand new phase of implanting herself into the soil. She must recall what the past has taught her: she cannot bloom above the surface until her roots are strong below her. And when the dandelion looks around the yard and sees but a few sparse companions instead of the thousands of fellow flowers she left behind, she must remind herself that each time the wind carries her far, far away, it also leaves seeds and strength and memories and lessons right where she was. And in this way, she is not only where she grows now but in every yard she has ever grown. And that comforts her although it doesn’t take the sting out of another new journey.

Our dandelion imagines her old pasture. Are the flowers there the same ones she left behind? Do they notice she is gone or has another dandelion filled the spot she once claimed as her own?

Next time you see a dandelion, before you pick it or spray it or do what you feel you must, take a moment to appreciate its tiny golden beauty and consider what has had to have transpired for it to be there, blooming in your yard, in the first place.

Take care,
Mel a.k.a the newly transplanted dandelion.

A Day in the Life of a Military Wife During Posting Season

It’s early spring at Posting Season. As the ever-so-popular meme says, “May the odds be ever in your favour”.

For those outside the military circle, “posting season” is the time of year when military members get the official document, (“posting message“), that tells them exactly where they are being moved (“posted“), exactly when, and what their job will be. People *usually* have an idea that this posting message is coming.

Nearly every military spouse has been admired from civilian friends who say, “I don’t know how you do it!”. Well, I’m going to tell you. Many spouses (I’m going to defer to calling them “wives” again here since this is my experience and that of many of my closest friends) have a daily routine at this time of year that looks very similar. My days usually go like this:

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The FAQs of a Military Wife

Military wives receive a lot of questions. From civilian friends and family, from co-workers, even from other military wives whose experiences have been vastly different than your own. As posting season draws nearer, I find the number of questions I receive has increased and since oftentimes they are a variation of just a few simple questions, I thought it would be beneficial for you, dear reader, to have answers to your burning questions all in one place.

So here goes. The most frequently asked questions of a military wife:

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The Spiritual Closet

As a military wife, it’s important for me to believe that each part of our military family journey happens for a reason. It is important for me to think and believe and know way down in my soul that each posting, each promotion, each change (for the better or not), happens because we are meant to learn something from it. This concept didn’t come to me for a while. In fact, only in the past few years have I felt this way. Before that, and without this understanding, our lives felt so random. It felt that we were moved around and that things were changed willy-nilly; without purpose, without reason. It felt that no one was watching out for us. That the military, even the nation (in so far as the military is concerned), was first and foremost always first. That we were an afterthought. That THE greater good always and forever outweighed OUR greater good. Feeling this way made me feel neglected. Forgotten. Unimportant to the universe at large, really.

But now things have changed. Well, I should say that I have changed. I believe we are always where we are most meant to be. I believe that we move when and where we do so that we may cross paths with specific people at specific times so that either they or we (or both) can benefit from each other’s personalities, experiences, knowledge, and spirits.

I’ve become a different version of myself in the last 12 months. Mel 2.0? 3.0? How many versions of ourselves do we evolve through as we age and mature? I’m still me: still optimistic and family-oriented and cheerful and sarcastic and highly emotional. But…and here is the grand announcement so to speak…I’ve become…spiritual.

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Roots & Wings

On a recent visit to the local library, I got to chatting with a sweet Mama of a baby and a 4-year-old. Our kids have approximately the same age gap between them (nearly four years) so we talked about that for a little while, and soon I found myself explaining that we are a military family and only here for two years (it was relevant, I promise). I got the reaction I usually get when I tell this to a civilian mother of young kids: the raised eyebrows and slight tilt of the head followed by some variation of, “Oh wow! You’re only here for two years? You already know that? Isn’t it hard moving around all the time?”. Now, I didn’t even catch this woman’s name so I’m not about to go into a deep and meaningful conversation about the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, the pros and cons, of our lifestyle and, in particular, of moving around a lot. So I went with my standard response, a variation of, “Well it has its challenges, of course, but we sure get to experience a lot of different things”. I then swiftly move on to a different topic.

There are two separate and distinct schools of military wives when it comes to this topic: Those who truly love and embrace the changes, the chances to start again and again, the freshness of a new adventure, the thrill of meeting new people and setting up a new house, and the opportunities we are given by seeing and becoming a part of so many areas of our beautiful country. The other school, my school, appreciates and admires the first school. And it isn’t that I disagree…those can all be exciting. But mostly, I feel differently. Yes, there are advantages. Yes, I think it’s pretty stinkin’ cool that our kids have lived in a small military town, the agricultural prairies, a historic lake-side Ontario and beautiful, coastal Eastern city. Beaches and hay bales and trolley tours and the ocean. Very, very cool. And they will likely do exceptionally well in their Canadian Geography classes.

But what I didn’t say to Library Mama was how I truly feel:

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Where IS home: Hearts or Hats?

Some people say, “home is where you hang your hat”.
Others say, “home is where the heart is”.

So what if your hats are in one place but your heart is in another? Where is home?

Hearts & Hats


We’ve lived in New Town for 7 months now and have been all settled in for a while. We’ve had time to unpack, arrange our furniture, rearrange our furniture, and rearrange it again (because that’s how I roll). We’ve done some painting and organizing. And we really love this house – it suits us perfectly. We have space to relax and play but not so much that cleaning is impossible. The bedrooms are a good size and I love the way you have to take one step down into the living room and the way the hardwood creaks in the dining room. I love the windows and the trees that surround us and even the big black crow that visits our bird feeder every day. And certainly we have many hats hanging here.

 

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Packing It All Up…

As the dark clouds move swiftly through the sky out my living room window and the rain falls with increasing volume on the gazebo on the deck, I can’t help but notice a sense of pathetic fallacy. I’ve been a little storm clouds and rain myself lately.

The sky/my moods…same thing…

It’s the last night in this house. The kids and dogs are all asleep, the fridge is nearly bare, the walls naked, and boxes are in every room. Tomorrow morning the packers will arrive to finish what they began today, packing each of our possessions into a labeled brown box:

Load date: July 4, 2017
Name: Perry
Origin: Kingston
Destination: Halifax

Everything we own will soon be in our minivan or on a truck bound for Eastern Canada.

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Trillium & Lighthouses

From Ontario…

Never do I feel more like a military spouse than when I have to sell my house, the one in which I’ve lived for less than 2 years, and look for a new one in a new city, so that I can live in that one for less than 2 years.

The coming and going, the ups and downs, the adjusting and readjusting, the moving, the moving, the moving, the moving…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this life is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the weak, it’s not for those who don’t want to change and grow and it’s not for those who think they’ve got it all figured out. Because if there’s one thing I have figured out, it’s that I’ll never have this all figured out.

Let’s just look at what we, and countless others, have been dealing with the past six months:

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The Elephant

 
 

There is an elephant in our marriage.

Sometimes we talk about it.
Sometimes we don’t.
 
Sometimes I am fond of the elephant. Having one makes me feel special, important, part of this sub-culture of elephant owners. It’s unique and not every marriage has one, that’s for sure. I am certainly proud to have one. People say, “Oh! You have an elephant! Good for you. I would never be able to have one”. They say it like having an elephant requires super powers. It doesn’t. It just requires love and work and determination. Every marriage requires those things, but especially those with elephants.

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Type A’s Don’t Like Deployment

I’m a planner.
I like to know where I’m going and when and for how long I’ll be gone and what I’ll do while I’m there.
I like to plan a weekly menu so I know what we’re eating each night and can make sure we have all the groceries we will need for those meals.
I lay my kids’ clothes out the night before so we’re ready for the morning and I make Monkey’s school lunch the night before. 
I have two calendars – one on my phone and one on my wall. I reference each one daily to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
I start buying Christmas gifts in August.
We found out the sex of both of our kids at 18/20 weeks so I could get ready for our boys.

 

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