What will be, will be the next great worry
“What’s next? When will we move? Where will we live? Will I find a job? Where will the kids go to school? Will we make good friends? Will we be happy there?”
These are the questions that bombard even the most level-headed military spouse’s mind, especially during the summer months when about 60 percent of the 430,000 annual Permanent Change of Station, or “PCS moves,” take place. Since military orders are issued only three to six months before report dates, military families are given very little time to make a long list of life-altering decisions about unknowns — housing choices, school placement, neighborhood demographics, local economy, employment options, etc.
Unlike most level-headed military spouses, I’m one of those people who has never dealt well with unknowns during the 28 years when my Navy husband was active duty.
You know the type. The spouses who incessantly scribble lists titled “Stuff I Gotta Do,” “Movies I Wanna Watch on Netflix,” “Household Projects I Never Quite Finished,” “Weight Loss Goals I’ve Been Working on Since Ninth Grade,” “Meals That the Kids Won’t Hate,” and “Embarrassing Questions to Ask the Doctor.”
Yep, that’s me.
Needless to say, military moves really stressed me out because I didn’t deal well with unknowns. I needed something solid, an anchor of information to plan our family’s life around. “I don’t care if we live in a cardboard box under an overpass, just tell me where we’ll live, and I’ll plan where to hang the pictures,” I’ve said often over the years.
All joking aside, there are legitimate unknowns that military families face every time they move. If we decide to “geobach” so the kids can finish school, how will that affect our marriage? Will I be able to find work in my field? If the kids change schools, will they struggle with a new curriculum, or will they have to sit through material they’ve already learned? Will they fit in? How can I make sure they won’t experience social isolation?
During the many PCS moves our family endured, I often worked myself into a tizzy over the unknowns about our family’s next duty station and our next home. To make matters worse, the anxiety over moving would make me mentally fragile, prone to completely unrelated and illogical apprehensions about our kids, the dog, our health, our parents, taxes, fruit flies, sugar substitutes, world peace, whatever.
During one move when two of our three kids were enrolled in college, my moving-stress-battered mind went to irrational extremes. “What if Anna’s roommate has green hair and bolts in her face? Could someone’s hot pot set the dorm on fire and ruin Anna’s entire freshman experience? Will Hayden get snapped up by some tech firm after he graduates, and move halfway around the world to California? Will he learn how to iron shirts all by himself? Who is going to pair up all his mismatched socks? Will I have to fly all the way out there to disinfect his bathroom and make sure he’s eating enough fruit? Will our youngest, Lilly, be forced to forgo college altogether because we will be flat broke by the time we pay tuition for Hayden and Anna? Could we all fit into a cardboard box under an overpass if we had to?"
It’s not easy being a nut job.
I’d much rather drift contentedly through life like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream, banishing worry and embracing spontaneity while belting out Doris Day’s best “Que Sera, Sera.” Do I have deep-seated “control issues” that might one day spiral into a psychotic episode and leave me wandering in front of the courthouse in a dusty wool coat and a tin-foil turban, muttering something about campaign finance reform, and pushing a shopping cart full of empty tuna cans?
There I go again.
My rational side knows that all the worries in the world won’t change two simple truths of military life: We’ll never know what will happen until it happens. And, just like Doris said, whatever will be, will be.
Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org