Military families go through a time in every move that we call limbo - it's a time when we realize that the assignment we are on will soon be over but we have no clue what our next assignment will be. Normally, this period of time is pretty short and we use it to make pipe dreams and think about all the possibilities that might be. But every once in a while, limbo gets drawn out and it begins to feel more and more like hell. The closer the date to leave a place comes, the worse the not knowing feels. The stress begins to build and the physical symptoms start to grow... and not just for the adults, for kids as well. Kids not old enough to understand are like metal detectors but instead of finding precious gold, they hone in on their parents' worries. Older kids can create their own stress and feel that of their parents. It's a vicious circle when families can't get a handle on it and the stress just continues to build and build.
Well, that is where my family has been the last few weeks, in limbo. No more...
Yesterday, we finally received the good news. Now, good news for military folks is always accompanied by the caveat, "We don't have orders yet." That means no one has signed the little piece of paper we need to start putting our plans in place - we cannot schedule the movers or give notice to the landlord, and it makes sense not to start investigating the new assignment too heartily as it could change. It's not likely to, but it could. This has happened to us once before - a beautiful assignment to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska turned into an okay assignment at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Such is military life.
But it does mean that my nightmares can take a break and the upset stomach will tone itself down. It means my oldest son's symptoms will lessen as well. He takes after me and stress means holding it all inside our chests and stomachs - we get classic symptoms that mimic nervous coughs or heart burn (both side affects of stomach acid in the throat). Not knowing can be a killer, in more ways than one. The imagination runs wild - What if that next assignment is one that separates us? What if he gets sent back to Afghanistan? What if we get stationed where there isn't a great community? What if, what if, what if...
You would think that after 20 years, I would have it under control, but I don't. And military spouses around the world all handle it differently. I envy those that can rid their stress at the gym or in other healthy ways. We try, but it still builds up until we just think we can't take it anymore. And then we manage to make it another day at a time. Not unlike hiking the Inca Trail 5 steps at a time... we just do what we have to do.
But as of yesterday, no more what ifs about where we are going. Now we can finally focus on the what ifs that apply to a specific place... two places actually. Our assignment is a two-fold one much like the one that brought us here to Argentina. We will be spending a year in Washington DC while my husband receives more training (any DC Kossacks out there that might know of a good place for a family of four to rent for a year? Or a decent used car to buy? Prius or other hybrid preferred!) with a follow on assignment to Quito, Ecuador in 2013. Yes, I will be able to write more travel diaries about South America! My boys and my husband and I should all be fluent in Spanish in another year or two and I am absolutely thrilled.
My husband joined the military because he loved the idea of public service. I, however, loved the idea of travel. My military life with my dad taught me the joys of moving (and the stresses as well) and I get the proverbial itchy feet every couple of years. Well, my husbands' latest assignments have been anything but boring and I have gotten more than my fair share of travel. And now we are going to get a little more!
¡Que suerte por la familia angelajean!