Friday nights are family movie night in our house, at least when it’s not football season.
When the boys are all home from school, our youngest son goes online to order pizza. After the order is complete, he watches the pizza tracker, and heads outside when the pizza is on the road to be delivered. Once the pizza is home and set up on the coffee table in our living room, we settle down and decide on a movie to watch together.
I crave these Friday nights with our boys. This has been a great routine for us this year. Our oldest son is going off to college this fall. I’ve been cherishing each and every Friday night as the last ones we’ll all have together before he starts his new life away from home.
This past Friday we were watching a movie which involved grown children returning to sell the home in which they grew up. The main characters in this movie went through a great deal of emotions as they shared memories from their home. One of them spent some time looking at the marks on a wall which charted her growth over the years. She probably believed she could have gone back at any time in the future to that safe haven of her childhood home, where she had created many memories.
My husband and I were in Korea in 1994 to 1995, when my mother decided she needed to sell the home in which I had spent my first seventeen years. I had no chance to go back and bid farewell to that house and the memories we had created there. There was a wall with similar markings on it, charting my growth over the years, that I would never see again.
In our current age of technology, I’ve turned to Google Earth to see satellite images of the neighborhood in which I grew up, to see how it’s changed over the years.
At one point when we were watching the movie with our boys this past Friday, I turned to them and asked if they’d miss their childhood home.
Our middle son, 15 years old, turned and looked at me with a strange expression and exclaimed, “Mom, we’re Army brats! We don’t have a childhood home!” I’m sure he knew I was kidding, but I mulled over his response all weekend.
While our sons were growing up, we rarely lived anywhere more than two years. We often didn’t know where our next house would be, until shortly before moving to the next duty station.
Between moves the boys’ rooms would be boxed up, shipped on moving trucks, then reassembled to fit the layout in our new houses.
Our sons have continually settled into new homes, new neighborhoods and new schools. They’ve had to adjust to new communities and cultures, and make new friends.
We don’t have a single wall where we marked their growth charts. Every couple of years we carry clinical growth charts with us in their medical files, and hand them over to new doctors at new clinics.
Our boys’ childhood homes haven’t been at one single address. Their home has been built around experiences and routines that we’ve shared in many different places.
When our college bound comes to visit from college, he likely won’t come home to the same address in which we’re currently residing. I’ve been hoping the gypsy-like lifestyle that he’s grown up with won’t affect his college life, and that he’ll be able to stay at one school all the way through to his degree completion.
When he does come back to visit us, though, we’ll welcome him with open arms wherever we’re living. And we’ll likely order pizza on Friday nights, and settle on a movie to all watch together.
It may sound like a corny saying, but we’ve truly made our home wherever the Army has sent us. We’ll always have memories of the experiences we’ve shared together, and for that I’m very thankful.
Karin Markert is a photography and writing correspondent for the Herald. A military spouse, she lives at Fort Hood.