On Saturday mornings while you’re drinking your coffee, you can hear gun fire. That pop-pop-popping sound you hear on news clips is background noise here.
And in the afternoons while we were outside in the backyard, I used to tell my daycare kidlets to listen closely to the irregular explosions that they were all too familiar with. Some of their parents were the ones making all that noise. I would tell them: “That’s the sound of the moms and dads practicing how to keep us safe.”
Army convoys rolling through town are a common sight here. When new families move into our neighbourhood, one of the first question from both us and the new family is “Are you military?”.
I was a little unsure about moving into this town when we were first looking for a house. It’s got a financially diverse population, with all walks of life represented, and the reputation wasn’t great. But the price was right. So we made it our home.
And I’m glad we did.
We live in a little town next to a Canadian Forces Base. It’s a training base, so the turnover is even higher than some other bases. It’s so much different than I expected, and yet, not much different than anywhere else.
So what’s so unique about living in a military town?
1. Kids are used to making new friends, and moving trucks are a part of life.
2. Our neighbourhood is bilingual. My kids are accustomed to hearing parents and children speaking everyday French (not just classroom French) at the bus stop and at the playground.
3. You find out that Marie Kondo has nothing on military moms. If you ever need help weeding out kids’ clothes or toys, ask a military mom. They’ve purged, packed up, moved out, unpacked, and moved in more times than most of us civilians – they know how to do it right.
4. Many of our neighbours are trained in the fine art of killing people to defend their country. It’s a little intimidating, but also very reassuring.
5. You realize just how many of our soldiers are dealing with PTSD, depression, and worse, and are falling through the cracks. Many of our soldiers’ spouses and children are dealing with the fallout.
6. Posting Season (otherwise known as “spring”) means that many of our neighbours will be packing up and moving out.
7. It’s never hard to sell a house (see #6).
8. Every September, there’s a huge influx of kids at the school. This means one or more teacher and/or classroom changes for the kids each year. It also means my kids don’t usually bother learning their teachers’ names for the first week or so.
9. Remembrance Day is actually remembered here. You can’t miss it. Remembrance Day has a whole different significance to the families here.
10. We’ve gained a much deeper, richer understanding of what sacrifice means. Women give birth while their men are on the other side of the world. Parents leave their babies in the care of grandparents while they are posted to opposite ends of the map. Men and women watch their friends die far too young and violently. They may come back injured themselves. Children know more about loss than many adults have experienced.
It’s a humbling reality, living beside families that give so much.
What do you appreciate most about the families that make up our military?