By Mrs. Mishi Harari
We’re living in difficult times. There’s so much uncertainty. So many unanswered questions. So many aspects of our lives are out of our control, and maybe even completely out of control. I get it. We’re human beings. We were created to question, we yearn for knowledge and for the answers to life’s questions. We don’t seem to know much of anything about our current situation, yet what we do know for certain is that we are all mostly stuck at home, kept apart from the friends and family and places in our lives that keep us grounded and connected. We know for certain that we are spending more time with ourselves and our families and getting to know each other better than we probably ever have, along with every nook and cranny along the walls and floors in the interior of our homes.
We are naturally shadowed with doubt in times of distress and each of us finds our own way to deal with the frustration of just not knowing. Some have taken on interesting hobbies while others may be feeling stifled. The introverts out there may be loving the “no pressure to do anything” time at home, completely content not having to deal with other human beings, while the world of the extrovert may be turned upside down and right side up again before they can figure out how to live indoors, without being surrounded and enlivened by other people’s energy. Some of us may have pursued our creative outlets and have possibly gone overboard with our out of the box ideas, and others may be feeling like their creative outlets have been stripped down to nothingness.
I have heard many versions of how this pandemic has affected people. I have heard those talk about how being forced into homeschooling their kids has given them a completely new perspective on education and how they have become inspired to continue the at-home learning when things go back to what we call “normal”. And there are those posts that we all read of those who feel as if they are suffering immeasurably having to stay at home, educate, play with, talk to and entertain their kids on a non-stop cycle. No judgements there. There are no adequate words to describe the amount of emotional and mental energy it takes a person to do all of those things and still feel sane at the end of the day, if there even is an end to the day.
Yet what is most remarkable to me is that we see so many people, so many families learning what every military family already knows how to do. It’s part and parcel of what the military family is and what they do day in and day out. It’s what is normal to them. Being flexible. Recognizing that everything about their lives is out of their control, besides for the things they think and feel and what they do about those thoughts and feelings. It’s trusting. It’s understanding that at any point the military spouse can get called up and leave with just a few days notice. It’s knowing that they can be moved to any place in the world whenever the higher authorities see it fit. It’s creating bonds with those around them and learning to rely on those they never imagined would be the people they would become closest to. It’s letting go of expectations and the things they cannot control while holding onto the things that make them feel safe, all at the same time. It’s about finding the things that help keep their spirits up during difficult times and making sure they have the support to pursue them. It’s a life that requires faith, skill, humor, and confidence.
And above all, it requires respect and determination. It takes determination to make a great situation out of a crummy one. It takes determination and a strong will to adapt to whatever military life puts before them. And that’s just it. The military family can adapt. It can bend and sway, it can move from home to home, base to base, span time zones and drastically different climates. It can stand on its own two feet when the military spouse is away, sometimes for months at a time. The military family creates grounding roots wherever it is planted yet it doesn’t break down when it’s uprooted, whether physically or emotionally.
I am constantly asked how I do it. How is it that I live this military life, homeschooling, in the middle of nowhere, without the support of a Jewish community, moving all the time, my husband going away so often? My friends have told me time and again that they would never be able to do what I do. They say they would never be able to live the life of a military family. Well friends, I beg to differ. You are all doing it right now, flexing those mental, emotional, spiritual and maybe even physical muscles. Look to the military family for guidance. They will show you how to proceed in times of uncertainty. You will learn from them how to gather strength when there seems to be none left to gather and nowhere to gather it from. We were born to succeed. We all have the ability to do so and we each have our own set of skills to reach the top. Don’t tell me you can’t do what I do. You can and you are. It may seem out of your league, yet if you stop and take a look at yourself, you’ll see how much your life right now parallels that of a military family’s. When the world is dropped into a pit of confusion, despair and frustration, it can look to the military family to help pull it out, one strong, grit-filled step at a time.
Originally published in the May-June 2020 issue of the Jewish American Warrior.