F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
With both dog and children toys scattered around, Megan and Reagan Melvin had a typical day of games and homework. At first, it was a bit awkward for seven-year-old Reagan. He wouldn’t say more than one word around me and he would hide his face any time I touched the camera. I knew he would need time to warm up before we could talk.
After two days, I witnessed Reagan’s true self, a hyper, fast-talking, fart-noise making little goober. I could finally learn about his life as a military child with a single parent.
“From the outside, most children seem to adjust pretty well to the military lifestyle, but there’s an underbelly no one really seems to talk about,” said Megan. “Military kids grow up with phrases like ‘on time is late’ and ‘the only easy day is yesterday’, and that sets them apart from their peers in many ways.”
While I haven’t been around many children as young as Reagan, his level of maturity was certainly impressive. He quickly did what he was told to do by his mom, whether it was to clean his plate after a meal, pick up after himself, or take out the trash.
He was willingly doing chores that I at 21 procrastinate with. It was clear that his strict upbringing in a military family has had an impact on him.
“I’m proud that my mom is in the Air Force,” said Reagan. “But it’s also hard, because we don’t get to hang out as much anymore.”
Before basic training we got to hang out all the time, we did things together every day. But now it’s just on the weekend and after school, Reagan added.
To make up for the less time they hang out, Megan and Reagan play board games and try to spend as much quality time together as they can.
Any person who has been around a seven year old knows they are a handful and they test patience, like it’s their profession.
“I have two sisters, so I’ve always been a patient person, but dealing with stressors of work and home have worn my patience at times,” said Megan.
Megan works hard to balance work and home life but has found that one will always be weaker than the other.
“Col. Stacy Jo Huser, 90th Missile Wing commander, has become one of my mentors for the military and life in general. How she manages work and family has stuck with me ‘I decided there is no such thing as a balance. Some days I’m a great mom and wife, some days I’m a great Air Force leader but very rarely can I do both, and I’ve had to tell myself that’s ok.’”
When Reagan talked about being a military kid, everything he would say made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal until I asked him about when his mom went to basic training and technical training.
“I was really sad when she left and while she was gone,” said Reagan. “I missed her being there to hang out with me and play, even now we don’t get to hang out very much and I wish we did.”
When the topic of kids with military parents comes up most think of videos or pictures of them being reunited after a long deployment, rarely do they think of that kid’s day-to-day life. Reagan is certainly a happy fun goofball that also happens to be the child of a military mom.