When a child is born to a military family, they have no say in the nomadic lifestyle to which they are subjected. By the age of three, this child is very likely to have moved at least twice in her or his short lifetime. It is also very likely that this child has lived without one parent due to a deployment or other factor that takes the member away, often for prolonged periods of time. Despite all this, the family left behind learns to cope in its own special way.
“Wabbit Bwanky” (henceforth known as the “Rabbit Blanket”) became that special thing that has helped my daughter cope with the military lifestyle. If you look at this once beautiful hand-quilted crib blanket, made in the style of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, you would probably gasp at its threadbare condition. The Rabbit Blanket has been washed faithfully every week since her birth and is now almost see-through after the many cuddles, trips through the mud, substitutes as a super blanket for the dog, and doll forts it has become a part of. You name it, it’s been there!
But what you don’t see are the tears; the tears of, “When is dad coming home?” The tears of, “I don’t want to move again. I’m just starting to make friends!” or, “I don’t know how to express myself because I’m very afraid.” Rabbit Blanket is her security. Even when there is not much mom or dad can say or do, Rabbit Blanket makes it better. It’s just the way it is – a coping mechanism – a safety in threads that many of us can’t understand. As my young daughter grew up, her fears turned into anxiety and depression.
Although Rabbit Blanket is still with her, it now holds a special place on her bed. Her coping skills and discussions are no longer part of the threads of the blanket. She now has an MFRC social worker to be that sounding board; a real person with whom she can actually share her fears and worries. After 17 years as a military dependent – including nine deployments, five moves (one overseas), eight birthdays without her dad, and six different schools – my daughter has overcome some tremendous hurdles and is growing up to be a wonderful and well adjusted young lady.