We all know the saying – “you never really know someone until you’ve walked a day in their shoes.” This proverb might ring most true to the child born into a military family. The unique experiences of a military child are incomparable to the average American childhood. Since April is the official Month of the Military Child, we decided to sit down with Grace and Macy Rupp to learn about their experiences growing up as the child of Colonel Rupp, a recently retired F/18 Marine Corps Fighter Pilot and siblings to Liz, a 1st Lt. in the Army.
What is most people’s reaction when you tell them about your childhood?
Grace: Whenever people realize that I am a child of a service member their first questions usually revolve around moving. By the time I graduated high school my family had moved across the country eight times (honestly a small number of moves compared to most military families). For the majority of my life I have lived in San Diego, Japan, Annapolis, Washington DC and now Scotland. Looking back on all the moves, I would love to say that each one got easier or that I grew accustomed to saying goodbye to friends and family, but in actuality, as I got older it seemed to get harder. With that being said, however, moving exposed me to parts and peoples of the United States and world that I might not have ever been able to see or experience.
What was it like moving so often and how did you adjust?
Macy: My family and I met plenty of challenges moving around and when my dad would deploy, but I’m now so thankful for the experiences I had. Deployments and moves are often an inevitable part of military life. You never really “get used to it” because every move is different, no matter where you go. I found moving more difficult the older I got. The older you are, the more intimate friendships you are able to form, making moving more and more difficult. I got used to boxes and moving trucks, sure. But I never got used to saying goodbye to friends.
Have you remained friends with the people you’ve met along the way?
Macy:My friends and I were able to stay close thanks to email and phone calls, as well as snail mail. I have to say, receiving hand written letters from 3000 miles away is awesome and super artsy, so my friends and I still write letters to each other. Staying in touch can be difficult, but now with social media, it’s pretty easy. And Sandboxx makes it really convenient to stay in touch with family and friends who are active service members, like my sister Liz.
How did you stay in touch with your Dad when he was deployed?
Grace: I would love to sugar coat deployment but it doesn’t get easier, you only get used to it. When my dad was gone, really no matter the location, we were limited to weekly phone calls and emails, if that, and the seemingly non-existent and ever lagging use of video teleconferencing. New technologies obviously make life easier to communicate with those who are off the grid, but daily life gets in the way on both ends. That’s what makes Sandboxx different. You can send a letter straight from your phone no matter where you are or the time of day. Ultimately though, getting through the length and number of days can seem like pulling teeth, but keep going and stay busy. Distractions made life significantly easier.
How did you cope with the difficulties of a chaotic lifestyle, and what advice do you have for other kids with the same situation?
Grace: Life goes on even when your loved one is away, so keep doing the things you love to do – my mom was excellent at keeping my sisters and I busy with dance lessons, sports practices, chasing after our new puppy and just being kids. The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for families during deployments, but keep celebrating and be grateful for your family members that are with you! For me, enjoying the small moments with my family – driving and singing in the car, countless family dinners and simply being around each other – has been far more meaningful and memorable than any holiday. I would recommend cherishing the time you do have together, whatever the circumstance, instead of holding onto holidays past.
Macy: Middle school was definitely one of the hardest times in my life. Kids were mean to me, simply because I was new. It took me a really long time to figure out why they were so mean to me, and it wasn’t really until high school that I figured it out. Kids were really just mean because I was wise beyond my years and had more life experiences. They had lived in the same house and had the same friends their entire lives. As a military child I got to grow up traveling across the US and even outside of North America. If you’re also a military child, my advice to you is this: you’ve had experiences that most people in the world have not and ultimately won’t. That means that you have a special set of beliefs and strengths that set you apart from others. These qualities make you awesome. Accept that and embrace it!
Have a deployed Father, Mother, Sibling or Friend?
Stay in touch with your deployed loved ones through Sandboxx! Our Mailboxx feature allows you to communicate and send letters to service members off the grid as easy as you would send a text. Click here to see how it works!
We want to wish a happy Month of the Military Child to all the sons and daughters of America’s service members. We want you to know that we all appreciate your sacrifices and service to our nation. You have the love and support of the entire military community.
“Sometimes people leave you, half way through the wood. Do not let it grieve you, no one leaves for good. You are not alone. No one is alone.” – Into the Woods
About Macy and Grace Rupp
Macy Margaret Rupp is originally from San Diego, California. She currently attends Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C. When she’s not busy doing homework, you can find her playing the guitar, taking care of her family pets or designing lighting schemes for live theatre and concerts.
Grace Rupp is a student of International Relations at the University of St Andrews Scotland. When she isn’t reading or writing, she spends most of her time planning her next travel-filled holiday, volunteering or teaching ballet. Time spent away from university largely includes enjoying the sights and sounds of Washington DC, teaching more ballet and loving every minute with her family, friends and pets.