Military Strong: #HowWeFamily

It was seven years ago this month when my husband and I moved to Misawa, Japan. Jeff accepted a job with the Department of Defense, working on a US Air Force Base as an environmental engineer. Along with being a foreigner in a foreign land, I also felt like a foreigner on the US Base; I had never had any experience with any of our Armed Forces and felt completely overwhelmed. I felt alone and lonely, like I didn’t belong.

It didn’t take me long to realize how ridiculous that was. No one does Family like the Military.

The picture of strong Military Family... this lady right here, her husband and her children.
The picture of strong Military Family… this lady right here, her husband and her children.

The second week we were in Misawa, the wife of one of my husband’s co-workers was knocking on my door, offering to take me to lunch. She showed me around the tiny town and made jokes about getting used to driving on the other side of the road. She took me to a quaint café with the most delicious scones and showed me how to order food without knowing a lick of Japanese. She filled what could have been uncomfortable silence with stories and laughter. Having been an Air Force wife for over nine years, she knew what it was like to be a newbie, and she recognized the loneliness I would be feeling and eased it without even asking. This is #HowWeFamily in the Military.

The third year we were in Misawa on March 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm, there was an earthquake- a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. I was 19 weeks pregnant with my daughter and had just laid my two-year-old down for a nap. The house started to shake, the intensity growing by each brutally slow second. I ran upstairs to my sleeping toddler, gripping the railing to keep from falling. After three years in Japan we were not strangers to earthquakes. But this one was different, terrifying. Once the earth stilled there was a moment of eerie silence, which was then filled with the town’s alarm system and an announcement spoken in Japanese over the loud speakers- a tsunami warming.

TYLENOL_INFLUENCER BADGEThe power was out. Cell service was out. My husband was at work and I had no way of reaching him or knowing if he was OK. My toddler was awake and we were out of diapers. Without hesitation I packed us up in our tiny car and drove to my friend’s house- my friend who was very pregnant and due any day. This is #HowWeFamily in the Military. When the earth is unsteady and you can’t say with certainty that everything will be OK, safe, you gather without being asked. You drive over the broken roads without knowing if a tsunami is coming, you rush to the side of your pregnant friend to make sure they are alright and they fill your bag with spare diapers.

Once her husband walked in the door, dressed in his Navy blues, strong and present and home, my toddler and I drove back over the broken roads to our home. We walked up to the door to discover a bag filled with snacks and a note “I wanted to make sure you were OK. Come by if you need anything.” This is #HowWeFamily in the Military. We fill bags with snacks; we check in, we care.

Visiting the healthy baby boy, born into a loving Navy Family in shake-y Japan

The last year we were in Japan was one filled with travel for my husband. His last trip before we moved to Jacksonville was over a month long. Every family on that Navy Base had experienced deployment, and as the wife of a DoD employee it was finally my turn to experience solo parenting for a seemingly endless stretch of time. But who was I to complain; my husband was safe, doing environmental engineering things. No combat, no danger, no war zones. How could I possibly complain about how hard it is to solo parent when other wives are worried about their husbands coming back home alive?

It was the day he was supposed to be flying back home, but his trip had been extended for another two weeks. After a week of being stuck in the house with a fever for both the kids and me, I had forgotten what sunshine even looked like. My best friend came over. My best friend, who had five kids at the time, whose husband had been gone for six months- “I don’t care if it’s for one day, one month or one year. Going at it alone IS hard, for you and the kids. Do not feel like you CAN’T complain; you can. And here are some muffins.” This is #HowWeFamily in the Military. We load our five kids into the van and we bring muffins to our friends who need a little sunshine. We tell them it is OK to say it is hard.

That same night around 2:00am my daughter woke with a whimper- her fever was back. I scooped her up and took her to the sofa, then stumbled to the medicine cabinet. The thermometer read 103. And we were out of TYLENOL®.

My exhaustion gave way to worry, and the worry quickly morphed to panic. At 2:30 in the morning with a sleeping five year old and a crying, fevered two year old and a husband a world away, what was I going to do? I signed on to the Navy Base housing community Facebook group page. I made a desperate plea for TYLENOL® and waited. Not a minute passed before a mom I had never met was messaging me, asking for my apartment number.

This is #HowWeFamily in the Military.

We drive to a stranger’s apartment at 2:30 in the morning to bring TYLENOL® to a fevered toddler. We understand the panic, and we help ease the worry; there really is no such thing as a stranger in the Military Family.

I was so lucky to be a part of the Military Family for six years while we lived in Japan. No one does Family like military mamas; acceptance, open arms, support and love; strength and caring, wisdom and giving. This is #HowWeFamily in the Military community.

Not just friends, family.
Not just friends, family.

TYLENOL® would love to hear about how you family. Join in by posting or share a photo or video of what represents your family love and pride using the #HowWeFamily hashtag on Twitter or Instagram. You can also and visit the website to learn more and see other great family stories.

I have received information and materials from McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.

Bryna is a stay at home mom who recently moved to Riverside in Jacksonville, Florida after living in Japan for six years. From figuring out how to make a foreign country 'home' to figuring out how the heck her six year old son can get pee BEHIND the toilet, Bryna approaches life with humor and open-mindedness. A huge advocate for Waldorf education and an overall gentle approach to parenting, Bryna enjoys exploring the world with her two children through eyes of wonder and excitement. She loves to write and writes about what she loves; family, traditions, food, wine, and how to find happy in everything.


  1. Oh, Bryna, that was so touching! I work in Veterans Affairs at UNF and I see how these students support each other like family. The community formed through the military is unlike any other. Thank you for sharing.


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