DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
As we approach the end of our assignment at Dover Air Force Base, our family is overwhelmed with gratitude for the Dover community. When we were assigned to this base, we knew Carlos’ role as a squadron commander was going to be very demanding, and we anticipated the difficulties of juggling his duties with the needs of school-aged children and a professional working spouse. In order to succeed, we had to balance the following priorities: the Air Force’s mission, the needs of squadron personnel, Jen’s career and, most importantly, the values of our family with a focus on our faith. So for any of our fellow Airmen striving to balance military and family life, we’d like to share some of our experiences and express how much we’ve enjoyed being a part of the Dover community, both on- and off-base.
With all of the demands on our time, “thriving in chaos” is one of our family’s mottos. There were times when Carlos had to work late or on weekends, and there were times when Jen had to catch up on paperwork beyond her typical work hours. Sometimes, we worked long after the duty day was over, even after the boys were put to bed. There were some nights, even on the weekends, when we both had our laptops on the kitchen table and joked that it was our date night – but we were happy because we were at least sitting at the same table.
To make things work, we had to tag team and communicate; we had to coordinate schedules to take care of the kids, and we divvied up parenting duties as equitably as possible. This occasionally meant one of us taking leave or time off to attend an appointment or field trip with the boys. When last-minute schedule changes made our best-laid plans go awry, we took it as training in flexibility and patience. It was never perfect, but it almost always worked.
“In this together” is another motto of our family. These past two years, we made as many decisions together as a family as possible, soliciting the input of our boys, who sacrifice just as much – if not more. Before deciding on the final location to live, we asked for our sons’ thoughts because we wanted them to be involved in the decision-making process. For each of us, every career decision has been a family one. Regardless of where the Air Force takes us, our family understands that we’ll always have each other and the faith that holds us together. As a result, we fight for our time together; every day, we strive to have at least one meal as a family and to pray together at bedtime.
To optimize our time together, our family is also very deliberate in choosing which activities we partake in. Whether it’s local fun runs, base functions (e.g., First Friday), club member breakfasts, on-base volunteering (e.g., serving meals at the dining facility), or local community fundraisers (e.g., Dancing with the Delaware Stars), our family rolls as a unit. So, of course, at our sons’ school talent show, our entire family took the stage to perform a song!
We know firsthand the challenges military service poses to Airmen with families, but we have also enjoyed the unique opportunities that this lifestyle offers. We are grateful that our family had a chance to become a part of the Team Dover family, and the Dover community has made our adventure here amazing. To our fellow Airmen, to whom we will be saying “goodbye” to this week: We hope you discover Dover’s offerings for you and your family and that you are able to achieve your own work-life balance.