The 6 stages of a PCS…

I just wrote Debbie (my mother-in-law, in case someone I don’t know reads this…doubtful) and told her we have moved on to acceptance.  I have determined there are 6 stages to a PCS:

1.  Excitement!  The excitement starts the minute you have your assignment.  I could argue with myself that it starts when you see what the Base Available Listing says, showing the options of all the different bases available for your job.  This stage can last quite a while, as long as you don’t know when you are actually supposed to be leaving.

2.  Anticipation.  Once you know where you are going, it is so fun to start dreaming.  We know so much about the area.  We have picked out a pre-school.  I know all the shopping centers in the area…and all the cute little boutique stores.  I can tell you where to get the best pie, BBQ and coffee.  We know where to buy organic, and I know that the Farmer’s Market has an impressive selection.  I can tell you how far the nearest grass-fed animal farm is.  I have been learning more about traveling around the mountains.  And, I downloaded all the fishing guides to get a head start on reading!  I have daydreamed and planned.  There is so much I cannot wait to do.

3.  Worry.  Then, you worry…you worry about not getting into the pre-school.  You worry about not finding a place to live because the housing market is off-balance.  Our housing allowance for the area does not cover anything acceptable for a house that fits us.  You worry about not getting on base.  You worry about being able to find a car to buy.  Okay, maybe these things aren’t on everyone’s worry list, but they sure are on mine.

4.  Grief.  a. Maybe that is a bit of a strong word.  Grief is more descriptive of the loss of a family member, not the pangs of a PCS.  But, there are moments when I have cried.  I have been in despair over not being an 8 hour drive from our friends in England.  I have cried over not having the neighbors I have.  I have cried knowing that a phone call to these ladies just doesn’t cover what a session on the couch or a dinner does.  Knowing that we can’t pop into the backyard to share the mower, borrow milk, have a hug or an inappropriate joke is heartbreaking.

b.  There is grief in the waiting of orders, too.  Maybe a better word here is frustration.  The Man has to wait and wait…and relying on other people to do their job properly is gut-wrenching.  Knowing that I am a piddly wife and can’t just pop into his office to make phone calls or make a few office visits for him is incredibly frustrating.  These moments aren’t ones you can prepare for.  Knowing they are coming still doesn’t help the process go by any more smoothly.

5.  Acceptance.  There is nothing that we really can do to make other people do their job well.  There is nothing we can do to make the housing office at our gaining base give us the proper information, instead of the information we had previously received.  There is nothing we can do about our move, our landlord, our cars, TMO (the people who pack up our stuff) or our plane tickets.  The dates we can actually get our of here are not in our control.  The fact that we do not have orders cannot be pressed anymore.  The necessary steps have already been taken…and so we will wait.  If Little Man doesn’t get into the pre-school we chose, there are others, or I can homeschool.  If we get to our base and find that we can’t get a car for under $3000, there are other cities…and we can rent a car in the meantime.  If we can’t get on base right away, I bet I could find a wonderful family member to help us out with a hotel room for a tiny bit.  And, if the housing isn’t promising, we can live off-base in a little 2-bedroom for as long as we need.  We have each other, God’s love and grace, and enough money to cover all our expenses.  We are fine.

6.  Excitement.  The excitement will come at some point, again.  I just know it.  When we actually have orders, when we can make an appointment for our stuff to be packed up, when we can buy plane tickets, when our cars are fixed, when we sell a car…the excitement will hit us, again.  In fact, as I write this, I have a lot of peace.  I know that this is coming.  I know that there is so much for our next place to offer…and we will arrive there with open arms and hearts.  I hope they are ready for us, though.


Are there any other military people that read this?  Would you say anything else about a PCS?  There is often so much bitterness surrounding a PCS that we forget to look at all the positive things that have happened where we were…and all the good that can happen where we are going.  I just don’t want to ever lose sight of that.




One thought on “The 6 stages of a PCS…

  1. Beautifully expressed dolly. You have your heart and your mind in the right place. Aaron is a lucky man to have you in his life to help him through this. Thank you for Aaron’s service and thank you for your service (when you were in the air force) and for your continued service as a excellent military wife.

    I love you all.


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