connections | military life

This is move number 5 since I said I do to my Air Force husband.

And by now, I having the packing up a household, finding a new place to live, moving thousands of pounds of stuff, staying in hotels, unpacking, figuring out where to put everything, sorting what needs to be stored for ‘this house’ (but kept in a closet for the ‘next house’), and all the logistics of moving down pretty well. Granted, it’s harder with kids. But it’s matter-of-fact and and a list to check off.

Even the learning a new neighborhood and streets, finding a new grocery store, doctor, dentist, etc isn’t too bad. It’s work, yes, but once again it must be done.

The hard part, the part that makes my heart ache, is making new connections.

New friends, new church, new groups, new playdates, new fellowship.

I  h.a.t.e that moment when you walk into a new group or new church and you don’t know a soul. You don’t know where to go or what the schedule is. You don’t know if anyone will talk to you or if you will make friends. And as hard you try to be open and forthcoming, you still find yourself smiling that fake smile most of the time, and tucking away the real you, your true heart, because you just don’t know who or what people are.

The moment when you sit in your chair, quietly, watching old friends catch up and chit chat, desperately wishing you could do the same with your friends, but they are spread about the world.

We have lived on base and off base, but always near a base. This base, it’s different. It’s big, and although a lot of people live on base, they don’t have housing large enough for us. And no one lives near the base. So we are in this wonderful house on this gorgeous land, more than a half hour from base. In the middle of a county with very few military affiliations. This, I have discovered, makes things infinitely harder.

See, military spouses know what it feels like to be that ‘new girl in the school’ who sits quietly alone at the table. They see her and remember that a short year ago they were there, and that in a couple of years they will be back there again. They are good about stepping over, including you, pulling you in. It seems some civilian spouses, who have lived in the same place for years, often find it hard for them to see past their connections and branch out. They just aren’t as used to it as military spouses.

And to top it off, military families often have a blessing that is harder for civilian families, stay at home moms. I’ve discovered, for many reasons, there is a larger population of stay at home moms in the military community. Since this is my chosen (and adored) profession,  I am finding it difficult to make new connections here. The majority of the activities sponsored by local churches and libraries are at night. starting between 6/7, when most  parents are getting off of work. This is when my kids go to bed.

And I won’t mention how much work it is to take my kids out alone. I can, and do, take all three out by myself, and they are very well behaved, but let’s be honest. It has to really be worth it right now. Simply the process of loading and buckling them all into the car takes me nearly 20 minutes. So a trip to the grocery store means a total of  almost an hour and a half of loading, unloading, loading, and unloading again (not to mention the actual shopping and unloading groceries). And since the twins still take two naps a day, I’m sure to cut into one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I do it, sometimes all of us need it! but not every day. And most days, my mental and physical energy aren’t up to it.

So where does that leave me? A stay-at-home mom with three small children and a fourth on the way?

Right now I’m not sure.

Except for realizing just how good I had it in Minot. The amazing and dedicated friends I had. I miss them.

Now, I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle or my crazy little blessing for anything. THIS is my life, and I love it. And I will admit I have not yet done my full due-diligence on seeking out friends and exploring options here. Between unpacking and trips back home, I haven’t had the chance (or energy) to focus on it. But I will. And I will make friends. I will find a group. I will find that click, that connection. It’s happened every other time and it will again.

But I think oftentimes people don’t quite understand the impact that moving across the country, every 3 years. So here’s my open heart. To me, this is one of the most difficult aspects of military life.

So the next time you see that woman sitting in the corner by herself, go say hi. She might not be a military spouse, but she might be new someplace, and oftentimes, just showing up takes more heart than you can imagine.

And for my military spouse friends out there, how do you make friends with every move?

6 thoughts on “connections | military life

  1. Newly USAF wife, first duty station is at Barksdale. Haven’t really made any friends yet. I’ve been here since September 2012. Slowly starting to reach out now though..

  2. Girl its hard for everyone to get out and make new friends but you have 3 almost 4 little ones making it even harder! You are not only a strong woman but you are aslo very brave. This time of “hardship” will pass, I’m sure God will be blessing you with a good local friend soon. And yes being that far from the base i would bet you won’t have the same kind of friendships where you just run over to each others home whenever you want but you will make some friends that will be willing to drive all that way. Find a MOPS group, i know how much you loved it so maybe that will be a good way of meeting others. Oh and as I side note, if I was you I would so hire a part time nanny for a few months once the baby comes, but knowing how you are, you will do it all and make it look easy!

  3. I do it with great difficulty. I am an introvert and it’s like every time I try to make a new friend that doesn’t quite work out, all of my social energy is used up for a few weeks. But I also find myself putting it all out on the table early.. we are only in one place for so long, there’s not always time to tiptoe.
    This is a hard area, I agree. We are a half hour from Andrews, but my husband doesn’t even work there, he is at the Pentagon. While I only have one child, for the first year of his life he hated being in the car… screaming and crying until he was drenched with sweat and almost choking… so that made the idea of the grocery store, or play dates, or visiting family, absolutely terrifying.

    Anyway, I wish you good luck. And thanks for writing.

  4. Wow! You took the very words and feelings out of me right now. I’m sorry you are going through this, I am too at this same time. In fact, I went to a class with Trace this week that had a lot of local Moms that were all friends and got totally snubbed by them after multiple failed attempts to join their conversation. I know it is not a reflection of me, but talk about a confidence killer. It took me so long to get adjusted to our last two assignments, I am really trying to make this one different. I am physically and emotionally exhausted, and I only have one! Hang in there, and know that you are not alone.

  5. One of my friends recently showed me an article about how making friends in our 20’s and 30’s is very hard. We think about how we made great friends as teenagers and want to share that connection with people, but unlike back then where all our lives had SO much in common, as adults it’s not the case. There is no one who’s marriage, career, and children are exactly like ours are. So even when we can relate we can never completely understand. My husband is a resident, which means we have had 2 of our 3 moves so far (the 1st to med school for 4 yrs then now to residency). Residency can range from 3-7 years, which means people are constantly going and coming. Luckily our hospital alliance (basically a wive’s club) is strong here. But still it’s hard. There are 3 things that have helped me feel at home. I’ve had to push myself to be more outgoing at the alliance, church, the library, ect. Even if it’s a 5 min. adult conversation with another mom at the library who I may not see again, it lifts my spirits and makes me feel connected. I’ve learned to schedule my day. I was never a strict scheduler when I had just one, but now it’s we are awake we do these things by morning nap then we get out and back by lunch then outside play, bath, supper cooking during afternoon nap, dinner, teeth, and bed. Also I schedule things for my daughter to do (gym and dance now, when dance is off for the summer we add soccer). That way I see some of the same moms each week. Our neighborhood has a pool we joined and we got in the routine last summer of seeing the same kids and parent’s there as well. Which those friendly familiar faces can come to mean a lot when you feel a bit homesick. And finally I’ve learned to be happy at home with my kids. I know people socialize way more then I do, and I would love it do the same, but I am happy with my kids. We do our thing, we have a fun day, everyone is happy and healthy, there’s really nothing else that I need then to know that is true! Hope it helps some, I’ll be praying for you during your time of transition.

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