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?