Without having to give it a second thought, my absolute favorite aspect our military lifestyle is the community of family we’ve made throughout the last few years. I truly can’t imagine my life without some of the people we’ve met and I’ve often wondered how we ever did life without them. On the other hand, one of my least favorite parts of this lifestyle is having to seek out and work (yes, work) to create those relationships. It’s hard.
Moving from post to post every few years and having to start over in building your “tribe” at each particular duty station is challenging for most, regardless of your personality. At nearly all of our stations I can easily identify moments right around the 30-60 day mark after arriving that I briefly fell apart; The adrenaline and distraction of moving and getting settled had worn off and I felt a deep void by the lack of recent relationship with people who were close proximity-wise.
As military families, we recognize the importance of making our own “extended family” at each duty station. After all, we don’t have relatives around, so we have to make our own “families” at each post as quickly as we can. We know that when “life” happens we’ll need those around us to lean on, and we want to be that shoulder for others. But starting over and seeking community is so challenging.
When we PCSed to Kansas in 2014, I found myself in a pretty lonely spot. In fact, as hard as it is to admit, I’d never felt quite that lonely before. I was a SAH mom to a 10 month old baby, had a husband who immediately started working crazy long hours, and had a big, empty house that I longed to fill with friends and memories. I missed my friends from Fort Campbell so badly and was overwhelmed by the task of “girlfriend dating”. I prayed for friendships that would eventually feel effortless. Since writing is typically quite therapeutic for me, I wrote the following post three years ago to help sort through my thoughts. It’s been sitting in my drafts ever since.
In hindsight, I found those girlfriends that I prayed for. I had no idea they existed when I wrote this post, but I’m so thankful we fell into each others’ lives when we did. If you’re new to a duty station, I hope you know you’re not alone in your search for finding community. We all long for it and all go through the struggle of starting over.
Will you be my community?
To the mom I passed while on my morning jog, though we smiled at each other and offered quick “I get your struggle of running with a stroller” smiles, I’d love to have someone around the corner that I could meet up with to go on stroller jogs/walks with in our free time while enjoying each other’s company. Maybe you’ll eventually be my community?
To the church members who offered warm smiles and shook our hands during the Sunday service’s greeting time, I’d love to talk to you and tell you that we’re new. We’re new to town, new to this church, and I’d love to know how to make genuine community here. I feel a bit lost but would love to grow in my faith alongside you. Will I find that here?
To the other members of my new fitness classes, though I’m happy to be here at 8 a.m. figuring out these awkward zumba dance moves and doing 5,000 kettle bell swings, my real motivation to be here is in hopes of finding community with you. Our kids are surely interacting together right now in the childcare room (I hope my daughter isn’t pulling your daughter’s hair), and I’m hoping that we can become “mama friends” and enjoy these classes together. I’d love that social time every morning while getting our pre-baby bodies back and laughing while pushing through our last set of squats.
To my neighbors that we’ve exchanged waves with a countless numbers of times from our car or while on our evening walks, I’d love to meet you. Our house was the one with the big moving truck just a few weeks ago, and we’d love to be friends with you. I’d love if you turned out to be our community.
To the moms at toddler story time at the library, I’ve loved having small talk with you the past couple of weeks. What I really want to ask you is if you want to go to lunch afterwards, and maybe our kids can play in the Chick-fil-A play area and we can just chat? I’m not very good at initiating these girlfriend dates, but I’d love to find community with you.
To my future community of people here at our new post – I can’t wait to do life with you. I can’t wait to have your families over so our spouses can watch a sports event together while we have classic girl talk in the kitchen. I can’t wait to be there as we navigate through future pregnancies together and welcome new life into the world. I can’t wait for our kids to be each others’ best friends. I can’t wait to grow deeper in my faith with you. I can’t wait for you to be the reason that I’m crying as we leave because the Army says it’s time to go.
It’s so nice to meet you. Will you be my community?
Where did you meet your best friend(s) at your current or previous duty station(s)?