I’ve been married to the military for almost nine years now, and we have moved pretty frequently in that time. Moving is always a challenge for everyone in the family, especially when you usually are not choosing where you are going to live and when you are moving. After finding a home, unpacking every box and finding a place for everything once again, there comes another challenge – making friends. My kids always seem to do well in this area, mostly because two out of three of them are involved in school or other activities. I lived in the same town my whole childhood, and even when I switched from private to public schools, I did not have difficulty making friends. As an adult, it is a whole different story.
Not to sound arrogant, but there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fun, nice, helpful, and generally easy to get along with. Making friends is simply challenging when you are frequently moving and especially when you have kids, school, a busy husband, and a whole life to manage as well. The magazine American Baby cited a study where women with children spent an average of barely five hours a week on friendship, down from around fourteen hours for women without children. Friendships are necessary and important though, especially when you are doing a lot of living on your own while waiting for a spouse to return. They provide you with a connection, someone to relate to, and a release from the normal pressures and expectations of life. I’ve found that military wives and moms really need friendships to find help and comfort in someone who knows what your life is like and how difficult it can be.
The challenge is finding good friends. I do not mean good friends as in people who are nice or good people. I mean good friends who will drop everything to help you when you need it. I mean good friends who are willing to listen and console you, and vice versa. I mean good friends who do not judge you or turn away from you just because you make a mistake or have a bad day. Acquaintances are nice – but friends are better. For anyone, good friends are hard to find. I’ve been lucky enough to make a few along the way.
I have a few friends still from my hometown that I try to stay in touch with and visit if I am visiting home. My first military friend, Becca, is still someone whose friendship I value. She gave me my crash-course into military life and was there for me during my first deployment and pregnancy. I miss my friend Katie so much, the friend who I can share anything with and who was there for me always (including keeping a baby Lorelei overnight for me while Anya was in the hospital and Andy was TDY – did I mention she has two kids herself and her husband was deployed? That’s a rock star friend). We have friends who have grown and changed, yet we still love catching up with them. Many of these are military members and wives, so I now have friends in Hawaii, Washington, Colorado, New York, Texas, Iowa, and now in Italy, just to name a few.
I try my hardest to keep up with everyone and to stay in touch. I could always do better, but I am doing the best I can. All of us have families, new friends, new jobs, and lives that we have to keep up with. However, it’s nice to know that I have a select group of people who have continued to stay in my life despite time, distance, or circumstances. These are people I would drop everything for to help and will make time for no matter what. It’s not a large group, and I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me that I had such difficulty making friends. I realize now that it’s not a bad thing to be picky with friends – because real, good friends do not come and go out of your life. It is takes a little longer to find those people, then it’s worth the effort.