The time before I was a military spouse sometimes feels like a lifetime ago. In reality, it has only been nine years. Yet in those nine years, how much has changed! We have lived in four different houses in three different time zones. One required me to learn a new language. I gave birth to all four of our children, mostly in different states and countries. And I sent my husband off for deployment three more times. Experience has aged me, turned me into a ‘seasoned spouse.’ When I look back at the girl I was in high school and college pictures, it feels like someone else’s life. The younger me had no idea how many challenges lay ahead. And she was woefully unprepared for many of them.
It’s easy to forget that there was a time when I knew nothing about military life. But the past is important to remember because it will always be repeated. Even though it has been 16 years since I sat in the recruiter’s office with my boyfriend, today somewhere there is another girl who is sitting there with a million questions running through her head. It has been a long time since the first day of my first deployment. But today, somewhere, someone is crying as the days of their first deployment stretch out endlessly before them. Those moments are challenging. I wish I could be a military spouse friend for them to make things a little easier.
What military spouse friend can you be for others?
There is a motto that has been on my mind lately: be the military spouse friend you needed when you were younger. This should be the rule for military spouses and significant others everywhere. We have all faced challenging moments of grief, frustration, and doubt. We have all craved support and friendship during those challenging times. Never forget that pain and loneliness. Once you have moved through it, reach out to help others facing similar situations. Want to change the world and make life better for other military spouses? Be who you needed when you were younger.Military spouses, be the friend you needed when you were younger! Click To Tweet
I can tell you what military spouse friends I needed when I was younger. In some cases, a friend magically came along and helped me. Other times, I was on my own. For those who reached out and helped me during a tough time, I will never forget your names and faces. You literally changed my life. The only way I can repay such kindness is by helping others in the same way.
When my boyfriend first joined the military, I needed…
- someone who had experienced military life and could answer some of my thousand questions
- a friend who was in a long distance relationship and could understand the challenges. Someone who wouldn’t tell me to break up with him just because he was far away. Someone who wouldn’t make fun of me when I would rather stay in for a phone call than go out with a group.
When America declared war, I needed…
- someone who would reassure me that my boyfriend was well trained and ready for anything
- someone who wouldn’t start a political discussion
- a friend who would give me a hug and just let me cry
During his deployments, I needed…
- someone to invite me out for coffee, lunch, the movies… anything to stay distracted
- a military friend who understood the anxiety and low communication during deployments
- family members to visit and help with our children
- people to celebrate holidays with
- friends to invite me over to their house for a change of scenery
- someone to mow the lawn when I was pregnant
- someone to jump the car when the battery died
- someone who knew how to drive manual to keep his truck running
- someone I could call when I needed to go to the ER in the middle of the night
Every time we moved, I needed…
- someone to watch my kids on moving day
- a local friend to tell me about the area around base
- someone new who was eager to sign up for new activities
- someone who had lived there a while and knew how everything works on base
- a friend in the unit who understood the training schedule and could come with me to events
- someone to invite me to a moms group
- a new friend from church
When I had babies, I needed…
- someone to hold my hand in the hospital if my husband was deployed
- a friend to watch my toddler or other kids
- someone to bring me meals
- a friend to take pictures
- someone to help me clean my house
All along, I have had hundreds of friends and angels come in and out of my life. It is thanks to the kind and generous military wives I’ve met along the way that I have made it this far. I can’t be all of these things for everyone. But I can be some of these for someone. We all can. Look around you and you will see others who are younger or less experienced. Who can you be for them?