This is how I feel every time new people move into our neighborhood on a military base. I want to run over to their house and shout all of this:
“Welcome to the neighborhood! We saw your moving van pull up yesterday. The house has been empty for over a month now, so we were wondering who would come live there.
I can’t wait to meet you and learn more about you. We could use some fresh energy and talent here. What parts of the country have you lived in? Are you interested in running, cooking, reading, or crafting? Do you like to volunteer? Do you have a home business? I just hope it’s not LulaRoe, because we already have tons of them around here!
I don’t know you yet, but I’m sure we have a lot in common. After all, both our husbands serve in the same branch of the military. Like me, you have probably had your fair share of moves, deployments, last-minute changes in plans, and job searches. I know you have a 3-bedroom house, so I wonder if your kids are the same ages as mine? If you live in this neighborhood, our husbands are probably similar rank. But that is a taboo topic for wives, so we will politely avoid the topic until our husbands start spying on each other while in uniform to figure it out.New neighbors in base housing: we won't ask rank, just spy on each other. Click To Tweet
I’ve moved enough times to know how hard it is to start over in a new neighborhood. I know that those first few days are frantic and frustrating. You need everything and you don’t know a single person to ask for help. I want to be one of the first helpful people you meet. I will be happy to point you in the direction of the Commissary, or tell you where the school bus stops. I will lend you some milk, or a cup of flour, or even my washing machine if you need to do laundry. I will watch your kids while you unpack. I don’t mind, really! I have 4 kids of my own, so adding more into the mix is easier than you may imagine. I want to help this move go smoothly for you. You just need to ask.Der New Neighbor: I want to help, but you have to ask. Click To Tweet
But I also know how awkward it is to ask for help. I’ve been there, desperately needing help, and wishing that I could ask some of the well-adjusted people around me for advice and assistance. But I don’t want to admit that we don’t have any lawn care tools. Or that I don’t know what the local grocery store chains are named. I don’t want to ask a random stranger I met on the playground if I can use her name on the school emergency contact form. So, like you, I have put on a brave face and said “everything is going well.”
So here’s the deal: We don’t have to become best friends, but I hope that we can be friendly neighbors who help each other out. I’ll start. I’ve been keeping a batch of cookies in the freezer, knowing that someone would move in soon. They are for you… as long as my children don’t eat them or smash them first. Someone once made cookies for me, and their kindness got me through the first week of a challenging PCS. I am happy to pay it forward to you.
In return, here is all I ask:
- Please be patient with my kids. They play outside a lot. And they are loud. I know this, that’s why they are outside in the first place.
- Please don’t judge me. I am a normal mom who has good and bad days, just trying to get through this military life. I’m sure we do some things differently and have different opinions. That’s fine, we can still be friends as long as we don’t judge each other.
- Please give me your cell phone number. I may need to call you one day to help me out. I will do the same for you.
- And finally, please don’t let your dogs bark all day. Everyone in this neighborhood has 2 dogs. It can get pretty noisy if they are all left alone outside.”
That’s what I want to say. But what do I actually do? I politely wait a day or two for them to get settled, then I stop by with a plate of cookies, and chat for a few minutes while my kids ask a million questions. I hope they can read between the lines, and take me up on my offer of “let me know if you need anything.” If I am lucky, our children will play together later. If not, then we may not talk much for the next two years. Who knows? It could go either way.