As the holiday season has progressed, I've gotten lots of Christmas cards and Facebook messages from all over the world. Not surprising, since I've been married to a sailor for nearly 18 years. It is always interesting to explain to my kids, "Well, when we lived in (blank), this family (lived/worked/played) with (mom/dad/kid). Since I've been writing here at SpouseBUZZ, there are also cards from my SpouseBUZZ family, and I say, "You know Miss Sarah. We had lunch with her at a Cracker Barrel once when we were driving home from Grandmom and Granddad's house."
If you look at the SpouseBUZZ authors as a group, we might seem to be a best-friends-since-elementary-school, all-of-a-kind family. We do have a lot in common - we are all military spouses, and we all try to remain better even when life makes us want to be bitter. We also, for the most part, barely know each other. There are SpouseBUZZ authors I've never met, and most of them I only see at SpouseBUZZ Live events. It is a rare occasion when some of us get together, and we're never all in one place at the same time. We have political, religious, parenting and life views all over the planet. (Don't even get me started on our fashion sense!)
With so many differences, it seems like it would be hard to pull together a cohesive group, but a cohesive group it is. I consider these people some of my best friends (much to my husband's concern, or confusion, or whatever it is that he is thinking.) Why?
I can't say for sure, but I think it because we have chosen to be there for each other. My SpouseBUZZ friends, authors and readers alike, tend to be compassionate, helpful people. The fact that our relationships exist primarily over the internet isn't important to me. We encourage each other, share the ups and downs of life, and help each other whenever possible. With a nice big group, there is always someone with energy, or enthusiasm, or experience, or a willing ear.
When you enter the military spouse world, there are often pre-made groups that are supposed to provide support. Maybe it is a Family Readiness Group, or a Spouses' Club, or some other group. If that pre-made group works for you, that is excellent and I encourage you to take advantage of it. However, if time, distance or personalities make the official groups impossible or unpleasant for you, please don't hesitate to look around and build your own support system. It might be other moms from your child's preschool class, or the stay-at-home parents in your neighborhood, or a group from your church. It might even be near-strangers that you come to know over the internet. (Of course, be smart and cautious!) Building a network of friends helps make life that much sweeter and allows you to share yourself with others, as well.
Not sure where to start? I'd give the official support groups a try, if there is one available to you. After that, start by talking to the people you meet during your days. You might have to make a little effort if your life is a little solitary. Small kids? Track down a Mom's group. If you go to church or temple or whatever, check there. Heck, when I had just one child, I used to take her to the playground solely in the hope that there would be another adult there. Are you on Facebook? See what your high school friends are up to - you might be amazed at how much you have in common now.
Building a solid community can be a little daunting, but it is so worth the effort.
photo by tobyotter