This time’s different. I am staring down the barrel of 12 months on my own with the kids. The countdown to February is almost as bad as the loneliness will be once it gets here. I know that my saving grace will be having friends - if only I can find enough noncrazy ones. Luckily I have two friends already that we were stationed in Colorado with back when Aidan was a baby. It’s so nice to have that comfort and safety net. I just wish they lived nextdoor. I have been spoiled by living in England. Some of the best friends of my life were our neighbors in Watchfield. It was so easy with them – kids the same ages, no judgement, common parenting. Friendship was inevitable and I’m sure will be long lasting. The hard part now is realizing that not everyone wants to be friends right off the bat.
In the world of military wives there are a few questions you ask right away – and no one takes offense.
- How old are your kids? If they are within a year or two either way everyone gets excited for new playmates.
- Where did you move from and where else have you been stationed? This way you can figure out who you know in common – kind of military facebooking.
- What does your husband do/what unit is he in? It’s a good way to find out if your husband and hers will work together or if he works with someone that you know.
- Where are you from and where did you go to school. A way to find out if you have common interests or backgrounds or if she thinks you mean high school when you say school.
It’s much easier to get all of that out of the way early on instead of taking months to get acquainted. Once this is all out of the way things can get more personal quickly. Your neighbor would pick your kid up at the bus stop or pull your trash can in with no questions asked. She knows that she’s going to need you one day so there’s no point in keeping score – it all comes out even in the end anyway.
Non-military women are a little harder to figure out. No one seems to want to move too fast – I guess I can understand that. But really I don’t have 2 years to become good acquaintances or 5 years to become friends. If I see you at nursery school pick up 3 times a week I will talk to you each time – but if you turn and go the other way when you see me I will get the hint and move along. I’m not wasting time or getting my feelings hurt.
Aidan and Emmy have also had big transitions. They’ve both started school already and have settled in well, apparently. Emmy’s teacher told me that if she had a class of all Emmys she would be the happiest person on Earth. I looked at her like she had three heads and said, “If I had a house full of Emmys I would kill myself.” She laughed like I was kidding. I am glad, however, that Emmy knows that she is to be well behaved in public – I have, at least, done that right. The months of dealing with fits in public have paid off, I guess. She came home today and told me her teacher said she was a “smart cookie” and then she giggled – a cookie!? How cute. Aidan’s back to school afternoon is tomorrow and I’m excited to see how everything is going there. I feel disconnected from his schooling this year. He leaves on the bus at 8am and comes home on the bus at 3:45pm. I’ve resisted the urge to pick him up at school because I know he’s benefiting from being on the bus. Controlled independence is always good in my book. If it feels just a little uncomfortable for me than it’s probably the right thing for him.
Aoife is also going through a big transition time. She has started walking well since we moved in a month ago and is now on the move all the time. I weaned her completely 5 days ago and she didn’t seem to notice until last night. It was like it all of a sudden occurred to her that she hadn’t nursed in a while. For the first time in about a year she cried as she was going to bed. It didn’t last long but it was long enough to make me question if I was doing the right thing. Should I have waited and done it completely on her terms or did I do the right thing making it on my terms? She is plenty old enough to not be nursing but there’s always regret. The agony of motherhood – no one ever tells you about these things.
If there’s one thing I know for certain is that EVERYTHING will improve. We will get more comfortable and settled in. We will get to know our neighbors better. The weather will cool down and we will be able to sit on our front yard and drink wine while the kids play with their friends. School will continue to go well and they will all get bigger, more independent and more fun. We will make it through the year with Brendan in Afghanistan. It won’t be fun but the time will pass and he will come back home into the chaos that is our life.