Deployment Series: Friendship
When I mapped out this monthly deployment series, I assigned myself topics to write on in no particular order: Introduction, technology,meal planning, and anxiety. You can imagine my surprise when I turned the calendar to November and saw that friendship was on the agenda.
When you hear people throwing around that phrase,“Friendsgiving.” I couldn’t have planned this any better if I had tried.
Now, I have some of the best friends imaginable: funny, smart, loyal, honest, thoughtful. And a few of them I have known since Kindergarten. But they do not live anywhere near us. Military life can be like that. Our kids are friends with their kids and we get together a couple times a year for slumber parties and we just never stop talking until it’s time to say goodbye again. These are my friends for a lifetime and I’m grateful everyday for them.
During a deployment or any kind of temporary separation with your service member, it’s vital to have at least a couple of local friends you can count on for help with the kids, a listening ear or to drag your behind to an exercise class when you’ve been holed up on the couch for too long (or so I’ve heard).
I used to attend MOPS when my kids were younger and one time a guest speaker talked to us young mommas about friendship. She said, “there are friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime.” I used to think the only friends worth having were “friends for a lifetime,” but time has shown me that all three types of friendships are valuable and necessary.
Friends for a Season
We all have those memories of a snapshot in time where you can’t even picture your life without the friends who shared in your day-in and day-out.
For me, I think back to college and also to my kids’ preschool years. I had a tight group of gals who I lived with in college, and even though we don’t see each other much these days, we absolutely helped each other through those formative years of our early twenties. Same goes for being a young mama. I was fortunate to have found a group of women who met regularly for playdates, birthday parties and moms’ night out at the Melting Pot. These friends were sanity savers in my world of diaper changes, sippy cups and Goldfish crackers.
My kids are older now and we have moved away from these friends (#PCS) and I find myself in a new season. But still in need of friends to help navigate the teen years, share carpool to soccer, and laugh with until our faces hurt.
The scenery and cast of characters may change, but the human need for friendship persists.
Deployment Battle Buddies
This is especially true during a deployment when you don’t have your significant other coming through the door each evening, ready to hear all about your day and share the emotional load of parenting. Sure, video chatting is available and you can talk to your lifetime friends on the phone, but there is no substitute for in-person, daily friends in this season.
For me, this meant taking a risk on a few acquaintances. I had made some friends at our new duty station, but not come over unannounced and we’ll sit on the couch and watch T.V. and drink wine until 10 pm kind of friends.
When I started to open up and invite a friend to lunch or her family over for dinner, something shifted. I sensed that familiar comfort of knowing I had a squad, a tribe, a village, whatever you want to call it. I had support and could go to bed knowing that a friend was not only a phone call away, she was literally only a few doors away. And this made all the difference during deployment.
There will likely be a time when I don’t live near these friends anymore (#PCS). But I will forever look back on this season with a grateful heart for the women who showed up for me on a daily basis. They are equally valuable as my “friends for a lifetime.”
Wherever you find yourself today, I encourage you to band together with a few friends who can share in the daily load of raising kids or simply navigating your current season of life. I’m pretty sure that some of these “friends for a season” will turn out to be “friends for a reason” and ultimately “friends for a lifetime,” but you need to start somewhere.
And, if you’re like me, and don’t quite have enough to fill a table for 12 at a #friendsgiving this month, it’s enough to simply be thankful for the handful of friends you can count on day in and day out in your current season.