Once upon a time, what feels like a lifetime ago, this was an exciting time.
A time to imagine a new beginning, a new start, a new place to call our own. It was just the two of us, a couple of star crossed lovers taking on the world. Living in a new place, a new house, meeting new people and seeing new places. It all brought great excitement and anticipation. It was a fun time, PCS season… The excitement of orders being around the corner, finally learning where we were headed and rushing off to google the local area and possible houses and neighborhoods. Packing it all up, shoving ourselves into a car, and driving off into the sunset. Then arriving to our new home and exploring restaurants, and walking down town… Oh what an adventure. It was really fun…
But that time has long passed it seems. Because at our last dutty station, something new happened. We started a family. And that was our new adventure. Or new tiny family member brought us so much joy and happiness that it’s difficult to imagine a life before her smiling face, and soon we were engulfed into the life of mom and dad.
As it so turns out, the life of mom and dad is quite different from the life of husband and wife.
Going from relatively carefree, well rested adults, to responsible fairly tired parents made us (in time) realize how important your support system is. As the main caregiver for our daughter, I happily and loyally went from the library, to baby music classes, to play dates each and every day. Enjoying the company of several new mothers I met along the way. I didn’t know it then, but these women were the glue that were keeping me together. Their friendship and support gave me a sensation of safety and security in motherhood that I took for granted.
Not only that, but we also happened to be a very short flight away from our island home, Puerto Rico. Both my husband’s and my own family could visit us comfortably and often. What a lovely (and comfortable!) support system it was.
When PCS season came about, those feelings of excitement were there once again. I had no reason to feel any differently at that point, moving had always been fun. But as we packed up our new family to move half way across the globe I didn’t realize that I couldn’t pack with me the glue that had been holding me up, my support system, my village.
There were many difficult goodbyes, but none so painful than saying goodbye to our dear friends Kelly and Little Miss O. I met Kelly the first day I left the house with Little Lue by myself to do a “mommy and baby” thing. I needed to get out of the house, I needed to DO something, and somehow ended up at the local library for a Mommy and Me Story Time. And there was Kelly with Little Miss O, just like us, fresh new moms, it took but a minute to realize we would be friends.
I met so many of the dearest and most wonderful moms that very day.
I had no idea how special those days would be, but they will live forever in my heart. My first village. I can’t count the coffee dates or play dates, there were too many.
When it was time to move, I couldn’t pack up my village, I had to leave that behind… When we moved to Germany I knew what I had to do. I needed to find a new park, a new coffee date, a new village. For whatever delusional reason, I thought this would be easy… It wasn’t.
Germany would prove to be cold, and wet, and unwelcoming to summer creatures such as ourselves. Both my husband and I felt ourselves being drained of energy and joy from the lack of sunshine and warmth. It would take us well over a year to fall into a routine that worked for everyone and just as long to meet new friends and reach a level of trust and comfort that brings that sense of safety and community.
It’s been 3 years since our move, and I just barely feel like I’ve scraped together my new village, and now, I have to say good bye. I have to leave them behind and start over, and sadly, they might have to start over too. Because that’s the other thing, not only did I loose my village, but so did the friends who were left behind. For those left behind it’s one less person who will show up at your door on the bad days, one less person who will meet you at the park and hang out for hours of play, one less person who will be your company for lunch with crazy loud kids in toe, one less person to call when you just need an adult conversation after endless days of house work and wiping dirty bottoms.
These friends are literally gold.
They’re the reason happy moms exists, and the reason not so happy moms make it to the next day.
The thought of moving, and living without a village… yet again… for who knows how long… has taken all the joy and adventure our of PCS season. I don’t want to say goodbye again. I don’t want to start over again.
As incredibly wonderful as family life is, it is immensely more wonderful when you have a BIG family. A family of friends and neighbors and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins. A family to share the fun times with and the not so fun times with. A family that helps each other and cares for each other. A family you can call on when the days are long and both mom and dad are too tired to put on a smile at the end of the day.
As a military family, we are first robed of the family we left back home, of our mothers and grandmothers and brothers and sisters who would have been there as our primary aid. And with the constant flow of the community we are also often robbed of the support of our dearest friends, who come into your life like a bast of love and warmth and fun and joy, and then they go… Leaving a gigantic crater where their wonderful company used to be.
It seems that this PCS season, I have accumulated quite a few more craters, and my heart is starting to look a bit like swiss cheese…
Despite my desire to move to a warmer, more welcoming climate, I have carved out my village here in Germany. Knowing now what life is like without a village, even if only temporarily, I know that leaving Germany will be no less painful than leaving Key West.
Still deep in the trenches of parenting young children, I need my village… a lot.
We will pack up our lives once again, only this time I’m well aware of what I cannot take with me. I cannot pack up my village, I will have to create a new one. Knowing this, I start to brace myself for a few months of lonely long days. Of awkward park days of recognizing no faces or names. Of sipping coffee alone with my rambunctious littles. Of joining groups and meet ups and not knowing why I’m there. Of putting on a friendly face while my insides are filled with anxiety and exhaustion. Of saying hello and yes to every new opportunity because trying is better than not trying. Of clinging to dear life to my marriage, because even on the worse days, my spouse is my only support and friend.
I beg my husband for patience.
For a few months, I wont have the relaxing and re-energizing effects that my village brings. I will become a cranky, tired, and stressed out version of myself. I will be anxious and lonely and extremely needy of kind words and understanding. I won’t have much energy for smiling at the end of the day…
But maybe between a cuddle at the end of the day, and our daughter’s smiling faces, and hopefully some warmer, sunnier weather… maybe I’ll make it thought this PCS season and saying goodbye to another village, and maybe, just maybe, be able to enjoy some of the adventure of starting something new.