Dear Military: Thank You For The Friendships

group of friends laughing
By Nappy in People

Parenting is a series of highs and lows. The unbelievable, joy-filling highs, and the heartbreaking, world-altering lows of parenting cannot be replaced.

  • When we found out that the twins were boys: super high.
  • The time we let our kids cry it out in sleep training: low.
  • The first time the boys hugged my neck without being prompted: high.
  • The time they both threw a tantrum at Walmart and I had to abandon my cart and leave: low, low, low.

But like everything in life, the ebb and flow of highs and lows melt together to become what we look back on and see as our parenting journey. And nothing makes those low moments more bearable than being surrounded by good friendships with other mothers and parents who have been there, done that. Being around a village of people who have walked in our tired footsteps and can offer the sound advice that “it’s all going to be okay” is invaluable.

group of friends laughing
By Nappy in People

Finding a community, a village or a tribe can be a challenge to any new mom. But for military spouses, this struggle is exponentially harder.

I sometimes find myself looking at Facebook or Instagram photos of people from home who have never had to leave the comfort of old friendships, our small town, or their families; I often feel envious of the community they have basically never had to seek out. I sometimes long to give up this military lifestyle and plant roots somewhere so we can keep “our tribe” for more than a couple of months or years at a time.

However, these people who have grown yet stayed in the same place don’t know the richness of what military friendships can bring.

In our almost five-year marriage, we have lived in four different states and six different houses. It’s no wonder that people ask us often for our address. We can never seem to stay in the same place for too long. But I think there’s also hidden beauty in that.

military friendships

Maintaining sustainable relationships and building community has become a sort of art form for us in recent years. Yes, it can be difficult at times, especially when you’re exhausted from being up all night with a sick child. But it’s always worth it.

After being nomads for so long, we have figured out how to find and make community fast. We’ve learned how to spot our people from the first hello, and we know what it’s like to make friends that feel like home. We’ve learned what it means to have a community that drops everything for you when you need it most. We’ve weathered new parenthood, deployments, and health crises with the communities we’ve built.

It’s true that when hard times hit or last minute plans get changed, we can’t just call our moms or our longtime best friends like most people can.

two women hanging off front of truck
Taken by Greg Raines

But we’ve learned to trust our gut with new people. We skip the long months of friendship courting and jump right into being fast friends. Who really has the time to see each other once every three weeks in between school drop-offs and nap times and call it a friendship? Military friendships force you to skip the normal, slow friendship progression and push you straight into seeing each other four days a week while your kids play.

Regardless of whether these friendships become long lasting, they do become life giving during their season, and we invest deeply into those relationships while we can. Because what we’ve learned with the military is that things happen quickly, people move away, and you have to make use of the time you have together.

So yes, I do find myself envious of people of those outside of the military community.

Those who have been able to maintain friendships with people from their childhood and then turn around and live down the street from each other while their kids play. But military life has taught us so much, and learning how to build our own village with every move has given us some of the richest friendships we could have ever imagined.

With every new city, every new state, and every new group of people, we realize that this military lifestyle has given us so much more than it’s taken.

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Gerry Langan
Gerry has southern roots and a southern accent to boot, hailing from North Carolina, she is a full-time stay-at-home-mom to twin boys and a part-time marketing guru during naptime and bedtime. Her husband is a Blackhawk Pilot for the Army Reserves, and they currently call Saint Petersburg, Florida home. She prides herself on being a storyteller by nature, and always looking at the mess that life throws at them with a laugh. She keeps her sanity by being a pulmonary hypertension patient advocate on social media (@_gllangan), posting about the honest highs and lows of this wild motherhood ride, and giving people a little insight into what life is like with twin toddlers. When she's not chasing her boys around, Gerry enjoys iced coffee at all times of the day and watching one of her many TV shows.