On Friday night, I participated in a Bunco Night with ladies from our neighborhood. While don’t live on post, we’re still surrounded by a plethora of military families in our particular community. We have the best of both worlds – neighbors who ‘get it’ and the ability to live in house not contracted through military housing. Rolling the dice that night got me thinking – when I was the young wife of a second lieutenant, I would scoff at the idea of Hail & Farewells, coffee groups, the FRG, and stereotypical events such as Bunco, organized lunch dates, and Officer Spouses Clubs. But now that I am approaching 10 years of being associated with the military, I’ve come to appreciate the social aspect of having a husband who happens to be in the Army. Plus there is wine almost always served at such events…what’s not to love about that?
And interaction isn’t limited to face-to-face. I’ve been blogging since 2006 and have met some absolutely wonderful women in the military blogosphere. I have also been a member of a military-spouse online community since 2005 and have had the opportunity to meet some of them in person throughout the years. In fact, last night I went out to dinner in National Harbor with a group of women who I have ‘known’ for years. Even though we’ve been living in the digital age for quite some time, it still feels a bit silly to say “online friends” but we’ve witnessed (through the computer, at least) each other go through deployments, have children, PCS, and experience all the other life events that can make you go a little crazy without the support of ‘been there, done that’ wives.
While there is always a chance that I’ll encounter that wife (the rank-wearing, know-it-all, special Suzy Snowflake), I’ve found that the majority of the spouses I meet are just like me – just looking to meet people in order to stay sane while adjusting to yet another new place. I wish I could go back to 22-year-old Karen and tell her that the FRG isn’t an evil social empire that feeds off the vapid souls of rank-wearing participants. And I would tell her that unit/company coffees can be a fantastic way to get to know other women who are experiencing the long hours, field exercises, and deployments too. That’s not to say that drama-filled military social groups don’t exist (oh boy do they ever), but over the years I have learned to not judge from the outside and attend a couple of events before deciding whether or not that particular group is for me. And the most important lesson I’ve learned thus far? It’s far more difficult to navigate the waters alone.