by Rebecca Alwine, Guest Contributor
In the last 10 years, I’ve gone from incredibly naive military spouse to eager to get involved to I’m about done with this.
There are some days, I hop on the local spouse group (on Facebook) and I’m excited to see all of the new faces. Some brand new to the military and others just got orders to this duty station. I’m eager to help answer their questions, trying to frame my responses in a way that helps and isn’t too one-sided. I offer suggestions, personal experiences and resources.
Other days, I want to scream
“10 people posted about that yesterday”
“Ask your service member!”
For the record, I never respond like that.
Though sometimes I veil it writing this:
“So and so just asked about this, here’s the post and the great responses they got.”
Then it hits me.
This is how we make friends. This is reaching out. This is where scared, lost, intimidated and oftentimes frustrated new military spouses go to try to make their world right.
And I can help.
I can help by offering suggestions, resources and experiences, in a warm and understanding tone. I can help by commenting with a simple “Welcome!” when they say they’ve just arrived. I can take the military traditions of calling cards and welcome dinners and transform it into an online community where everyone feels welcome and valued.
I’m passing along the most important lesson I’ve learned as a military spouse – Pay it forward.
Ten years ago when I was new, scared and alone in Germany, my FRG leader walked over to my house and introduced herself. She made it a point to invite me to things, even when I said no 3 times before. She never made me feel like I was interrupting or encroaching on family time. I absolutely believe that her friendship, combined with the other women I met over those 3 years, are what kept me sane.
I want to be that friendship for someone else.
I don’t have all the answers.
I don’t want to have all the answers.
I just want to know how to help you find them.
Please, don’t think that I’m spouting off information to gain popularity or to make it look like I know everything.
I want us to succeed. I want military spouses to have the information that they need to be successful. I want them to learn the resources that are available.
And, perhaps most importantly, I want them to be comfortable passing that information on.
Because one day, I’m not going to be relevant anymore. The awesome roller coaster of military spouse life will end for me.
When it ends, I don’t want to be missed. I want to leave behind a better military spouse community than I joined. I want everyone to be focused on helping each other, sharing information and welcoming the newcomers.
Do you want to join me?
Rebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, Army wife, and mother of 3. Over the past 10 years, she’s discovered she enjoys coffee, running, lifting weights, and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found hiding behind the sewing machine or with her nose in a book. Follow her on Instagram.