Last night I attended an event that is part of a week long tradition among the Engineer Regiment. As part of military life and regimental week here on Fort Leonard Wood, military spouse events are as much a part of the weeks powerful lineup as the laying of the wreath ceremony, best sapper competition or the Regimental Ball. And this years Engineer Spouses Night Out didn’t disappoint.
While the event was full of laughter and fun it was so much more than that for me – it was a wake up call that I didn’t even know I needed. Up until last night I hadn’t realized that since we PCS’d here to Ft Leonard Wood that I’d been disconnected from the spouse community. Sure I have my online spouse community and I travel to installations regularly to speak, but without realizing it, I was missing the most important thing. The thing that helps me keep it together and prevents me from fraying at the edges. I was missing my local peeps.
I was missing the glue.
It’s easy to get caught up in work and home life believing that online connections are a strong enough support system to get us through military life. But last night showed me that a quick messenger conversation or a comment reply convo are NOT a substitute for the laughter and camaraderie that happens only with in-person contact.
At one point during the evening, as part of a game, each table was asked to describe their engineer. All of us around the table began to spit out descriptions, adjectives, quirks and sayings about our soldiers that had us high-fiving and smiling. Instantly there was a bond of understanding and acceptance that only military spouses can understand – a silent acknowledgement that we “get it”.
Over simple conversations about our lives we shared ourselves, connected and stepped away from the stress and chaos of our daily lives. At one point I learned that the woman across from me had a son getting ready to graduate from college – her baby was truly leaving the nest and she was struggling with the transition. A retired spouse shared so much just by being there – as if she was letting us know that this is a forever type of family. And a veteran spouse who had been here less than a month reminded us all how important it is to create your tribe early on.
None of those realizations were part of the verbal conversations, each of us just got the message loud and clear in a way that only being in the same space can do.
The military spouse is the glue that holds military community together. We are the backbone, the compass and all those other sayings that mean we are responsible for keeping things moving forward. We motivate, inspire and support our service member so they can do their job. We need to keep it together in order to do just that and the best way to do just that is to bond with people who get your life, surround yourself with people who see the good parts and the uniqueness that comes with this lifestyle.
Who/What is the glue helping you keep it together?
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