Last week I was talking to my sister about how when she was in the military and also had been a military wife. It was hard to make friends. Especially in her case where they were constantly moving. She was talking to me about how she was excited about a new friendship. It was good to hear that because it wasn’t long when that was all I wanted. A GOOD friend. And we both talked about how that is something fire wives also face. My sister said, “…you should write about this in your blog.” And she was totally right! So, here I am. Let’s talk about friendship in the fire life.
I remember there was a long period of time when it seemed as if no one understood or seemed to care about this fire wife life I lead. Or at least that’s what I allowed myself to believe. As a fire wife sometimes I have felt the expectation of having to have it all together and not be able to let anyone in enough to say I was struggling. I turned to family a lot to talk to but even then they didn’t fully understand that I just needed an ear and not a solution. I needed someone to not explain to me my husband’s job and that he was just doing what he needed to do. I also, didn’t need someone who was afraid to invite or not invite me because well I may be flying solo. Or a friend who would even want to take the time to truly understand the fire life. I am not going to sugar coat how hard it is to find those friends, those people fire family or not who just get it, understand, and are there for you no questions asked. The friends who truly care. This I have found to be rare and hard to find.
I think about how different yet similar it was when I was working, to now as a stay at home mom. When I was working I had this purpose and adult conversation. I still see some of my customers from time to time and will catch up. After work before kids I could really just do whatever and was able to keep myself busy enough to allow the time to go by faster. But, also looking back there was never that constant friend who stuck it out or I felt fully understood the fire life. I didn’t know too many other fire wives yet either. We were married young. I felt I kind of fell into a different category with people my own age. Around the time of having my first kid, maybe a little before that is when I started to make some good friends, mom friends. I worked part time with my first daughter so a lot of my time I was catching up at home. But, made time to hang out with some other moms. Fast forward to after having my second daughter and being a stay at home mom. It all happened during the time of my husband being gone a lot with his long commute. I have talked about this commute a lot before. I wasn’t only adjusting to the life with two kids but a life where I did not have a job. I had always worked since I was fifteen. I did not realize the difference of having an adult conversation can make and having something that was “my thing” or gave me that sense I was contributing and had a purpose. Both working mom and stay at home mom were not without their hardships. So, for a while I felt like I was figuring out my life again and who I was. Being a stay at home mom is so much harder then I have ever thought it would be but am so very thankful we are able to make it work. I truly was and am thankful for the few friends who really understood. And ironically almost all of them fire wives.
Something I have discovered in making a friend is the ones who seem to be my closest friends are the ones where I put myself out of my comfort zone to make. About a year after moving to my home I am now I met one of my closest friends. Her and her family were outside by the corner of my property fixing a sign. My husband wasn’t home but I was tired of waiting for him to be home and it working out to introduce ourselves to all our neighbors. When I saw this little family I told my girls to get their shoes on and we were going to go out and meet some of our neighbors. I am so glad I did. We have become so close and not just her and I our whole families. Something else that I feel is hard is finding those couples both you and your husband really enjoy spending time with. I know now we were all a little hesitant but I also know we are all thankful for the friendship we have found in each other. And through them we have made a couple of other friends as well.
It is truly a hard thing to get caught up in the no one understands what I am going through thoughts. That feeling of not having someone who says “if you need anything let me know” and actually mean it. The fire wife life can be a lonely one at times and even our fellow fire wives can be hard to always turn to because they may be going through their own trials. I know for me the more time I isolated myself the less friends I was able to hold on to. I encourage you though to not let that discouragement keep you from always trying and meeting new friends. Strike up those random conversations and be yourself. the friends who are meant to be will eventually find their way to you. And don’t be afraid to be the the kind of friend you want. I am thankful for the friendships I have now. These friendships make all the difference. So if that’s something you’re struggling with keep praying. I have faith it will work out. And don’t let fear keep you from finding a new purpose. You are never truly alone that is only something we allow ourselves to believe.
“That’s when I realized what a true friend was. Someone who would always love you-the imperfect you. The confused you, the wrong you-because that is what people are supposed to do. -r.j.l.
“An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.” —Ancient Chinese Belief