You know the phrase when it rains, it pours? Well, it might not rain in California, but for my husband and I, the move to the Golden State provided a torrential flood of new seasons, including navigating a new duty station, a new squadron, and a new baby, in the span of just two months.
Packed up in boxes, our Pensacola, Florida lives arrived at our cozy Southern California townhouse rental (with only a few things broken, thank you PCS movers) and we began the process of creating a home on a new coast where we knew precisely four people.
So, the husband threw himself into his first squadron since receiving his wings, HMLAT-303, and I mustered a passion for squadron life by going to exactly one spouse event. But, one event is quite a big deal for this reserved Texan girl who once went through an entire school day only to come home and realize she’d not said one word the entire day.
So walking into that Southern California home for that one spouse event was a big step for me, especially considering I knew no one. And, unfortunately, I left it feeling the same. In the organizer’s defense — it was an unusually large group for one event and every conversation I had was as shallow as San Diego’s tide pools. As I walked out the door, I told myself, “Great job sticking it out. Next month’s event will be better.”
But, let’s be honest. I didn’t go next month. Instead, I retreated to my introverted happy place of our townhouse. I worked from home, made dinner most nights, took mini trips to the beach for those golden sunsets, and sat out on our back patio watching for the neighbor’s cat to trespass. I had a good routine and an easy life. I even bought a bike.
Then a blue plus sign appeared and parenthood was suddenly on that golden horizon.
Being surprised with your first baby is definitely grounds for rocking a couple’s world. Throw in the new responsibilities of fleet squadron life, and a recent cross-country move leaving you 2,019 miles from the people that made your last duty station feel like a real home, and, well, that’s enough rocking to last this new baby’s lifetime.
Being a military spouse, I thought I’d conquered the art of rolling with the punches, but all these new seasons happening in such a short time just seemed too overwhelming.
That Was Before
That was before I confided in my husband and before he lovingly prodded me to push my social boundaries and meet other moms. That was before I heeded his advice and sought out the mothers in my just-budding social circles at church and in the squadron.
And what a gamechanger these actions were!
I forged a bond with multiple women in my church small group who also dealt with unpredictable pregnancies. I discovered how much gosh darn fun a game of Bunco can be with a bunch of Christmas-sweater-wearing military spouses. I swiped between multiple Facebook spouse/mother groups trying to find one that I could connect with like I was on some Mom version of Tinder.
I tried to learn the foreign language of Mom (i.e., binky, tummy time, jump-a-roo, and boppy pillow) during my pregnancy so that I didn’t sound dumb on some of these Tinder-like meetups with fellow mothers in the squadron.
Yes, all of this was uncomfortable in the beginning. It took work. Back in Florida, my life was rich, social, and full. But my rose-colored Pensacola glasses made me forget that I had to work at navigating that new duty station and phase of life too. Starting fresh in another new city with the knowledge that we would be staying here for the longest stint of our Marine Corps journey thus far was too intimidating.
The A-ha Moment
But, with every flutter of new life in my belly came the reminder that I needed friends — wise counsel, advice from fellow wives who knew what it felt like to start a brand new life (figuratively and quite physically) in an unfamiliar city. I needed to cultivate a community around me for pregnancy advice and impending motherhood. And I also needed to build these friendship foundations as a way to preemptively strike against deployments looming on the horizon.
With my closest family living 1,200 miles away, I needed to be able to rely on the support of those closest to me when it was time for baby — my community, my squadron.
Now, a year and a half since arriving in Southern California, I’m still not an expert in rolling with the punches. I’m still learning Mom language with each day. And, yes, I still get nervous before meeting up with another mom for the first time.
But, in navigating a new duty station and all new involved this time, I have also made another, once unfamiliar, city a home.
Photo Credits: Renee Dolan