When first receiving the text to join them for breakfast, my mind reeled with excuses: I have this cough. It's the kids' first full week of school. I ate crawfish last night and now my pants don't fit. But instead I wrote back: Ok, I'm in.
The Military Spouse Group meets often for various things throughout the year. Sometimes socials, sometimes exercise, sometimes to unwind through designing wreaths and swapping numbers of babysitters who hang up wet towels.
Throughout the years, I've joined in. I've clinked glasses, read Book Club books, and traded stories of endless nights as new mothers while our husbands worked their way up the ranks at new duty stations. For the most part, it was always a good time.
But lately, I've not felt like joining in. I've (rudely) ignored invitations. I've hit the "maybe" button just to declare it a firm "no" the day of. I've driven to the function, joined in for an hour and made haste to leave less than an hour later.
I think because I've made assumptions. The wives here are so put together. One is a ballerina. Literally, she is a walking, talking, pixie-haired precious ballerina. Another takes pictures of babies that make you beg your ovaries for one more try. A few others have started their own businesses and are committed to their heart's work. The last one has a gorgeous British accent and rocks Athleta outfits like she has forgotten she's wearing clothes. I can never forget I'm wearing clothes. Mine are forever tugging, pulling, scooching, getting pinched somewhere too rude to re-situate in public. I remain, at all times, acutely aware of an underarm that's showing through a bell sleeve, or of a clasp driving a new bellybutton somewhere deep into my hip.
I assumed all these women weren't like me.
Yes, those are dog pajamas. I need an intervention.
So I said No way more than Yes. I reveled in No. Bragged to my non-military-spouse friends about the freedom of my No. Danced around my kitchen while those Together Girls had gatherings because No was so much more risque than Yes.
Then, the boomerang returned. The distance I created to empower myself with non-comparisons turned into a moat of disassociation. An island of women who move every two to four years, miss their family, and bleed Tricare were within reach and I pushed myself away because I didn't think I had my sh*t together. A large well of fellow moms deciding to pause their career clock, like me, and balance their family on the small of their back were nearby and here I've been, walking away from them with an empty bucket.
This morning that changed. Forcing myself into clothes that would gripe and fuss, I went to meet a large group of very
And when I got there, the moat shrunk. Our differences became laughable while our similarities beamed.
One spouse just moved here. She has three young kids, is a stay-at-home parent and is also a registered nurse. She told us a story about how she found out a bully was stealing her kindergartner's lunch midway through his first year of school. My mama blood ran hot just like hers as she retold the story. She dealt with the situation like a champ and we all applauded her instinct to investigate.
One mama mentioned her recent abstinence of social media and right away I went in for the gold. "Are you happier?" She lifted her gaze to mine and breathed a very full, "Yesss, so much happier" Hmmm, I might have to try this, New Happy Mom Lady.
I met a rescue freak mama just like me. Yes, her biceps and svelte yoga frame daunted me at first but before long we were chatting about her elderly beagle and the most efficient way to make food for a dog in kidney failure. She adds baked salmon.
My friend, the one who texted me last night, gave us all hope that teenagers do come back after the painful "I Hate You" years. Hers even lets her snuggle. At sixteen.
When it was time to go, I checked the time. Four hours had passed although it felt like one.
And I barely noticed that new bellybutton two inches away from my hip.