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The 3 Am friend…..

When I joined my very first MOPs group in San Diego nearly 8 years ago, I was almost painfully introverted. The move from Mississippi to San Diego was our first PCS as a new family of three. I had no clue how to make friends in my new community.

I was shy and was afraid to put myself out there.  A stay-at-home mom with a 7-month-old son, I hadn’t yet developed the ability to adapt and maneuver around a new duty station in the way that more experienced military spouses did. 

But my family was far away in the Midwest, and my husband had a deployment on the horizon. I knew that if I wanted to enjoy our time in San Diego, I had to stop hiding. I had to find a way to make some friends.

 

Joining a MOPs group (recently re-branded as The MomCo) was the first big step I took towards setting myself up for success as a new mom in a new place.

 

It wasn’t my first leap into the unknown, (military spouse, remember?) but it was, in some ways, the most personal. My heart was in my throat when I walked into my first MOPs meeting, and sat at my assigned table.

I was terrified. Putting myself out there to find new friends was one of the hardest things I’d ever done at that point.  Luckily for me, it also turned out to be one of the most rewarding. Friendship is a gift that keeps on giving, in wonderful and sometimes surprising ways. 

 

MOPs led me to my tribe.

 

We weren’t all military spouses, but many were. San Diego was full of sailors, after all. My table was a wonderful group of genuine women, all searching for the same thing that I was: an honest connection.

We wanted to be with people who understood us, appreciated us, and didn’t shy away from the chaos that military life often dropped into our laps. 

One of the tenants from that first season of MOPs was something that I’ve taken to every duty station since then, and one that has formed a term for something we all hope to find when we face a new PCS…..

 

The 3 AM friend. 

 

As the name implies, the 3 AM friend is someone that you can call in the dead of night when things go wrong. Someone that will pick up the phone without hesitation, even when half-asleep.

They’re always on your team, ready to jump off the sidelines and into the game with barely a moment’s notice.

When a tire goes flat, the babysitter cancels, or an unexpected deployment is announced, you can count on them to help you figure it out. 

 

The 3 AM friend symbolizes the epitome of military spouse friendships. 

 

They meet you where you are, even when you’re in the weeds, in a sour mood, and resent needing their help in the first place. They continue to show up, and try to take things off your precariously piled plate.

They know first-hand how difficult the pressures of a military spouse can be, and they stand ready to help you bear some of the weight. 

We’re all searching for that kind of friendship, especially in a new duty station. Finding that person is part of settling into your new community; having someone to rely on, especially when your spouse can’t be at home, relieves some of the pressure and anxiety that comes along with all the changes.

If you’re lucky enough to have already found that type of friendship at your current duty station, then you can help spread the love by reaching out and becoming that person for someone else. 

The best part about 3 AM friends is that they can step into that role for more than one person. That’s just who they naturally tend to be: the helpers, givers of their time and attention, who value hospitality and inclusion. 

 

And thank goodness for them. 

 

When you’re far from home, struggling through work-ups or deployments, wondering how you’re going to make it through to the next day, let alone the next month… talk to your 3 AM friend.

Lean on them, just a little bit. You wouldn’t hesitate to do it for them, right? 

If you’re not sure whether you have found that kind of friendship yet, don’t worry. It’s right around the corner. Keep showing up, just like I did on the morning of that first MOPs meeting. Sit down at the table. Smile at the women sitting with you. 

One of them could be the person who changes the tone of your whole experience in an unfamiliar place.

One of them could be the person who starts to make it feel like home. 

 

 

* For more posts from Kaci, visit her M:M Author Page, or check out MOPS!

 

 

Author

  • Kaci Curtis

    Kaci Curtis is a Navy spouse and mom of two. Her family relocated to the tropical island of Guam over the summer. She now spends her time washing beach towels, rinsing snorkeling masks, and helping crabs get over curbs. When she’s able, she adds a dash of reading, writing, hiking, and lifting at the gym.Originally from Missouri, she has moved 5 times in the last decade, and she somehow made it through four deployments in a tumultuous four year period. Things slowed down a bit at their previous duty station (Mississippi), where the family enjoyed a farmhouse on 5 wooded acres. They raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, pigs, and also kept 2 goats, a cow, a donkey,and a Shetland pony. Naturally, they decided to add a second human child to the mix, and turned it loose into the barnyard as soon as possible. She considers herself lucky to have published several essays and short stories. You can find her writer page on FB (@KCurtisWriter)

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Supporting Our Military Children

Supporting Our Military Children

One thing that has been most important to me, as a military spouse, is figuring out how to best do this life while supporting our children with the changes and difficulties. When my children were very small, there were many times that my husband was away, and I had to parent my children alone.

Mission: Milspouse is a
501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

EIN Number: 88-1604492

Contact:

hello@missionmilspouse.org

P.O. Box 641341
El Paso, TX 79904

 

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