I love San Antonio because it feels just like home. Everywhere you look there’s a homey sort of feeling that makes you want to sit down and stay awhile. To be honest, I cannot say the same for every military installation where we have been stationed, but there’s just something about San Antonio that feels right. While living here, I have made the largest group of non-military friends in my entire 8.5 years as a military spouse. With non-military friends always comes the hard conversations regarding moving (or PCSing, if you really know your lingo). A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is inevitable if you’ve made friends with a military spouse or Soldier/Airman/Marine, etc. I’ve had a lot of these hard conversations lately because, well, we’re moving next month. And because this is my largest non-military group of friends, they have all been asking me the same thing: how to support and help us during the moving process. And since PCSing is pretty high on the stress meter for military families, I wanted to share some advice on how to come alongside your military friends when they’re moving.
1. See Us Off Early
Here’s the thing—we want to see you. We want our kids to have playdates. We want to have a proper goodbye. But something kind of crazy happens when you’re moving with the military. Even though people know for actual months that you are moving away, it is only in the last two weeks or so that people start coming out of the woodworks to spend time with you. And let me tell you, the last two weeks: that is not the time, friend. It is insane. We are dealing with scheduling packers and movers and trying to get medical details finalized. We are purging and organizing and trying to prep our entire lives to be moved across the country. And as much as we want to see you—it’s hard to make it happen. I like to schedule friends for a playdate or a coffee date or an evening walk in our last two months in a city. The earlier we can get some quality time together, the better! Too many times we have been forced to say “no” to a get-together too close to the move, and it’s always so hard. So let’s make plans, but let’s make them early!
2. Get These Kids Up Outta My House
This is very real—and it will require the most from you. And I won’t ask you to take my kids on the day the packers and loaders are at our house—but if you offer, I will 100% take you up on it. If you’ve never had 3–8 strangers walking in and out of your house, wrapping up all your possessions and putting them in boxes, you should know: it’s not a kid-friendly situation. I have to be totally focused on what’s happening, because the reality is, if I don’t ask for things to be packed or wrapped in a certain way, items will likely be broken in the move. There are also lots of horror stories about things being stolen. If my kids are not present during all of this mayhem, it takes a huge weight off. Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a three-year-old watch strangers enter his home and throw every single one of his most prized possessions in a box—it’s not a pretty sight. There are lots of tears. It’s much easier to manage expectations when you can tell the kids what they’ll be coming home to and they don’t have to watch the nitty-gritty of it actually happening. So yes, if you could keep my kids on the day that’s happening, it would be more help than you know.
3. Why Yes, We Would Love a Meal, a Chair, or a Few Toys
Remember, our entire lives are being packed up. Chances are if we’ve moved a few times we’ve gotten pretty good at it. We remember to keep a pan to cook in and pillows to sleep on. But the reality is: we don’t have a lot of things to make life easier while we wait to depart. Because military timing is rarely in the realm of perfect, it’s pretty hard to have your house packed and head on your way immediately after. There’s always at least one, and often a few, nights that we have to stay in our empty house. So a meal on the day our packers come—that is amazing. Letting us borrow your camping chairs so we don’t have to sit on the floor (or keep our own and take up precious car space)—fantastic. Some toys to entertain the kids in a big, empty house because in the rush of things we forgot to set out even one toy for our kids (This actually happened with THIS move!)—I could just hug your neck forever. It’s hard to ask for help. It’s hard to put people out. Military moving, in general, is hard. So your generosity is so welcomed, and we are so grateful.
If you live in San Antonio, the likelihood that you will befriend a military family is pretty high. We’re everywhere. And the likelihood of us leaving you is also very high. It’s going to be difficult on both of us when we go. Just know that we hope to get lots of time with you. We hope that distance won’t matter in our friendship. And we are so thankful for good friends who want to know how to help and support us as we embark on yet another move with the military.