To All The Friends I’ll Leave Behind


May is Military Appreciation Month and, while I’ve written about it before, this year really has me thinking.  As anyone can guess, it’s not always easy being part of a military family. My husband is often gone, be it for half a year while our children are being born or overnight the exact evening of whatever amazing event JMB has planned. (Seriously. Never. Fails.) Our “Before Navy” friends see us every three or four years when we fly in for their weddings or baptisms and we rarely get to see family for holidays. I’ve given up my career to move where his takes us — and we usually start packing the moving boxes about six months after we’ve finished unpacking the last ones.

And we’re about to start packing them again.

When we came to Jacksonville, I acted like it was a death sentence. It might have had something to do with the fact that I’d told Derek, literally, “I guess going back to Florida is fine. Just tell them anywhere but Jacksonville,” when he was picking orders. Or maybe I was just all hopped up on “Join the Navy — See the World!” and, having grown up in Stuart and gone to college in Tallahassee — North Florida was not exactly what I’d envisioned. Regardless of why, Jacksonville was never supposed to be home and being stationed here for four and a half years (basically a lifetime to service members who move every two) was supposed to feel like forever plus two weeks. The first year felt exactly like that — an eternity in the ‘burbs — commuting to the Southside and being careful to never have more than two drinks at happy hour because we’d have to drive all the way home from Riverside/Avondale or San Marco. I missed my old life; I missed HAVING a life.

About two years in, I found myself totally out of my comfort zone — with a new baby, getting coffee at Bold Bean with a mom I’d met online. It was my first Mom Date, she wasn’t the Craigslist Killer, and her little boy was exactly one day older than my own. Fast forward almost three years later and that same mom from Bold Bean is Godmother to my second baby, we’re planning our boys’ joint birthday party next month, and we’ve recruited a whole tribe of likeminded #MomBosses over 11 a.m., IPA-fueled, pre-naptime lunches at Mellow Mushroom and coffee-heavy mornings at Maple Street. Somewhere in the middle of all those late-night feedings and panicky first-time mom texts, those women and their families converted Jacksonville from just another layover in my husband’s Naval career to our home.

Besides the toddlers we already had, there were no less than FIVE babies on the way in this picture. How I’ll miss them playing together like their older brothers and sisters did!
And what about the traditions?!
Here is some of our crew as babies at their first Jax Moms Blog Pumpkin Playdate…

All of the not-so-great things about military life that I mentioned before? Lessened through their kindness and ready laughter. Long months alone pregnant with a toddler — or, upping the crazy even further, with a toddler and a newborn? Load lightened by their insistence on Sunday afternoon babysitting and literal weeks of dropping dinner on my doorstep— complete with a bottle of Veuve and a sweet note the day my husband was due home from overseas. I’ve tried to repay their friendship as best I could, throwing showers and birthday parties, bringing post-baby dinners and offering babysitting dates of my own. I settled into an easy rhythm of kinship and familiarity that finally let me feel like my family’s place was supposed to be here, among these people, all future PCSs (Permanent Change of Station) be damned.

Except that it doesn’t work like that. We’re moving. Again, whether I like it or not. So, Emily, Shelly, Nicole, Felicia, Jolie, Ellen, Cindy, Kate, MaryAnne, Amanda, Molly, Katie, Bekah, and Shannon — to all the friends I’ll leave behind — I want you to know that, this May, Military Appreciation Month means something a little different to us. This military family appreciates you and yours. Thank you for giving our Navy Brats family when they had none nearby. Thank you for feeling like home.

Born in The Great State of Texas, Erin grew up in Jensen Beach, Florida. After graduating from Florida State University (Go, Noles!), she managed to wrangle herself a career in fashion management and HR; one that allowed her to live in her favorite places- Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Palm Beach, & Newport Beach- before her husband, Derek, caught on to her plan. The couple moved to Jacksonville in 2013 for Derek’s second career in the Navy, where they now live happily as a party of four: their son, Mac, joined them in 2014 and their daughter, Josie, came less than two years later. Erin spends her weekends exploring Jacksonville with the fam, her weekdays learning how to be a Stay At Home Mom who’s never at home, and her nights knee-deep in t-shirt designs for Brindle &The Blonde- with one eye on the video monitor, of course.


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