Monday, September 7, 2009

Primary Groups

In sociology, we talk about primary social groups as small groups where you are regularly with the other members and have to cooperate with them. In the "regular world," these are people like your closest friends and family--it can also be people that you work with/go to school with/whatever you are doing that requires face-to-face association and cooperation. In Buzz's line of work, I guess you could say my primary groups change on a fairly regular basis. It's not easy and it's something that I am still not totally used to--but it's just reality (well, a construction of reality, I suppose--too much theory is going through my head).

Luckily, I have a few "real" friends popping up here--my primary groups are changing yet again but at least I HAVE some primary groups now (other than my family--best primary group ever). I have my neighbors, a close friend and her family, and now my department at school. I am so lucky to have chosen such a great neighborhood with some really great neighbors and to have found my friend--who happens to have a daughter near K's age and a husband that has quite a bit in common with Buzz. But I am still not so sure of how I will fit into my department. In the past, like when I was working on my master's, I had some GREAT friends from school. We went to class together, worked together, and hung out together. It was amazing. We were all about the same age and at similar points in our lives. Not so much with the group here--but they are still a good group of people (mostly guys). :)

I am LOVING school. I really like what I am doing, but am experiencing some inner turmoil. In one way, I really feel like this is the place I should be and what I should be doing when I am physically IN school. But, on the other hand, I don't fit in...and on another hand (assuming we have 3) I feel like I am neglecting some of my motherly duties. Don't get me wrong, K is doing really well adjusting to new people and routines--but this is the first time in her life that I am not with her all day every day. It tugs at my heart-strings quite a bit. I don't know how to neutralize this inner struggle. I keep trying to tell myself that I am doing this for me but ALSO for HER. I can be a better mom if I am doing what I like...and eventually I really will make some substantial monetary contribution to this family and, with this degree, I will be able to do it in a way that still allows me the flexibility to be around a lot and be the mom I want to be. I guess, right now, I sort of feel like two different people and I am trying to figure out how to fit those people together and not be at odds with each other. I'm working on it; I'll get there. (I hope.)

Anyway, back to the other primary groups in my life. I MISS MY FRIENDS! Again, I am very thankful for who I have here, but I miss my girls--my "fellow" USMC wives and friends from years past. In military life, it seems that you build amazingly strong friendships in a very short amount of time--it's the nature of the beast and those friendships are one of the best things that come out of military life. For example, surviving deployments together bonds you with others in a way no civilian can imagine. Words can't describe it, but I know my girls know what I am talking about. :) I miss the Marines themselves (who always provided entertainment at the very least...but I also always knew there were men to count on, even in Buzz's absence, if I needed someone.) I miss those non-military people who I was lucky enough to bump into and become friends with--who accepted me and befriended me even when they knew I was just a temporary occupant of their town. In the past, we have only lived in military towns, so those amazing friends were used to the military lifestyle even if they weren't technically living it themselves (not that it makes it any easier on them). Not so here. Here, we are anomalies. I am not really sure that people "get" us at all here. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again--some people seem more interested in asking questions about our weird lifestyle than actually being our friends. (If anyone is wondering, military families are just like you. It's just a different job. We don't need anyone to feel sorry for us, either--we are strong and we can handle it.)

In many ways, though, I am seeing that academics have a lot more in common with military peeps than most. Even though they are under very different circumstances, each have moved, left friends, had to depend only on themselves, and have had at least a few struggles to get to where they are and are stronger from the journey. Even though I am older than most of my "peers" and have a kid and a husband, we have more in common than just sociology. I am trying to stay positive and hoping this journey might not be SO tough after all. I can handle the reading and writing and exams (and I am sure the few--at least--nervous breakdowns that are to come from trying to get it all done at home and at school) but I am not so sure I can handle being so isolated. I still miss my friends more than words can say. Thank goodness for Facebook! But I really wish I could walk or drive across or down the street or a few minutes away and find those who can brighten any day. The good news is, maybe I'm not as isolated as I thought. Time will tell...

Off to more reading--more theory. More good news, that will cloud my brain so much I won't have the energy to ponder how much I miss my friends for a while. :)

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