Saturday, January 25, 2014

Little Moments....

....the way each child wanted to sit on Daddy's lap through the ceremony.

....watching our 4yr old realize his Daddy was leaving for a very long time, and bury his face in Daddy's ACUs.

....seeing a stoic old family friend get choked up as his said goodbye to Hubby.

....our 2yr old clinging to her new Daddy doll.

....getting teary watching a big sister and little brother putting their heads together for a picture before the little brother heads to war. Hubby grabbed my hand every chance he got.

....playing together on the lawn soaking in the sun as a whole family.

....Hubby sitting quietly because he was "taking in our voices."

....sweet goodnight kisses from Daddy to his babies as he held them a little longer.

....excited how the unit wives are coming together.

....remembering the sound of his voice, his laugh, his scent, his arms around me, his love....

....I don't want to forget.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hitting Home

This week has been extra busy for our little family. Halloween parties at school, costume parades, upcoming FRG events that require time to put together.... Whenever I work ahead on something, everything else falls apart. So now I sit in my home, surrounded by messy chaos that speaks the clear story of my past week. It is hard to accept how impossible it is to get everything done. The constant emotional drain of prioritizing things, knowing some will not be delt with at all, is exhausting. My kids have been waking up throughout the night. Not just one, but all 4 of them, nightly. My nearly 4yr old has developed a really bad case of separation anxiety where she must know where I am at every moment. Even if it means getting up throughout the night to check on me and waking everyone up in the process, even if I am changing in my room for 5 mins or trying to use the bathroom (and get 2 seconds of ALONE time).

You know something has to give when you wake up feeling defeated in the morning.

Last Thursday, I attempted to have some downtime by asking the babysitters to come over but they had colds and didn't want to give it to the kids. (At this point, I would be ok with wiping runny noses in exchange for a couple hours to myself!)

I have spent this weekend trying desperately to get myself back on track. To clean, to rejuvinate, to start fresh again, to help the kids get back into their groove and we have all just ended up frustrated with each other. I tried all my old tricks that I use when there is no relief in sight and I have to make do: long drives to the not-so-local Starbucks, shopping/getting a couple treats, outside play time for the kids while I sit on the porch and attempt to catch up on emails, quiet time/naps for everyone, working out, putting a package together for Hubby... Nothing is working and from all appearances, it is only making things worse.

The holidays are coming up and while my head knows it means we are that much closer to seeing Hubby again, my heart breaks knowing he will not be here for them. (Songs like "I'll be home for Christmas" and "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" don't help matters either.) And when he leaves to finish out his deployment, it will be cold and windy, the sun will still be in hiding, and I will be alone and stuck indoors for many more months.

Everything is hitting home right now. I found a couple letters Hubby sent me, still smelling of his cologne. Which immediately pushed me to my breaking point where the emotion came pouring out in big gasping breaths and many, many tears. I miss him. I feel like I have pushed that emotion to the back so hard for so long in order to function, that when things like his cologne remind me of him, it hits me harder than usual. That scent makes Hubby tangible again, not just some memory or a fuzzy image on the computer screen. And I know once I have him back, it will be even harder to let go again. I just have to make it there first....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Deployment Lesson: Blessed

I can't tell you how many times over the course of the last 3 months I've wondered how I am going to do everything by myself. Not only that, but why? Why does God feel I can handle 4 active kids, the household, finances, decisions and crises?

Today, I was reminded of the flip side to doing it alone. It's something I have clung to since Hubby left, but am grateful for reminders of this simple truth.

Our oldest son is trying soccer this year. I have been attempting to explain the game to him for the last month in between practices and games. Because of his age group, they play 3 on 3 for 3 minutes for 40 minutes. After one of his times on the field, he came running up, excited that he had kicked the ball twice (!!!). Most other kids are older and have played before, so getting a chance to even touch the ball was awesome. I cheered him on and before I knew it, he was subbed in again and had scored his FIRST GOAL! It was a moment I will treasure in my heart my whole life - the way his face lit up and immediately ran over to me on the sidelines into my arms absolutely glowing :)

Everyone regrouped on the field and as he rejoined his team, I fought the tears that were quick to come. A moment so brimming with joy cannot help but be bittersweet when you alone are the one experiencing it. And that is exactly what I needed to be reminded of. Yes, I am the one dealing with taking the car into the shop for repairs, hunting down lost library books for our preschoolers, cleaning the toilets, cutting the lawn, holding down the fort while the flu makes its way through our family, and a myriad of other challenges as the single parent here at home. Yet, I am also the one to watch my son make his first goal, take our daughter to her first day of school, hear our baby talking for the first time, see our little girl learn to swim over the summer, and witness all the little joys sprinkled throughout the day. I am the one who has the priveldge of experiencing firsthand each and every moment of this deployment here on the homefront. My life is blessed.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Survival Mode

I got a speeding ticket driving my son to his first day of school yesterday. Everything was going well and when I saw the policeman turn around in the road with lights blaring, I thought for sure he was going to race by me for someone else. I had no clue I'd done anything wrong. And during regular hours my speed was correct. But I was passing another school zone to get to my son's school. It was the first time I had driven by since school started and it never even came close to crossing my mind.

I was incredibly flustered. This was just one tiny thing in a long string of unfortunate events that have prevaded my life of late. Just about every aspect of my life has had something go wrong with it. But this ticket especially bothered me.

Why couldn't I have remembered to slow down during school hours? Why did I seem to have tunnel vision on so many things and fall three steps behind in everything else?

It is disheartening to say the least.

It wasn't until my battle buddy pointed out the so-obvious-I can't-see-it reason that I realised it: I am in survival mode. I am so focused on getting from point A to point B, I forget about the journey, the directions and everything else. I feel like I am under constant pressure to meet normal demands of nurishing a marriage from thousands of miles away, 4 kids, 3 extra curricular activities, a household, the FRG, family and friends....

I am just trying to make it through, one moment at a time. Those moments will eventually add up and I will be back in the arms of my soldier with tunnel vision of a better kind ;)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Picking up the Pieces

Every day I wait. The longer I wait, the more my heart starts beating, my mind starts racing and my anxiety crecendos.

Every day I start picking up the house, checking email, glancing out the window.

Every day I expect to get a knock on my door from two uniformed men.

I am not proud of this. I only just admitted how I have been since one of our own from the unit has fallen. Hubby asked me why I was crying when I finally heard from him today. And that is why. Each of us carry our scars so differently....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

There are Heros among us

Tonight, I will sing lullabyes with a lump in my throat and hug my children a little tighter. Tonight, I will pray more fervantly than before, alone and in tears. Tonight, I will call my worried unit families because tonight, one of our own has fallen.

Everyone has heard about the helicopter crash in Afghanistan. And every military family feels that extra pang when hearing such news. But when your Husband is there, and in aviation, there are no words to describe what you go through.... waiting......

And then it comes. News that there was a member of our unit family on board....

I am awash in emotions. Heartbreak for his family, fear for my Husband, relief and guilt, anger and frustration, worry and determination to help in every way possible.

My children just played with his 2year old daughter. His fiance just saw him over the same 4 days of leave. The unit just got over there and the deployment has barely begun.

Then comes concern. Hubby knew not only this Hero from our unit, but one of the pilots as well. How is he going to deal with losing two friends? I just met the pilot and his family during leave. How could this happen???

I can't even begin to understand.

Our unit family has been much more deeply affected than I ever thought possible. I don't think any of us will be the same. But through it all, we have grown closer together. Blood may be thicker than water, but the ties that bind military families together, especially in a time of need, cannot ever be broken. It was clearly evident in my many calls tonight. After learning the devistating news, each person pulled themself together enough to ask through their tears, "What can I do to help?" That right there is why your fellow military families become your own family. They offer love, encouragement, sympathy, help, and a level of understanding that superceeds all else. They are offer hope for the future and the promise that those Heros among us will never be forgotten.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Deployment Lesson: The Value of Words

I can remember talking with some fellow military spouses who agonized over missing their deployed husbands' call. "So, they'll call back" I thought to myself. While I somewhat understood the frustration and disappointment, I did NOT get it. Until now.

What most people fail to realize is just how painfully slow it is waiting for that call, that chance to breathe a sigh of relief at hearing their voice and knowing they are ok. The waiting game is only exacerbated by all the "wonderful" technology of today - knowing there are other families out there who have heard from their soldier raises the tension tenfold. And, unfortunately can often lead to being a wreck when your soldier does call you. Not that I would know or anything ;)

My strategy for dealing with the whole issue of communication between Hubby and me is simply to keep in mind some very important key points.

1) Hubby is working. Quite long workdays. Usually 12+ hours a day, with only one day off every two weeks. I have to remind myself that he is not at training, at his civilian job or somewhere I can access him at the drop of a hat. He is working hard to learn things that will keep him safe while performing his missions, then going out and doing those missions. I am not his priority, staying safe is. And rightly so.

2) He's halfway across the world. So the time change plays a huge role in when he is able to contact me. I once spent an entire day waiting on pins and needles for him to contact me, only to find out it had been his nighttime and he was sleeping. It was a mistake I only had to make once :)

3) The internet and phone connections are not perfect. The lines can be affected by weather, area, and time. Not to mention the blackouts that occur if something happens somewhere in the vicinity. Blackouts are meant to protect those military families who must be notified their soldiers were injured or worse. Military officials have good reason to temporarily cut communication so that the affected families do not find out through secondhand gossip.

4) Do not compare the amount of communication I receive to others. This is a tough one, but I quickly learned that comparing only makes you go crazy faster. It's already hard to constantly be waiting from one call to the next, but when you feel like the last person to hear from your soldier the resulting call never goes well. Soldiers are already under the pressure of long, intense, hard work, and freaking out that you haven't heard from them today, or in the last couple days only makes them more stressed.

5) It is very important as the deployment progresses and soldiers have a more stable schedule, to discuss expectations and needs of communication. Can I realistically go for a week without hearing from Hubby and still be ok? How often do I need to hear from him in order to carry out my own mission here on the homefront? A deployment-seasoned friend wisely suggested Hubby and I agree on a code word or phrase that will immediately alert the other that we are in "dire physical, emotional or mental anguish." Our, "stop everything and pay attention" word. That way should an emergency arise, we can be there for the other despite the distance.

It's a long road yet, with more months ahead of us than behind us. Though keeping up good communication skills will certainly make that road smoother for all of us :)