Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome, 2013

A year ago, I sat down and wrote down all of the momentous events that I could remember from the year past, and then described what was coming up for 2012.

I don't want to do that this year.  2012 was momentous, surely, and I am curious what 2013 will bring-- but does it really need listing?

My G is home, safely.  Both girls are becoming amazing young women in their own right.   I have a new job that challenges and uplifts me, with coworkers who are making a difference every day. There is much hope and joy and love on the horizon.

What more could I ask for?

So this is my wish for 2013.  That I learn from my mistakes.  That I embrace joy, that I find the good where good is hard to find, that I make changes when they are called for and accept that which cannot be changed.

I'm learning that I cannot change others.  I can only act in a way that makes sense to me, forging my own road and praying those I love the most will continue to come along with me.  My G is a pretty good travel partner, and I am so glad we have been on this journey together.

Mostly, though, I want to enter 2013 with a thankful and resolute heart.  There have been some struggles inside me over this year, and I am making some choices that will hopefully bring about lasting change.

Four things I am starting or continuing for this year are My One Word, Lumosity, Plan to Eat, and You Need a Budget.  Past One Words were Focus and Move...this year may be UP-- this gives a focus for my spirit and betterment.  Lumosity helps me stay sharp and is just challenging enough without making me scream.  Plan to Eat will help us all do better with our diet,  You Need a Budget has software and a financial methodology that has literally changed our lives this year.  There are other things I'll be doing, but these show four walls to the year we want to build.

May God bless you and keep you, may our nation stay strong, may our lives and that of our children stay blessed and happy and safe.  Welcome, 2013.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Changing the Family Tree



Little G and I were talking about her best friend the other day, and about T's parents. As we were talking, I thought about the friends she has, and the families she sees the most often, compared to what I grew up with.

T's parents have been married a little longer than My G and I have. They're fun, caring, welcoming people who seem to like my little girl nearly as much as I do. I love having T over to our house, too.

Little G also has friends R and B and E-- they, too, all have have families where Mom and Dad have been married for a long time, are committed to each other and to family, and who are raising their girls to be terrific people.

Then I thought a little bit more about my friends. I've been very blessed to have the most amazing friends, many of them for 20-25 years or more.

J and J have been married for 16 years. I know a lot of what they've fought through to get to this point. They are wonderfully committed, funny, loving, and they are determined to give their kids a good life and to raise respectful, thoughtful kids.

K and D have been married since she was a baby. No, really, they met in high school and they've been married for 20 years and together for (I think) 24. Their kids are super-smart, funny, caring, and individual.  I love this whole family.

R and N have been married for 22 years. Their son, C, is expected to be respectful and to be independent.  He's had some "stuff" to overcome, as have they, but no one in that family takes it as an excuse to give up. In so many ways, they are our Army Rock.

As we grew up, many of these same friends had few to no examples close to them of happy, healthy marriages or families. There were issues of divorce, abuse, trauma, and worse.

Little by little, we are surrounding our kids with examples of marriages and families that have what it takes to stay together. My G's parents have been married for 44 years, and his grandparents were married for 60+.  My own paternal grandparents were married for (I think) 50+ years, but the best and closest example I had near to me of a healthy marriage was in the family for whom I babysat.

Little G's family tree will look different from mine.  Sure, we share many of the limbs, but hers has a chance to keep those broken parts from splintering. Her family tree, and that of her friends, could create a forest. My G and I grew up during the divorce epidemic of the 70s...today I'm seeing hope that we might be turning this around. And Big G and I are part of it.

This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for that.

Monday, November 12, 2012

That Person's Gone

Yesterday was Veteran's Day, traditionally the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Also called Armistice Day, we honor our troops and our veterans and say 'thank you' for their sacrifice.  I love seeing my Facebook newsfeed filled with "I am thankful for our vets," and Youtube videos of the Star-Spangled Banner (which still makes me tear up) and flag-filled photos.

But I also want to call attention to something.  In theory, we know the sacrifices these men and women make.  In theory, we look at images of vets who have had to completely learn how to walk again, and we say we "understand".  We see vets and current Soldiers who tell us they don't sleep, or they are learning to control a hair-trigger temper, and we say we support them.

In theory.

Do we really get it, though?  Do we really?

Sitting with a friend and his little girl, we start talking about the work he is doing to help vets around our area.  He talks about how it is, to come home totally changed.  "The person I was before Iraq-- that person's gone.  He's not ever coming back."  He looks at his daughter and I realize she has no idea who her father used to be, how he might have been.  He has two other children, who are older and who probably knew both the "before" and "after" story of this man. Yet, he is one of the lucky ones, with family to support him and a determination to hold on.

We have a family friend who has gotten a recent cancer diagnosis.  Is it something caused by the burn pits overseas?  No way to know, right now.  It took decades for us to admit that Agent Orange might have forever damaged our Vietnam vets and I am certain it will take at least that long to admit we're making our own troops sick.

There are changes within our own family, too.  Concentration is much more difficult, and some things either take a little longer or they just don't happen.  Movie night together on the couch is a thing of the past. We are very fortunate.  He is healthy, we are happy, and we have had these days together.  But we both realize he's not 100% the same man he was before he deployed the first time, let along the second and third times.

That person's gone.  Not totally, not irrevocably, but there are things that aren't coming back and there are adjustments that are permanent.

The best way to take care of and care for our troops is to make sure that they aren't going to return home and be afraid for their jobs. We need to protect their healthcare and the services they have paid for so dearly. We need to let them know that their service is appreciated beyond just pretty words and yellow ribbons on posters.  We need to know that their story doesn't end the day they are finally able to come home.

Sweet Gabby, thank YOU.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This Is For You




This is for you, sitting at the table with your spouse while your child screams bloody murder because you won’t give in.  You picked your battle.  You set the boundaries.  You won, and you understand that this is only the first of many but there will be sweet moments as well.  Good job.

I’ve been there, I know the looks across the dinner plates, wondering, “is this worth it?”  

Yes.  It will be.

This is for you, watching your child walk down the hall to their classroom every morning.  You know they can make it on their own but the sweet backward glances won’t last forever.  So you watch them.  Every step.

This is also for you, who drive your children to the door and give them a quick, air-blown kiss.  Your confidence in your child will help them stand strong.  Those sweet air kisses won’t last forever, either, so you cherish each one.  And you give them space.

This is for any parent who has cried over their children, desperately seeking answers.  Something feels wrong, something is hurting your child, and you aren’t sure where to turn.  You keep asking and calling and calling again—This is for you, who keep asking the hard questions of those who are supposed to help you when things seem impossible.

This is for any parent whose child seems like Super Kid.  Your battle is different, seeking to help your child achieve balance and define success in their own terms.  There are different pressures for you and yours, but there is still pressure.

This is for you, and you know who you are, as you daydream of a future where you can sit next to your ex at your child’s wedding.  The bitterness, the lack of communication, the stonewalling—over.  It will take a lot of work to get there, but you hold out hope even as you don’t settle for less than the best for your kids.

This is for you, Mom and Dad, who did it.  Despite the anger and the disappointment and the horrible sadness of a marriage lost, you were able to be at our wedding together.  And we saw nothing but smiles.

Parenthood is among the most difficult of jobs, because while we are in the moment we cannot see ahead to the results of our labor.  Will they learn?  Will things change?  Will the constant drip drip drip of love from us be enough? 

We think about those dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park,” that bumped against the electric wires, one by one, finding the weakest link until they escaped.  We know children are like that.  They test and they test and if they find a weak spot…they can go on the attack. 

Think, too, of the ultimate vulnerability of a newborn.  Eyes closed, defenseless and full of need, need, NEED.  Children are like this, too.  Soft and pliant, impressionable and growing. 

It can be so hard, sometimes, to decide which child we are dealing with.  Is it the defiant, dangerous dinosaur?  Or the needy, vulnerable newborn?  Or neither? 

And even as we raise our children, we do so with others.  The parent who is here, the parent who isn’t.  We deal as a team, or we struggle as foes. 

Each parent, each child has different battles to be fought and won.  Some will be lost, some will not even begin because you’ve carefully decided that this isn’t a battle to die for.  I’m not trying to imply that parenting is a war, or that there aren’t infinite rewards when it works.  Parenting is hard, though, no matter who your kid is.

The most important thing is that if we stand shoulder to shoulder, instead of pointed finger at pointed finger, we all succeed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

OCD and ADHD Had a Fight

This post could also be titled "Why We Still have CDs".  My G's Mom asked me if I could let her listen to a CD soundtrack, and I grabbed the box only to realize that the CD was missing.  I looked in the car.  I looked in my laptop.  I looked in the car again.  No CD.  I did, however, find about 20 CDs with no boxes, and more boxes with no CDs.

By the time I finally found the CD I originally wanted, there was a pile of boxes and CDs and just a general mess.  I had also noticed that the entertainment center needed a good dusting.  This was 'Give a Mouse a Cookie' for adults.

So...why do we still have CDs?  I have itunes.  I have an iphone.  My car has a jukebox that holds hundreds of CDs for me, provided the jukebox can find the information on the music when I buy a new one.  I have a laptop that would be happy to play music for us, and My G has even copied most of our music, if not all, to the large hard drive we bought for sharing.

So...why bother?

Because here is the CD we listened to when we first got married, and we drove in his mother's car over to the ritzy hotel they had gifted us with during our precious two days together before he had to go back to the Army.  We have lived Breathe's "Hands to Heaven" more times than I can count.



Here is the CD where Big G danced like mad, in her grandparents' living room.  She would boogie and boogie for hours.


Here are all the soundtracks to movies that we watched together as a family... And listened to for "car music" as we drove countless miles from Army Home to True Home, tying our roots together as the highway rolled on.

Here is the first CD Glenn owned, and here is the first song we danced to. Here is music that comforted me during long absences, helped me study, and soothed our babies.

Sure we could have this on our computers, but it wouldn't be the same as looking through these piles and shelves full of memories. Here, in these racks, is our history together. As both the girls find their own tastes of music, they have their own piles of memories (and music files they've begun to prefer to our hard copies). And that's okay. Some people have loads of photo albums to stimulate their memories. I have music and album covers.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Feel 'Em Up

Tonight, my heart is aching.  Nearly a year ago, a dear sweet and spunky friend lost her battle against a merciless foe-- breast cancer.  It just.kept.coming.   Another friend finished her chemo not long after that, and every time I see her post something or I think of her smiling face and her gorgeous hair growing back-- it makes me smile, happy for her. And yet it's bittersweet.

Yeah, yeah, October is this. And that. I don't generally participate in awareness months (ironic considering what I used to do for a living), but this is important. TOO MANY WOMEN are having to fight this battle!  Every day it's someone else. Every day it's a positive biopsy or a lump or a battle lost.

Feel those breasts of yours. If you love a woman, remind her to do self exams. Know what is normal for your body, and get regular exams and know what to look for.

Support research into new treatments, support women who are going through this fight.

There are so many awareness ribbons out there, so many different colors to remember and think about-- but PINK is the color for October.  Pink is for our Mamas (yes, mine too).  Pink is for our sisters, if we have them-- I know a trio of sisters who has been through absolute hell.  Pink is for our best friends, our work friends, our always-there friends.  Pink is for our daughters, those we want to see grow up, and those who deserve to live long, happy and healthy lives.

And Pink is for ourselves.

I miss her every day.  Lawwwwsss, how I miss her.




Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let's Enjoy the Now

When I was in HS (I can hear my two girls giggling as I write that), the phrase "Carpe Diem" was something we'd chat about and write in our yearbooks and pretend like we really knew what we were talking about.

I'd love a ring like this.


Kids today have "YOLO," which I prefer to think means "You obviously lack originality" but apparently is supposed to be "You only live once" and to some is also a free ticket to acting like an idiot.

Neither of these are bad ideas, and neither are terribly original.  "Carpe Diem," after all, comes from Horace and is shortened from Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero.  The whole thing loosely translates to, "Seize the day, putting as little trust as possible in the future."

Today, some friends of mine on a Facebook page were discussing the possible drawdown in deployments.  Rumor has it that only 10% of troops would be deploying next year.  My knee-jerk, and slightly cynical/bitter thought was that it would probably be the 10% that has already deployed the most times, but the point was that this supremely high op-tempo that we've had for the last 11 years, might actually stop.  It might slow down.  Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors might actually come home without having the date of their next deployment in hand.   They might see more children born, they might be able to have family time again.

There are signs of this already, small faint rays of hope that are more easily seen by those of us who have lived this life for a long time.  "Payday activities" means we see Soldiers on post wearing dress uniforms for inspections.  Sergeants' time is happening again.  And the military is doing what it can to get rid of those service members who bring the whole rank and file down.  (The methods they are using to do that are worth their own blog post, but I'm going to try to stay on topic here.)

However, those of us who have been around for a while are a little suspicious.  We'll believe it when we see it.  We'll believe it when their heads are on their own pillows, next to ours.  We'll believe it when our kids get to see their dads.  We'll believe it when the POA expires and can sit in a dusty folder, unused.

In response to her husband's comment about the 10% deployment rate, she said "as much as I'd like to believe you're not going to deploy, I'm not going to get happy or excited.  I'm still going to plan in my head that you're leaving late next year.  I've learned never to get my hopes up with the Army."

His words to her, said while holding her tight, are where this blog actually begins:  "Let's enjoy the now."

For now, he's home. For now, his arms are around her and holding her close. For now, the bags are stored and the gear is away. For now, his head rests next to hers in the bed they share.  For now, he can hug the kids and he can discipline the kids. If she's lucky, for now he can pinch her rear and chase her around the living room, embarrassing the heck out of the kids. They can have dinner together, and watch movies together.  

Whatever may or may not happen in the future with our Soldiers, our Sailors, our Airmen and our Marines-- let's enjoy the now.   If it's that we see them on Skype, or we get a text from them while they're at school, or they're home from a weekend before they return to their duty station...  Whatever we have, let's count ourselves blessed.

Let's enjoy the now.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Goal-Setting

I have neglected this poor blog horribly, and there really isn't a concrete reason behind it.  Perhaps I'm just tired, emotionally.  There are many good and wonderful things going on in our lives, and I am thankful and happy-- just a bit worn out.

I've started a second blog, 52 Voices and 52 Prayers, based on my year-long journey for a new church.  It's been fulfilling and thought-provoking, and it's made me accountable to pray and learn and research.  It's fed my soul in ways I could not have predicted.

My G and both G's are doing pretty well, with a few bumps along the road that we've managed well so far.  I have a new job, which keeps me learning and occupied and has a tremendous amount of support.

So, what's missing?  Not much, really, but I want to be writing more.  The church blog is a wonderful and wondrous thing, but it has a singular focus and I want to write more extensively.

A friend of mine posted When the Days are Long, and after reading that, I found Joyful Mothering's August goals post.  Since I, too, believe that the days are long but the years are short, I want to do more than mark time and "get through".  White-knuckling it through our children's years at home wastes so much precious time.  By setting specific goals, month by month, I hope to actually accomplish something that is concrete and measurable.  For myself, and for my children as well.


Here are my goals, and I hope Joyful Mothering will forgive me for ripping off her categories:

Personal:
Write once a week in both blogs for all of October.
Figure out a savings budget and timeline for getting my Masters'.

Marriage:
Make concrete plans for November
Have a phone chat with him that is NOT focused on work, his or mine.

Children:
Spend time doing something fun alone with each of them. (Movie?)
Help each of them accomplish one goal that is on their list.

Work:
Finish the classroom
Sign up two more unique volunteers.

I have a good feeling about this.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mea Culpa

I’m sorry.

To all of the office staff at all of the schools through all of the years, I humbly apologize.  For all of the times I have filled out a form and trusted that you could read my letters and numbers and quickly-jotted information, I am sorry.

For the phone calls with weird requests, for any of those times when I came in at lunch or right after lunch or any time that every other parent comes in, I am sorry.

For those times when I forgot to send in a note, or my children didn’t bring it back, mea culpa.  For those times when the children folded the notes into teeny little squares, I apologize on their behalf.  For any marks/scratches/tears/scribbles/or smears of dirt, I beg your forgiveness.

I’ve been told that I have been a reasonably responsible parent. I’ve tried to help the schools that help our children.  I’ve sent notes, made phone calls, asked questions and tried to follow rules.  For the most part, I did not immediately think the school was at fault when there was an issue, especially a discipline problem. 

But I know, as I decipher and unfold and reassemble these notes, I have most definitely not been perfect.  I know now that each of these notes added just “one more thing” when the pile of papers was already tall.  I know that crinkles and wrinkles and even dirt are the norm when grubbly children’s hands have touched these missives from the school.  This week I’ve seen crayon and dirt and pink ink and grease/glue/godonlyknows on some of these little notes, and it makes me wonder what joys my own children have given their schools over the years.

So, please forgive me.  

I love it when they have little ones at home. :)



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vignettes

It's that time again, and the bags are packed. His dress uniform hangs from our bedroom door, startling me anew each time I see it, because it looks like a soldier is standing guard. Other bags are already loaded into his car, ready for the long drive to school. Laundry's been done, his side of the sink is cleared, and he's ready.

We're watching one last football game together before he goes, and Little G comes out to say good night. She climbs into his lap for a snuggle, and they are so sweet together I cannot watch. They talk a bit, but I cannot hear them...it's okay. This is their time and it is not for me to hear what is said. This builds them both up for the absence that is to come.

It's dawn, and his side of the bed is empty a full hour before he had set the alarm. I know this dance well; he cannot sleep. I get up, and find he is cutting strawberries for us to share. One last breakfast of the type we've been enjoying these last few weeks between deployment and school. It is precious.The berries are delicious, but my throat is too dry to really enjoy them.

It is still dawn, and I tell him I will go back to sleep. One last kiss, one last view of him as he walks out the door. I don't sleep. Instead, I lay on his pillows and I type, praying for his safety and for time to fly. Then I stop, ashamed. I hate to wish for time to pass more quickly than it already does. There are too few hours in our lives as it is, and to wish them away is sacrilege. Still...I look forward to the moment he comes back in that door. And the bags are unpacked. And I hope Little G is not suddenly too big for a snuggle.

Is it too much to hope that these will still be around
when he's back?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Stripes Tell a Story

When I mention "stripes" and the Army, most people would assume I mean rank.  Today I saw something that told a different story, and stopped me in my tracks.

My G got promoted (which in itself is a long story when a soldier has 21 years in, but I digress).  As part of the promotion, he is headed to school and needed to update his Dress Blues to the newer ASU-style dress uniform.  The lady at Clothing/Sales/Alterations was extraordinarily helpful, especially since My G wasn't able to convert his custom-tailored Blues into the new style.

She brought out the jacket below.

Stripes tell a story
Photo not to be used without permission. 

The combat stripes on the left indicate 6 months' each, overseas duty.  Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.  The service stripes on the right indicate three years' each, time in service.

This particular soldier had been in the Army for only 9 years.  He had been deployed for 3 years of that time, at least.  It's possible he had more months than this, but below the next 6 months' stripe.

A full one-third of this soldier's time was spent in combat.

I think there comes a time when we are asking too much of our servicemen and -women. We are blessed to have an all-volunteer service, and yes, they generally "know what they're getting into".  But at what cost?  Are we supporting them enough?  Are we keeping the promise to them?

I wonder what this Soldier's story is, if he's still in the service or if he got medically retired or simply got out.  One third of  his Army life was spent fighting for us, and all I can hope is that someone, somewhere, shows him our gratitude.

What do you think?  Comments are always welcome.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Unpacking

My emotions are still kind of a jumble, several days later.  I may change the wording or meter of this one, but I think a lot of Army (or other service) wives who have been through a deployment or even some lengthy field times can identify with this.

Unpacking



It’s not just the gear that gets unpacked
From suitcases, boxes, duffels and rucks.
Not just helmets, uniforms, boots and supplies,
Nor dust-covered whatsits, doodads or "huh?"s.

Months of emotion, kept bottled inside
Released and freeflowing, examined and cleared.
Tears and laughter, solace and fear
A stew of sensations, a muddle of thoughts.

Pride and relief we see joyously poured,
Melancholy and angst unrepressed.
Excitement, fervor, desire’s no surprise,
Loneliness, aching, grief must vent too.

Just as our living room/office/garage jumble up,
And stuff’s sorted, turned in, salvaged or stored—
Victories, losses, successes and blows
Tallied, remembered, celebrated, grieved...

We must remember there is more to deployments than dust.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Homecoming

My G is finally home.  I truly have no idea how we made it through 15 months last time, while "only" 6 months this time seemed to be crippling and painful.  Is it because we thought this would be the last one, but due to some changes he'll be in for longer so who knows what the Army might plan?  Is it because of some health issues on both sides, or other things?

I have no idea.  I'm just glad it's over for us, and we can regroup until the next thing.

There are so many other spouses having homecomings right now, and so many more who are at this moment saying farewell to their service member.  This is not an easy life that we chose, and while it's not one that I would change I will admit it takes more out of me on some days than I am willing to give.

And then he's home.  And teasing the girls.  And (thank God) tackling the backyard project that had me flummoxed and cussing.  And just here, close enough to touch.

It is unspeakably sweet.

So, tonight, if you're with someone who means the world to you, do this one small thing:  Give thanks.  Let them know how much you appreciate their nearness.  Give them a hug, just to feel the sensation of your arms around them and their breath in your ear.  Breathe deep, hold on tight, and give thanks.

And take no moment for granted.  Not one.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Roller Coaster

This deployment is so close to being done with that we are all just waiting for updates and news and itineraries.  That's a very good place to be, when it comes to deployments, so why am I not giddy with joy?

Something that very seldom gets mentioned, among the "Coming Home" episodes and news clips of sobbing little girls surprised by Daddy Soldiers, is that the week before they get home and the week after they are actually home can be among the roughest in the entire deployment.  These days leading up to the homecoming are among the most stress-filled, sleepless, anxiety- and giddiness-filled moments you could imagine.

It's truly an emotional roller coaster.

Don't get me wrong-- in a healthy family, the over-arching feeling is one of happiness that it's all going to be over and the Soldier will return home soon. In a healthy family, we are SO glad to be together again.

But "together", after great tumult, comes at a cost. There is so much that has been missed, and so much that can change in even a shorter deployment. It's gotten better now that we have such vast digital communication resources available to us, but Skype and email and Facebook chats can't make up for simply being with the other person.  Sharing the couch with them and discussing a TV show. Riding next to them in the car, "Oh, I love this song!" Or simply doing chores together. Raising our girls together.

The days before a homecoming are like those moments when you are all dressed up for a big, important, life-changing date. Giddy, happy, full of nerves... Dressing up and wanting to put your best self forward. Not only are we still the amazing person that the Solder left, but we have conquered a lot and look how strong we are! Every homecoming feels like a turning point.

Homecoming is the date, of course, but the days and even weeks (and sometimes months) after that are an adjustment period similar to having a brand-new relationship.  We are both used to having our own space and making our own decisions, independent of the other.  Over the years, we have gotten better at these adjustments but they still stink.

And every deployment, even every "away," is different. Every adjustment is unique.  Which really explains why this last week is such a roller coaster. We've done this often enough to know that some adjustments are easy. And some are decidedly not. Some of this depends on what we have individually been through during the deployment, and some of it feels like some fateful, star-aligning, algorithmic mess. In other words, it feels totally random.

I don't like random, unless it pertains to acts of kindness.

So, we are finding ways to relax and unwind while we wait. We clear our minds, we pray, we use cleaning as some sort of ritualized dumping out.

And we make room for joy.





Sunday, July 22, 2012

To Do versus Honey Do

Let me begin by saying that there must be some sort of Army rule.  Within weeks/days/"soon" of the Soldier coming home, someone must get sick.  At least this seems to be the rule in our house.  First deployment?  Our kitchen sink looked like a pharmacy, there were so many medications stacked around it.  Turns out, two of the kids had mono.  Whee.  This time, Little G is on meds for strep when I started feeling wiped out and exhausted...today the throat kicked in.  Yay.

So we are going a little slow.  And some things might not get done.  And I'm trying very hard not to get upset about that.

I'm also trying not to put things on My G's "Honey Do" list, that I can and should be able to get done myself.  I don't think it's fair for him to get home to a long list of stuff that needs to be done, especially if the odds are good that he'll only be with us for a short time.  He should have down time; he's had none at home for months.

Here are things I would love for him to do, but I hesitate to dump on him--


  • Put the blankets back up in the closet in his special "linen Tetris"
  • Re-hang the myriad weird tools that took a flying leap two months ago, narrowly     missing his car
  • Move the couches so I can really do the floor 
  • Help me trim the star jasmine which is getting out of control again
  • Fix the mower (and the shed door, which has remained closed after it took two of us and half an hour to close it)

These are all things I'm sure he'd do willingly.  They are also things that I can probably figure out how to do this week before he's home, energy allowing.  This list is where my true frustration comes in, regarding illness.

Here is my usual "To Do" just before homecoming--


  • Clean kitchen
  • Vacuum entire house
  • Clean linens everywhere
  • Get my crap off his side of the sink...actually put some stuff away
  • Make sure lawn is mowed (lawn guy comes tomorrow!)
  • Make tea
  • Take care of catboxes 


The problem with this list isn't that any of it is difficult.  It's that I want to make the house fresh and inviting when he's finally here.  And I have absolutely zero energy right now, plus three scheduled appointments and meetings next week, including a job interview.

So, here is a revised list for both of us:


  • Give lots of hugs
  • Talk, face-to-face
  • Yeah, ok, nookie (well??)
  • Someone else to come up with dinner ideas
  • Bring back more laughter (we laugh more when he's home)
  • Someone else to pet his cat
  • Go for walks
  • Be thankful
I think that last list is a whole lot more realistic and manageable.  The other things?  Some will get done, some won't.  And it will all be okay, as soon as he walks through that door.





Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Problem With Homecoming (Is Me)



Soonish, Soonish...

I am getting to the restless, making-lists, cleaning-up stage of the deployment, and so far we are all weathering the last few weeks pretty well.  One cat has decided he's going crazy, one kid has strep...it's all good.

Let me be clear, though, that as amazing as homecoming is, it is not perfect.  It is not all flags and yellow ribbons and pretty little girls in special dresses.  It is not all perfect makeup, handmade signs and big teary smiles.

Homecoming is an event.  A single day, a few moments, of just about perfect joy.  What it leads to, though, is a process of adjustment and getting-to-know-you and finding that "new normal".  (One memorable homecoming, even the joy was dampened by the fact that all three of his girls were very ill in the week leading up to that day.  Our kitchen looked like a pharmacy.)

What makes these last weeks all the more difficult for me is that, even as plans are being made for him to come home, we are already talking about the next time he'll be gone. This is before we've even gotten used to sharing our space again!  We're discussing school for this (6-8 weeks), school for that (another 6, and during my birthday month)... We talk about the possibility of getting orders, and moving shortly after he's home.  We talk about all the little things that need to be done once he's home.

It is so hard to throw myself fully into the "OH MY GOSH HE'S COMING HOME" feeling of joy, when I know how short the time is when I'll have him.  I'm already split in two, counting the moments until he's home while I cherish the moments until he must leave us again.

In our marriage, there has never been a time when I knew he'd be home "for good".  There is no such thing.  Even in the relatively calm pre-9/11 world, there were CQ duties, NTC, STX, field time, school...   You get the idea, I'm sure.  I have civilian-world friends who always have their husbands there for school meetings, recitals, birthdays, anniversaries-- and I wonder what that is like.  I envy them the worry and exhaustion they feel when their husbands have to leave for short times, because I know that this feeling is only due to the fact that these moments are so few and far between.

Even during calm months, as any military spouse knows, duty comes at the worst possible time.  We pride ourselves on "semper gumby", remaining flexible at all times and knowing that PLANS CHANGE.

So, during homecoming preparation, I am having to put myself back on course, over and over.  Focus on him being home.  Focus on him being HERE.  Focus on the warmth in the home and the shared laughter and the shared weight of home.  Focus.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Rubber Room Resort

Sometimes life makes us a little crazy.  I would say "military life" except that this is the only life I've known as an adult.  I don't know any other way besides having him gone frequently, sometimes for long months at a time with only a brief respite in the middle.  I don't know any other health care program except Tricare, and I've never known a time when he could consistently make every parent-teacher meeting or concert.  I don't know any other form of "crazy," so I can't say if this is more or less nuts than what others deal with.

Such is our life.

Lately, though, change has been heaped upon us; our cup overflows with adjustments.  A child heads to college, my husband heads out for a temporary duty for two months-- Little G and I adjust to rattling around and occasionally bouncing off each other in a house built for four.  Husband comes back, time for a Christmas visit with a now-adult.  Husband deploys.  Child moves back home for the summer and so she can change school.
Thanks to Kelly for the phrase "Rubber Room Resort".
Photo from Cassy at Deviant Art.

Now it's time for the husband to come back home.  It will be four of us again.  Except, not quite.  Just as we get used to THAT, and have figured out the two-spouse, two-parent, one-kid and one-adult-child thing-- he will be off to school for several weeks.

Hence, the Rubber Room Resort.  I am in serious need of a break from this.  I'm not just riding a roller coaster, I'm changing cars in the middle of it and sometimes it seems I've even changed rides.

I'm not alone.

I have a sweet friend who recently said she was getting irritated with herself because she was an emotional mess.  She's getting very close to being able to hold her husband again, as he finishes Basic Training.  She is so new to this life, they both are, and I keep wanting to tell her-- go easy on yourself, hon.  She will face moving, job changes, life changes-- it's okay to let it out.

There is so much emotion, even for good things, when life changes. She's dedicated to her husband, to this new life of theirs, and she can't wait to be with him again.  But it is still going to be a huge adjustment, and she knows this.  It builds up over time and somehow it has to be released.  A good cry hurts no one.  The need to be alone, done responsibly, hurts no one.  

I read a pretty funny blogger, who recently wrote that she needs a vacation.  From her life.  She wrote that there have been some pretty big changes recently (doing a lot more writing, things got super-busy with work, she works from home and her kids are getting older but not quite independent)-- some simple time ALONE sounds pretty heavenly, yet not quite within her reach.  I was nodding my head, agreeing with her that I'd be going nuts in that situation, too-- until she said she was feeling guilty.

I think feeling guilty about needing a break, or about feeling an overflow of emotion, or for being human and asking for help-- I think it's a waste of time.  I can't and won't beat myself up for a dedicated five minutes to myself.  Or insisting on privacy.  If, in the course of the day, I hurt someone's feelings by being too abrupt or if something important gets forgotten-- I will apologize.  And I will try to do better.

There is just too precious little time to spend feeling guilty or kicking myself.  I have a house to clean and a homecoming outfit to buy.  And no time to spend at the Rubber Room Resort.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friendship

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately.  Some of it is because I have truly amazing, supportive friends.  Some of it is because friendship, like everything else, evolves and grows and adjusts over time.

I had a friend several years ago who I met in the bus line, waiting for Big G to board and go to school.  We hit it off immediately, and talked all the way back to our houses.  We lived pretty close to each other, and she invited me in for a cup of coffee and a chat.  That memory is still one of my favorites, the taste of hazelnut and the feeling of connection in the early morning.

You know those rare and amazing friendships between entire families?  We had that, briefly.  Our kids got along, our husbands got along, and there was so much laughter whenever we would get together.  For a short while, she and I worked together at the same school, and though we had very different styles we made a pretty good team for the most part.  I became pregnant with Little G, and things began to change because I had what she desired most. She has said this, herself.  Somewhere along the line, between frequent moves and her own life changes, we had lost touch.  Her number changed, she moved also, she adopted a son.  But, still, I missed her.

I kept feeling like I needed to call her.  But how?  Did she even want to hear from me?  I finally got a message to her via a mutual friend and Facebook, and we could talk.

I wish I could say that we instantly had that same feeling of connection.  I wish I could say that we still felt that bond.  We spoke of our kids, our husbands, all the wonderful changes that had happened in her life-- her new son, her first grandbaby, the teaching and advocacy work she was doing.  It felt comfortable and happy and warm, like visiting a school from which one has graduated or attending a joyful class reunion.

It felt...empty.

We must have talked for 45 minutes, maybe an hour.  We touched base on so many things that were going on, and we were still able to joke with each other.  We still spoke the same language, understanding each others' underlying meanings.  I am so, so very glad we got to talk.  I wish her the very best, and I couldn't be happier that her life is as happy as I've always wanted for her.

And yet...

I find myself missing the people who sat at that dining room table, coffee in hand, talking for hours.  We talked about positive changes we wanted to make for ourselves, our husbands, and our children.  We debated.  We teased and bantered.  She and I have changed over these years.  Obviously she is in a very happy place now; it's just a different place.

When I hung up the phone, I felt like I was closing much more than the phone line between us.  I felt good, because I finally knew she was okay and happy.  And yet I also felt sadness, because I knew what we had once had, and what would no longer be ours.

Friendships are rooms in our hearts, down a long hallway lined with doorways.  Open, swinging, solid or screened...some are glass, some are hard wood but lovingly maintained through memory's care.  Just like anything, these doors can change over time.  Some are always ajar, waiting for a call or an email or a text hello.  Some of these doors open only during special circumstances.  There is the movie-going friendship, the at-work pal, the no-matter-what-time-just-call best friend.  Each friendship is represented by its own unique entryway.

Some doors, I am learning, close.  We might walk through that room one last time to share those feelings again, smiling but separate.   And we both, firmly, close the door with a soft and bittersweet "snick".


Monday, July 9, 2012

Writer's Block

Over the last few weeks, I've had a lot of ideas for things to write about.

Deployment meals, such as they are

Friendship

Motherhood, parenthood

I'd start writing things down, and all of a sudden I'd realize that what I was writing was absolute, pure crap.

I hate that.

During the last few weeks, I have been busy enough.  I started a new blog, based on a yearlong church quest-- 52 Voices, 52 Prayers.  That's easy enough to keep up with, because the journey is important to me and the topic is always the same with different venues.

I started a Couch to 5K.  Some days are easier than others.  Today I managed to get myself out of bed and it was raining.  Mmm...  Not willing to risk my phone, so I will do Wii exercises once this is done.

But I'm not writing.  Not really, not creatively.  And I'm not sure exactly why.  I have ideas, and I want to write...it's just kind of flat-sounding once I type it out.

I will say this, though-- the best part about the last few weeks is that we are so much closer to being DONE with this deployment.  So now I can write about other things--

Counting down by trash days, paydays...  Milk expiration dates that match the homecoming week.   I'll look for any excuse to feel giddy and excited.

Homecoming!!!

The "now what?" that inevitably follows Homecoming.

Hope you'll join me.




Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Photo on the Wall

There she stood, youthful smile and soft hair, the sunshine-filled tropical paradise behind her.  Framed lovingly and prominently displayed, the photo spoke of another time and a radiant joy.  As I waited for Little G to get her things after a sleepover, I turned to the mom of the hosting child and asked, "Was this you?"  After a wistful smile and a gentle glance at the photo, she answered, "Yes, yes...that was a long time ago, of course."

I, too, have a picture like that.  When My G and I were dating, we had photos done.  He's in his uniform, PV2 chevron and all.  I'm in a little black dress that made me feel amazing.  My hair is long, and oh, so golden.  We are so positively, achingly young.  Sometimes I just stand and look at the portrait and I smile.  It's a little wistful, a little happy-- there is a fondness for the girl in the photo and that bright open smile she has.

Growing up, my mother had a photo like that, too.  It was taken while she and my stepfather were on their honeymoon, and she stands by a bridge and her smile flirts with the camera.  While that marriage did not last, there is a genuine happiness and confidence in her smile that transcends the relationship.  When I was younger, I could not understand why she kept that photo in their room.  Why would she want to look at a photo of just herself, I wondered.  She wasn't and isn't a vain woman.

I think I understand now.  There is a need, at least among women, to touch base with the selves we were during the happiest moments of our lives.  It reminds us of the women we  were then-- confident, sure, happy, secure.  In moments of great triumph, we can look at these photos and tell our past selves, "Hey, we did it!"   In moments of struggle or challenge, we look at those photos for inspiration, to remind ourselves of our once-great and versatile strength.  We can remind ourselves what we have been through since that happy day, what moments we have already overcome. And once again, we can keep on.

I hope my daughters will both have photos like these of themselves.  Whether they hang the images on the wall or keep them in a drawer for moments of quiet reflection, I hope there are many times when the camera will quietly capture youth, and joy, and strength.  Years later, I pray those traits will be a comfort and a reminder of the amazing people they were, who they are, and who they will someday be.

Old photos can act as mirrors to our past selves.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Go Ahead And Surprise Me

I will admit to being a little odd.  Weird, even.  Those who know me well are nodding their heads.  Those who know me really well are probably laughing.

A lot of my friends watch those "Surprise Reunion" shows.  The news is full of Dads surprising kids, or wives getting surprised at special ball games.  I watch these and I tear up and I think they're really neat.

But I've never wanted to be surprised with a homecoming.  I've told My G that I really would prefer some notice, even if it's a call from the airport.  I've told him I don't do surprises very well.  I've told him many things.

I'd want to get myself ready...maybe a pedicure.

Change the sheets and towels.

Clear off his night table and give him back his pillows.

Clean off his side of the bathroom sink (I swear, my stuff wants to take over the world).

Vacuum, do the yard, put stuff away.

A thousand and one small acts of love and welcoming, getting myself and our home ready for him to come back-- they'd all need to be done.

The other day, when Little G was at an academic awards ceremony, I saw a soldier come in who vaguely reminded me of My G.  Just a little teeny bit, just enough to think "oh, I wish that were him."  And then something clicked in my mind-- I've reached the point in this deployment where I would be okay if he suddenly got a chance to come home.  I'd welcome it.  If he showed up in one of those surprise homecoming things, I'd hope that I was dressed nicely but all the same-- I don't care.

The house can be a mess.

I can always shower later.

The yard may not be perfectly mowed.

His car may still have my lip gloss riding in the cupholder.

I really don't think he will care.  And I won't either, now.

We've gone through three of these things now, plus a year of Korea, and this is the first time I've been done enough, tired enough, so the thought of surprise didn't send me into a tailspin.

If that had been My G, with his rambling walk and proud step, I'd have knocked people out of my way to hold him.  I wouldn't be thinking "oh my gosh the house is a mess" or "holy cow what else does this mean for us"-- I'd be thinking one thing and one thing only..

Finally.











Sunday, June 3, 2012

What I Wish I Had Known

I belong to a Facebook group of "older" Army wives; we aren't all necessarily senior spouses, but we are all past the age of consent and we have a bit of perspective and maturity under our belts.

This does not keep us from snickering about naughty words, but it does mean we know how to act with decorum when the situation calls for it.

Well, most of the time.

I'm proud to call them friends.  Our discussions are lively and interesting and vastly entertaining, even on days when it's a little harder to find a smile.

Just today, the question was asked: "What are things you wish you would have known about the Army life when you were a new spouse?"  A good number of the statements below were shared on that FB page; they are all things I've learned personally as well.

When I look back, I remember lots of warnings about Army life.  That if the Army had wanted him to have a spouse, they would have issued one.  I was told that I would generally come second, and that the Army life was hard and I better be darn sure I knew what I was doing.

What I wish I had known, what I wish I had been told--

He won't hug you in uniform because it's against the rules, not because he doesn't want to hug you.   He'll still hug you later, when the unit isn't watching.

That sweet senior spouse who is taking you under her wing?  Spend more time with her.  Ask for a phone number and beg her to meet you for lunch.  She won't mind that you are clueless.

The days are long, but the years are short.   (This goes for parenthood, too.)

Everything is subject to change.   You will understand flexibility in a way you could never have imagined.

Rank is important, but not as intimidating as you believe.

Other Army spouses may not all be your friends.  But there will be a common understanding between you that soothes and comforts.

There is much to dislike about the Army life.  However, there is a dignity and strength to service that will hold you up later.

You will never look at an American flag the same way.

Your kids will be okay.  Keep being their advocate, keep believing in them.  There might have been easier ways for them to grow up, but they will end up okay in the end.

Sock more into savings.

Those free classes about understanding the Army?  Totally worth your time.  Take all of them.  (I took the first AFTB, Army Family Team Building, class when it was a pilot program at Fort Riley.  I wish I had taken the other two in person instead of online and years later.)

Be very, very careful when the First Sergeant asks the family members if they have any questions or concerns.  Sometimes he will really want to know so he can fix things.  Other times, it's a trap and it's best to keep your mouth shut.   You will not like his answer if you are wrong about his reason for asking.

Remember to hang on to who "you" are, even as you're changing into an Army wife.  When the buses leave and that farewell hug is the dimmest memory, you will need the person you are inside, most of all.

Never, ever trust the word "should," as in "We should be able to be back in time for your birthday" or "We should get reimbursed for that travel."

Take photos of everything you own.  Keep paperwork with you when you move.  The Army movers generally do a good job, but sometimes stuff happens.

Homesickness will literally make you feel sick inside, sometimes.

"Home" will have a whole new meaning for you.

Get used to writing plans in pencil.

From another blog that I wouldn't have understood as a new Army spouse-- You will have a wonderful life, and a husband you love more than anything who will come and go in and out of it.

You will get used to "hurry up and wait".  (I did not say you'd like it.)

Give your Soldier space when he first gets home.  This is as true for the moments after a regular duty day as it is for after a year-long deployment.  You will both need to adjust for a bit before you can talk it through.  (This one will be an ongoing struggle.)



Many of these things are true regardless of the marriage, regardless of the situation.  Saving, learning, staying true to yourself-- all good to know when you're young and starting out.  We grow up, we build a life, stitched together by common threads.  Military spouses often have to learn these things faster in order to keep their marriage strong, because there are so many other things we must learn at the same time.

Most important, I think, are the simplest things--

Always remember to say "I love you," even if you're mad at them.


And grab a kiss before they leave.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Soar High

I wrote this last summer, when Big G had graduated and just before Little G headed to Middle School.  I know a lot of parents are dealing with some pretty heavy emotion-- happy and yet sad.  Even as we know it's true, the reality that our kids are supposed to break away from us can sting, and sometimes downright hurt.

First Steps

From the moment you were born
         You moved away from me.
First breath
First sleep
First smile
         And so began your life on your own.

Your first steps,
         Stumbling, halting
         Then running and soon
         You were finding your way.

First laugh, first words
         Your unique take on life
         Even then an individual
         Doing it your way.

First days of school
         Bright yellow bus
         Bright shining smile
         Learning so fast.

Then suddenly, we face the "lasts"
         Last concerts
         Last days of class
         Last days at home.

I don't know where the time went.
I hope we did what was right.
The next steps are yours,
And only yours.
First steps now turn to first flights--
Soar High.

   (Copyright 2011)











Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Unexpected Travel

I'm not actually going anywhere.  However, last night I dreamt three separate times that I was headed on some sort of journey.  I called My G to let him know the plans and when I was leaving.  I packed.  And then I gave Little G great big hugs as I headed off.

Three separate times, I dreamt and then woke up.

I'm not a huge believer in the interpretation of dreams, but just in case God or my subconscious is trying to tell me something, I decided to write a little bit.  Especially in case it's one of the unexpected trips from which one doesn't return.

I've written before that life can turn on a dime.  I believe that, utterly.  Someone survives an injury and a surgery, only to face a medical error that ends his life.  Someone else should have died, but didn't.  In a book I read recently, a character referred to it as the Big Blackboard in the Sky-- when your name is on it, it's your time.  If your name isn't on it, it's simply not your time.  The thing is, we can't read the blackboard.  No medical prescription here on earth could possibly help us see the future, ours or someone else's.  So it's important to do what we can do.

Well, if I think about the dreams I had last night, they might have been telling me three things.

First-- Tell people.  In the first dream, I was on the phone and I was saying I'd be leaving soon.  I told him I'd be safe, that I'd be careful.  The most important part of the dream, though, was saying "I love you".

 Is there someone in my life whom I need to tell?  Is there someone in my life who needs to hear those words?  I think I have some cards and letters to send out.  Is there someone in your life?

Second-- Pack.  My second dream was all about packing.  And boy, it was a mess.  Dirty socks, disorganized papers, stuff I needed but couldn't find.  My Mom has always called those "frustration dreams" because you get nowhere fast.  I was trying and trying to get things together, but simply couldn't get organized.

Are my things in order?  Have I set up my life so it wouldn't be a total mess if I did have to "travel" unexpectedly?   I think it's time to sort through some important files and make sure it's not a disaster.  I do this most summers anyway; I'll just start it today.  Are your things in order?

Third-- Hug.  The third dream was the briefest and the sweetest.  It was all about hugging Little G, and then something woke me up.  I wish the dream had included hugs with Big G, My G, and other friends and family, but by its sweet simplicity it still reminded me of something.

Do I remember to hug people?  Do I remember to hold them close, when I can?  I wasn't always a hugger.  I used to think that that people would think I was weird, or that it would make them uncomfortable if I offered a hug, or asked for one.  Now I know the value of the physical, and sometimes a simple touch will go much deeper than the most eloquent of words.  Who do you need to hug?

Three dreams, three lessons.  I hope I'm not headed for any unexpected travel, but I hope if one day I am, I'll be ready.  I hope I'll have said the words, packed my things, and hugged them close.  Just in case.




Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day-- Some Kind of Way

Maybe it's because of deployment, but this particular Memorial Day weekend has me more emotional than any we've had in recent years.  Songs on the radio, Facebook posts that are meaningful-- they are all getting to me today.   Rather than try to put the feelings into words and end up with a clumsy, half-baked remembrance, I'm going to show you some of what I've seen today.

Feel free to share your memories.

Used with permission from John Holmes, PowerPoint Ranger.





I have a friend who will occasionally say that she feels "some kind of way" when the day is out of sorts, or the mood is a little off.  I guess that's how I'm feeling right now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday's Ten: Why I Am So Tired

I had last week all planned.  Lots of writing, then pack my stuff and head off to bring Big G back for summer classes.  It was going to be a whirlwind trip, but fun, too, and not a big deal.

Whew.

At the other side of it, I am wiped out.  Big G slept reallllly late today (but in her own room...so nice) and I crashed for a nap this morning after Little G went to school.

So why am I so tired?

1.  I managed to smash my right big toe not once, but twice last week.  Limping makes everything harder.

2. At the last minute, Little G and I realized that she had an after-school presentation thingy Thursday.

3.  On Friday, Little G had to be at school an hour early to head off on an all-day field trip.  Then it was time to fly...that was the smoothest part of the whole trip, I must say.  Yay, American Airlines!

4.  Friday afternoon, I helped Big G sort out the rest of her packing.

5.  Friday night, I got to watch a (schmaltzy) movie with my Mom.  That was a neat treat, and well worth the fatigue from staying up too late.

6.  Saturday, I woke up at 6.  Really?!  Nothing woke me up...just BLINK and I was awake.

7.  More packing....But we got almost everything in and only had to ship one big item.

8.  Dinner with My G's parents and his Grandma and cousin...I am so incredibly blessed to have married into this family!

9.  Another movie...this one was MUCH better.  We laughed and talked a lot.

10.  The drive here took at least 2 1/2 hours longer than it should have.  I'm still not sure what happened.   We didn't take lunch, other than eating in the car, and dinner took half an hour.  We did stretch our legs to gas up but it still shouldn't have taken us that long...It was earrrrllllyyy the next morning when we got in.

Bonus:  Adjusting to having two kids again instead of one, adjusting to having an adult child in the house, adjusting to schedules and end of school for Little G, still in deployment/independent mode, healing toes, confused cats, weird weather and trying to do a job hunt...  Nah, those wouldn't be part of it now, would they?



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday's Ten: Books I Have Never Actually Read

There are many "must-read" books that I have never actually gotten all the way through.  Many of them were assigned in school, so I know the basic idea, but I got very good, very young, at figuring out what was needed without actually, erm, READING the book.  I spent some serious time on Goodreads today, filling in books I would like to read, and updating my "oh gosh I couldn't even finish this book" shelf.

Just for fun, here are ten books I'm rather embarrassed to not have read:

1.  1984.  As an adult, I'd like to try this one again.  But in a high school class where we read book after depressing, dark, horrible book-- I couldn't do it.

2.  Moby Dick.  We were supposed to have finished it.  Mmm...No.

3.  The Bible.  I will admit I read this more as a collection of stories or poems or truths than a full-fledged, all-the-way-through book.

4.  Heart of Darkness.  This was just awful.  See above about the dark books.  I wonder sometimes if that teacher had issues with depression?

5.  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  This one may stun more of my friends than the Bible.  What can I say?  I have interesting friends.

6.  The Shining.  It's been on my list for a long time.  I just have never picked it up.

7.  Gone With the Wind.

8. Brave New World.  Like 1984, it is possible to know quite a lot about a book without actually ever READING it.

9.  Uncle Tom's Cabin.  How is it I've never read this?

10.  Catch-22.  Any book that creates a phrase and sums up a situation with its title deserves to be at least skimmed...but, no. Not yet.

So what's on your list?


My favorite bookstore.





Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers' Day

Facebook is on fire with Mothers' Day posts...  Husbands helping kids make breakfast, sweet kid whispers "we told her we'd wait til 9", flowers and chocolates and acts of kindness.

My own gift was a 3-minute phone call that took him 15 minutes of hitting "send" over and over until he could get a connection.  Hearing "I just wanted to be sure to call you" made my day.

I talked to my Mom, I talked to his Mom, I talked to my Mom2 who has been as much a mother to me over the years as anyone has.  I got hugs, and hellos, and smiles, and a chocolate-covered strawberry from Culvers, which was amazing.

I've tried to focus on the day, but a part of my heart is thinking about other people this Mothers' Day.

There is the 90-year-old woman, sobbing over her own mother's grave.  50 years and the pain is still fresh for her.

There are the friends who hold their kids and families tighter, because they know what it is to bury a child.  And somehow, some way, pick up their lives and live again.

There is the mother whose child will never make her breakfast, and never make her a grandma-- but who loves her daughter enough to always look at the bright side.

There is the boy who graduates high school soon, and his sister, who wish for one more year to tell their own mother "Happy Mothers' Day".  I know the angels are holding her close, but we all miss her sass and spirit.

There are the single moms, some of whom are fighting for the best things for their children despite the difficult choices this requires.

There are those who always thought they'd have children by now, but don't.  They funnel their energies and love into four-legged children, or nephews, or the students and patients they reach every day.  To them I say, you are still mothers.  You give so much heart and soul and love to everyone you touch.

There are also the mothers, miles away from their children, who are forgotten.  I am an optimistic person, and I believe most of these children probably meant to call, or send a card, or they just don't realize how sweet it is to hear "I appreciate you," "I'm glad to call you my mother" on a day like this.  I know their hearts still ache.

So to all of these women and children, sons and daughters, I say "Happy Mothers' Day" to you, most of all, because I know the day can be difficult.  I hope tomorrow is brighter, and the pain fleeting.




Saturday, May 12, 2012

Please Don't Tell Me

Often, I think our military spouses forget that we worry. We cope so well, generally speaking, that they tell us many details about things that we would rather not hear.

Tonight, I bring you some of them:

*  We had to stop training for a bit because someone mixed in live bullets with the training rounds.

*  Our flight was delayed because parts kept breaking.

*  Our flight got canceled because of too many mortar attacks.

*  There is a $15k bounty (US dollars) on dog handlers.  $20k if they got the dog, too.

*  Oh, that noise...it's just mortars coming in.

*  In-depth details about how a fellow soldier was injured...especially during R&R, after which that wife's soldier returned to battle.

*  Didn't I tell you that our MRAP hit an IED?

*  When we first got there, we didn't have showers for 45 days.  ("As the woman who washes his socks after ONE day...yeah, I don't even like to think about that!")

*  When asked why the flight suit smelled odd, he said they had to land in a freshly fertilized field due to smoke and oil in the cockpit.

*  Going to be late tonight...  Soldier thought hand sanitizer would make him drunk, not poisoned.

*   Absent-mindedly showing photos "This is my vehicle after we hit an IED".  An IED the spouse didn't know about.

*  Me and the PLT Sgt had a sniper bullet go right between us!

*  On the phone-- BOOM  "Love you, gotta go".  Then nothing for several days.


I was told I shouldn't ask for these stories, that they violate OPSEC (Operations Security).  I was told that these should be kept secret, between a husband and a wife.  I was told that I was a troll, an internet person who was just trying to stir up trouble.

None of these is necessarily true.  They weren't private admissions, they certainly don't violate OPSEC, and I am no troll.

After hearing these comments, I really had to think about what I set out to do by asking the question "what has your Soldier told you, that you'd prefer to not have heard?"   My goal, truthfully, was to bring a little bit of humor to something that isn't funny.  The humor isn't in the stories themselves, although one woman wrote about her very pale, very tall soldier running in only a teeny towel while bullets flew.  (The mental image of that makes me laugh.)  The humor is in the offhand "oh, yeah, I thought I told you" way we hear most of these things.  The humor is in the guileless presentation of something that, to a soldier, is a fact of life.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far.  I love comments, and feedback, and followers.  :)