Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We all have our individual survival methods.  Techniques we develop and fine-tune to make sure we survive this life.  Because it's hard.  While we military spouses develop them individually, we find that they are similar to many others', which sparks long conversations about why one technique works and another doesn't. 

I can't count months!  Even though it's a smaller number, somehow counting weeks makes it seem shorter. 

Me, too!  Months are too overwhelming.

Each day, I post a positive status on Facebook. My goal is to finish out this deployment having never posted a negative status.  Recently a dear friend of mine commented on this, saying she hoped that they were all true and the life had been going well for us.  I laughed inside.  Most of the time, the statuses are true--I am able to find a joy in the life I have built and live for my girls.  The laughs, the stolen kisses, the games, the snuggles all provide a joy I've never known.  It's a joy that is confident, defiant.  Because I am winning despite the great struggle.

But, sometimes, I post positive statuses in spite of my day.  When tantrums, spills, potty accidents, and fussiness fill my day. When I cannot get ahead with the housework because I am going crazy chasing after a toddler and shushing a newborn.  I step up to my computer, force myself to find something positive about my day, and I post it. And then I feel better.  Because I am winning.  I am still finding the joy, even if it isn't as prevalent.

I am not perfect.

Recently, someone commented on a post of mine, intimating that I was a hypocrite, that I was proud and touted myself as perfect (signed anonymous--isn't that funny?).  Feeling the sting, I removed the post. I have since reposted it.

I never want to portray myself as perfect.  In fact, the point of my blog is to take my imperfection in this life and succeed despite it.  That I am trying my hardest to change my imperfection to some sort of attempt at bettering myself for the sake of my girls and my Soldier. 

I do not have all the answers. 

And so when "bad days" turn to a "bad week" or "bad string of luck," what's a girl to do?  I am at a loss today.  I can't win the potty training battle.  She's still having accidents.  I can't win the "keeping it all in  control" battle.  I am barely keeping it together between a tantrum-prone toddler and a demanding newborn.  The house is barely staying clean and I haven't done anything enjoyable for myself in weeks.  Emotionally and physically, I am exhausted.  This is tough.

A lot has happened during this deployment.  I look back on the past nearly year.  And I have survived some intense moments, prevailed through some heavy times.  So, when I don't have the answer for surviving the right now, I just look backward and realize that through all of the Crosses, the many weeks, the long months, I have remained standing.  The good times. The not so good times.  And the couple of really rough patches, I have stood standing.  Even though my footing has been uneasy and my confidence faltering, I have finished the day, the weeks, the patches, looking heavenward and still standing. 

I will make this.  To the end.  As imperfect as I am, I will survive.  And all the more joyful, all more wonderful will be my victory.  For it is the imperfect who are more likely to fail, more likely to fall.  But, despite it all--in spite of it--my gaze remains heavenward and my feet stand firmly on the ground.  Though it feels like my insignificant Crosses are crashing about me at times, though I feel as though the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, I will prevail.

Hypocrite?  Never.
Proud?  Ha.  Not me. 
Perfect?  Not yet.

But, I will get there eventually.  Until then, I fight the daily fight for my girls, for my Soldier.  And victory will be mine.  Because though I may stand on that parade field with my feet unsteady, I will still be standing there.  And my Soldier will finally be there, too. 

Charlie Mike.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Precious Moments

This has probably been one of the worst weeks since my Soldier left.  Period. Anything that could have gone wrong, did.  With a vengeance.  All week, I've felt like I was running around putting fires out.  Big fires.  Little fires.  And then my fire extinguisher was empty long before the job was done.  That's been my week.

"The very last part of the deployment is the hardest."  My daughter's pediatrician told me.  Good to be in a military community--it's like family.  They always understand.  And they never sugarcoat things.

"Ma'am?  Do you know how fast you were going?"  The speed limit.  "You were going 12 over."  I knew that wasn't true.  I monitor my speed like an old lady.  In fact, as he was tailing behind me, a pick up truck sped past me like I was standing still.  My first speeding ticket ever.  And I didn't even deserve it.  But, he wrote down the wrong make, model, and year of the car, that the roads were dry (funny, because it was pouring rain), and he also penciled in that I was black.  Ha.  Anyone who knows me, knows you can't get any more white than me.  Now, I have to find time to contest it.  With two kids.  Awesome. 

"Yup!  Media otitis.  Ear infection.  I'm going to give you antibiotics, and you should be good to go."  Not.  Three days into the ear infection, and I go to the doctor...and got antibiotics that didn't work.  Back into the doctor two more times this week, and started better antibiotics.  I am only just now feeling better.  I have great respect for those who struggle with ear infections.  They are wicked.

"Why aren't you online?"  Internet was down.  For two days.  You want to make a military wife angry?  Shut down her internet and refuse to fix it.  I had been dealing with them already for three weeks, when the internet was spotty.  Then it crashed altogether this week.  And that just added fuel to those fires.  A lot of fuel.  From numerous four-hour phone conversations with the internet provider trying get it fixed, to a dinner time trip downtown to get a new modem that made it worse, I was infuriated by this afternoon.  And I let them know.  As nicely as I could.

And then I stopped.

As we got out of the car last night, the train whipped down the tracks just down the road.  My toddler started jumping up and down, clapping her hands.  "Choo choo, Mommy!"  Even though the internet store was closing imminently, even though it was dinner time and throwing off my schedule, even though it was cold and I was irritated and tired, I stopped.  I knelt down.  And we watched and laughed together.

It made me realize something.  Life gets way out of hand sometimes.  And flying solo without my spouse makes those times harder.  Everyone is depending on you and expecting their chunk of time.  Everything and its consequences are on your shoulders.  You run twice as fast, work twice as hard.  And you come last, if you "come" at all.  But I cannot let those precious moments of innocent joy pass me by, regardless of how "bad" a week it has been.  Because the memories are too valuable to ignore.

Some day, she'll be grown.  She won't remember the year we spent getting each other through, comforting each other.  She'll never remember the precious moments we had together while Daddy was gone--in spite of Daddy being gone.  The late night cuddles as she cried, the hugs she gives me when she can tell I'm struggling, the games and laughs we have shared each day.  She'll never remember them.  But, I will.  When she's grown and doesn't have time for Mommy anymore.  When she's a Mommy.  I'll remember when she was tiny and stood next to me as we laughed over the train speeding by.  As she stood in my arms encircling her and mimicked the sounds.  I'll remember.

In that moment--for a moment, life stood still.  The stress and negativity of the week disappeared.  All that mattered was she and I.  Watching that train.  Speed by.  And in a moment, it was gone.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Everytime we see one, she says it--yells it--without fail.  At the park, in someone's yard, driving down the highway, as we see it waving over a car dealership.

"Daddy's flag!"

I did not teach my daughter to refer our country's flag as Daddy's flag.  I am not sure how she made that association, but it's a beautiful one.  We have a flag hanging on the outside of the home.  It never comes down.  Only once in the last year, have I taken it down.  A horrible storm hit us, and I knew that flag would be destroyed.  I could not allow that, especially in his absence.

It was one of the first aspects I found to be a very attractive and beautiful quality of my husband's.  His love for the Flag.  He knows that it's never supposed to touch the ground, and is not to be displayed in the dark unless a light is shining on it.  He grows indignant when people are flying tattered, worn flags, since they are supposed to be retired once they are in that condition.  What I initially saw as a rare and strong respect for our Flag in my husband, I realized much later that it only represents the stronger love he has for our country. 

And my daughter sees that. 

Only someone who loves their country so much could leave his pregnant wife and daughter behind, could leave again when their second child was less than a week old.  Only a man of that caliber could step into his boots, don his uniform, and walk through airport security smiling and head held high, as his wife stands behind him sobbing.  As his daughter screams for Daddy.

Bravery.  Love.  Patriotism.

He stares at his family through a horribly pixelated screen.  He talks to his newborn daughter as she stares at the computer.  He plays peekaboo with his toddler, and she giggles and "hugs" Daddy wrapping her arms around the computer.  Only he could keep smiling as she yells, "Night night, Daddy!  Love you!  See you soon!"  Only a man like this could look daily into the face of his wife left at home and tell her everything is going to be okay, that she's doing a great job. 

I could never do a Soldier's job. 

Leaving behind everything they know, everything they love, everything familiar.  Entering a war zone, living daily with the possibility of this being a one-way trip.  That they might not make it home.  To their families, their homes, their lives.  They live in tents, sleep in dirt, eat out of bags.  They watch friends suffer atrocious injuries.  They lose limbs.

Or their life. 

The ball caps give the older ones away. Only a few of us can pick out that familiar haircut on the young ones.  They don't wear the ball caps.  They don't want to stand out.  I know--I'm married to one.  Instead, they blend into the crowds when they are off-duty, wearing street clothes.  But that high and tight haircut is their ball cap. 

As Veteran's Day approaches, I find myself without words to express my gratitude to all those who serve.  Because I have seen the cost, I've lived life next to a Soldier.  I've seen him off to war, waited for his phone calls, prayed for his safe return.  Every night, my daughters and I pray, "Dear Lord, we just ask that you bring Daddy home safe, sound, alive, and in once piece.

Safe. Sound. Alive. One Piece. 

Some, many, are not so lucky.  They find themselves in danger, explosions, attacks.  Some come home in many pieces.  Some come home missing pieces. 

As you sit next to your spouses, remember those who are living without theirs and those who will never see their spouse again.  As you lie in bed next to your best friend, remember the Soldiers who are lying in dirt and tents praying to come home alive and their spouses at home sleeping alone.  As you sit down at your table with warm food and your entire family, remember our service men and women who are ducking into foxholes and leaning over MRE's and cafeteria food.  When you pick up your cell phone to call your spouse at work or see their name pop up on your phone, remember those Soldiers who go weeks and months without being able to call home, or watch their children grow up before them through a computer screen.  During the Holidays, remember the families who are separated and are struggling with loneliness. 

Daddy's flag.  Our Flag.  The American Flag. The United States of America.

It's what our Soldiers stand for, what they daily risk their lives for.  They button their uniforms, they tie their boots, they enter war zones for our country.  For us.  And all give some, but some give all.  Some never make it home to their families.  Some never see their children's faces, hold their spouses, again.  They are sent home in a box and laid in the ground under a white stone.  For you.  For our country.  Because they love this ground that much. 

As you celebrate Veteran's Day this week, remember those who have given some, and especially remember those who have given all.  God bless them.  And God bless America. 

(Thank you to my own Soldier, still away from his family defending this country he loves so much.  I am so proud of you, so inspired by you, and so in love with you.  Thank you.)