Two-Month Mark

Two months down.  That is both encouraging and discouraging.  The calendar has been that way the whole time really.  I refuse to start counting the actual days til I know a day, and until that day is a number that doesn’t feel so far away.  It could be a month.  It could be six weeks.  I’m hoping it won’t be longer. It hasn’t felt like ‘a long one,’ in some ways, but in others it sure has felt like ‘a long time.’  What is encouraging is that our last major milestone is coming up in a week–the trip to Dad’s.  Preparation and execution of that little adventure will make the next two weeks fly by.  And then of course there will be the aftermath and the recouperation period needed after being foolhardy enough to travel with a 4 month old and a two year old.

My marriage feels surreal right now.  My husband feels like a figment of my imagination.  I get to a point where I forget that he is a real, living person and not just a voice on the other side of the phone, or words on a page, or pictures in our Daddy book.  In some ways I worry that I won’t know what to do with him when he gets home.  

A letter came today.  A wonderful letter.  I don’t know what it is about words on a page to make you feel connected to a person, but hand-writing is second only to an actual conversation in my book.  We’ve both been a little lax on our letter-writing this go around, so it was a real treat to go to the mailbox and see that envelope covered in his handwriting.  The handwriting made him more real.

We’ve stayed busy.  We’ve done a lot.  I’ve accomplished some things I wanted to get accomplished, and let some other things slip that I shouldn’t have.  That second list is kind of amusing I think so I’ll share it.

I have effectively (or ineffectively as the case may be):

  • Not gotten the slow leak in the back tire looked at by the tire guys.  Maybe I should do that tomorrow….
  • Forgotten to refill the birdfeeders.  Poor little birdies
  • Killed all the outdoor flowers with inattention.  Really.  I totally inherited my Mother’s black-thumb.
  • Invited kitties into our yard to utilize our turtle sandbox as a litterbox…  Really need to get that taken care of….
  • Managed to grow some mold….  Seriously–I have been cleaning, I’ve been trying to incorporate FlyLady into my life, even, but the friendly fungus still found it’s way.  I have done my best to thoroughly eradicate it.

I’m looking forward to pumpkin picking time.  I am, I am.  In the meantime it’s back to trying to live these days to the fullest while still hoping that they’ll fly by.

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A Blah Day

Today was a very blah day.   I was tired.  I was down.  I missed Husband.

When husband is home, I have blah days.  I forget this during deployment.  Somehow I believe that life is always happy and hunky-dory when he is home.  Or maybe it’s more that I believe I have to make it feel as though life is always as close to happy and hunky-dory as possible when he is gone, despite his goneness.  When he is on deployment, I feel like I have to make sure I don’t have ‘blah’ days…  Because blah days–days where my back works fine, and the girls are healthy and nothing is really wrong other than that constant ache of missing and a mind and body that are too tired–mean I’m being whiney about the deployment.  They mean I’m not ‘being strong.’  They mean I’m not ‘staying busy.’

Today, I was tired of ‘staying busy.’  I was tired of ‘putting myself out there.’  All I wanted was, well…  Husband.  But also that feeling of partnership.  The lonely, half-of-me-is-gone feeling was intense today.  It wasn’t that I wanted ‘company’ or ‘companionship.’  Working on a project or finding a way to hang out with any old someone just wasn’t what I was craving.  Rather, I wanted the other person who is supposed to be here to help unstrap the girls from the carseats and bring them inside.  I wanted that feeling of soaking into the man who is supposed to be always solid and there and next to me.  I wanted the feeling of being with someone who knows me totally and who ‘gets me’ inside and out. 

I wanted that comfortable interchange–the ability to just sit in the same room with this person that I love…  Each lost in our own projects, or thoughts, but still fully together. 

I wanted the house to feel full and not so empty.

For that matter, I wanted help tracking down the mysterious odor in our bedroom.

‘Staying busy’ doesn’t fill those holes.  ‘Being out there and involved’ doesn’t either. 

But I did find ways to cheer myself up…. 

I played on the floor with the girls.  Baboo, inspired by Big Sister sitting just out of reach, decided to roll over for the first time.  She hasn’t really shown much interest in mobility, until today and then she wanted to do it all!

Little Miss and I learned about the color blue and circles.  There were tickles and giggles and snuggles.  And there was fun with a popped balloon and Little Miss’s impression of Piglet “Oh D-d-d-d-deary Dear!”

Even with this feeling of blahness it was a weekend of baking yummy apple treats, tea parties (I love tea parties!) with my girls, and re-discovering how much I adore the series Christy.  (I even re-ordered the book since my first copy is torn beyond recognition).

And there was a phone call from Husband–A really solid, decent phone call.  Our connection was finally good, and more than wires and technology the call made me feel connected again, cutting through all the numbness and blah.  And for a moment his voice reached across the miles and wrapped me in his love. 

And this week, well…  It’s busy.  There’s plenty to do.  There are projects to get rolling, meetings to attend, a family visit to enjoy, and the continuous work of planning for our big trip back to the midwest in under a week and a half.

So the blah day…  Was just that.  A day.  A bump in the road.  It’s not a reflection of my ‘strength’ or lack thereof.  It’s just something that happens once in a while whether husband is here or not.  They’re different during a deployment, and often blahier because Husband is such a source of joy and support for me. 

But blah or not, it’s another day down.  I’m going to go mark it off the calendar, crawl into bed to write my nightly letter, and fall asleep to Christy.  Tomorrow I may track down the source of the mysterious bedroom odor and go back to ‘keeping busy’ as the distraction from the ache.

And maybe it won’t be such a blah day.

Tidbits

  • I think the little botched communication deal is going to result in my neighbor becoming a good friend.  I’d introduced myself before the deployment, but…  we’d both forgotten one another’s names and were too embarassed to re-iniatiate contact…  until now!  I do love making new friends
  • I’m lonely for Husband tonight.  Very lonely.  This time around the numbness has felt like a serious dose of novacaine to my heart–My being seems all consumed by not feeling his goneness.  But tonight, I feel it.  And I want him.  I just do.
  • Little  Miss and I are making some progress in our dealing with her “Very, Very Two” behaviour.  I am staying more patient.  She is learning some control as well.  Still have many a ‘I am such a pathetic failure of a mother’ moment, but I’m also learning how to lean into grace during those.
  • However…  For whatever reason she had a serious case of the wiggles tonight.  And I had a serious case of wiggle intolerance.  I was thankful for bedtime. 
  • Baboo takes a pacifier.   I like it.  I like it a lot.
  • Little Miss suprised me today by singing the Happy Birthday Song when I told her one of her friends turned 2 today.  I had no idea she even knew the Birthday Song. 
  • Baboo is learning how to meaningfully grab at things.  Also, she has such an adorable little thoughtful squishy face.
  • I’m still on a total John Eldredge kick.  I am really soaking into the book Captivating
  • I was totally undone by peanut butter cookies this week.  Totally.
  • Because the peach of a doctor I saw about my back kindly admonished me to work on improving my flexibility and strengthen my postural muscles, I’m doing my old Yoga video for 15 minute increments during the day.  It’s fabulous.  I forgot how much I loved yoga.
  • Everytime I do said yoga video I think of Brandy and Lauren and PE and Yoga in the vestibule.  And also crazy record-player lady saying, “Namiste and welcome to yoga,” and “Slowly lower your leg back to the floooooor” in that freaky-deaky airy little voice of hers.  Ah…  memories.
  • I like the word “Namiste.”  I have read that loosely translated it means, “I salute the God I see in you,” and that when folks of the language and tradition using “namiste” convert to Christianity, they continue to use the greeting. 
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about Brennan Manning saying that there are no neutral encounters….  That we either push people closer to God or further away from them in each and every meeting of another.  I am hoping for the grace to push in the right direction.
  • It is 11:44 which is a delightful clock number really.  And so I think I shall close this and retire. 
  • G’night

Botched Messages, Confusion, and Disconcerted Folk on All Sides

Well, it’s been an interesting hour or two. 

As I was putting the girls down for the night, the phone rang.  I didn’t answer it because Little Miss had all but snuggled down for the night (without a fight for the first night in a week, by the way!).  I heard the answering machine pick up, but couldn’t tell who had called.  Immediately after that, the phone rang again.  Again the answering machine picked up and this time I  heard my husband’s voice.  I came out to the living room only to be unable to locate the phone.  I listened to the messages.  The first message said, “The command just told me to call you immediately.”  That was it…  What in the world was that supposed to mean?  The second said something about half of a message and me needing to call him back right away.  I hit the ‘find handset’ button and called him back.

It turns out that a guy in the squadron hadn’t heard from his wife, our neighbor, in a few days.  Communication has been wonderful for us this deployment so this was pretty unusual.  The command had been alerted and no one had been able to get ahold of her.  I was being asked to go over and check on her.

I’d just gotten the babies to bed and I tried to figure out what to do.  My thought was, that something could be really wrong and if so I’d need to get there sooner than later.  This family has two little girls exactly the same age as ours….  A million scenarios flashed through my mind.  Our friends down the street aren’t back from vacation yet and no one else was close enough that I felt I could call them to come watch the kiddos.  Should I wait until morning or wake the girls up and head over?  Little Miss and Baboo solved my dilemma by waking up in that instant.

So….  I loaded them both into the double stroller and around the corner we went.  I walked up the steps and onto the porch and started knocking and looking in the windows to try to figure out what was going on.  The whole time I wondered what I would find.  Was this poor wife just not calling her husband?  Was she out of town and he’d forgotten that she’d mentioned it?  Or had something awful happened?  I knocked and knocked and knocked.  The lights were on.  The T.V. was on.  The fishtank looked a little green.  Then…  the German Shephards started growling and barking–none too happy with us.  “Great,”  I thought, “Here I am with my 3-month old and toddler and we’re about to get shredded to bits by the guard dogs.” 

I kept knocking and finally the poor girl came to the door.  In a towel.  (Oops).

Without thinking, I blurted out, “I know you probably think I’m a psycho-stalker now, but my husband just called.  Apparently your husband is really worried because he hasn’t heard from you in a few days.  Is everything ok?” 

She looked shaken and I could tell she was trying to get a handle on the words coming out of my mouth, “Yeah.  We’re ok.  The phone and internet were disconnected.  I thought…  I thought it was him.”

“Oh, Ok.  Well, I was afraid something was terribly wrong so I figured I would risk looking crazy coming over here so late rather than wait.  You’re sure you’re ok?  Do you need anything?” 

“No….” 

She agreed to come over and use our phone and internet tomorrow to connect with her husband and the girls and I walked on home.  As I did, I realized what *she* must have been thinking.

When the knocking didn’t stop she probably wondered if there was a government vehicle parked outside and a chaplain in Dress Blues on her doorstep.  When it was me she probably still thought something had happened to her husband and I was the only channel they could use to get to her since her phone had been disconnected.  It suddenly dawned on me that that’s what she meant by, “I thought it was him….”

I came on home and called Husband and relayed the message to give to his friend in the command.  And I’m sitting here now, hoping and praying that I didn’t scare this poor girl so badly that she won’t sleep tonight.  I’m hoping and praying that she will come over tomorrow, use our phone and melt into the relief of hearing her husband’s voice.  And I’m hoping she’ll accept my apology and the batch of cookies I’m planning to bake her.

The chain of worry and disconcertedness started with the command’s botched message to husband.  At first he was told only, “Call your wife immediately.”  I got the torch of disconcertedness with the worry of what could possibly be wrong (I do have a writer’s imagination at times).  I passed it on with my poorly communicated message and strange and sudden presence on a night when this poor woman wasn’t expecting anyone.  And now I’m sitting here disconcerted about the whole chain of events, and my part in probably scaring the bejeebers out of this poor girl and her babies.

Like I said, it’s been an interesting evening.

My Proposal to Improve Mothering

~Begin rant~

I’ve said before it’s scary being a Mom these days.  Everywhere I look there’s a new scary study out saying that I’m screwing my kid up.  This week it’s the Baby Einstein controversy (Baby Einstein creates dull kids, not smart ones).  Last week it was the the Fruit Juice/Obesity link.  You even get guilted before their born with studies that say things like “being overweight when pregnant will cause your child to be obese in childhood, and experiencing high levels of anxiety during will cause your child to have ADHD  There’s the ever popular Vaccine Conspiracy Theory, and a plethora of other scary studies out there.

Scanning through the table of Contents of my latest Parents magazine, I see an article about the hidden dangers of carbon monoxide even when your child is outside, doggy danger, more lead worries, and a whole article featuring a rating system for ‘slacker mom techniques’ and just how ‘bad they really are.’  There’s also a snippet about a study saying those uber-obnoxious ‘Heely Shoes’ cause kids to break limbs (oh really–who’d have guessed?), a warning about children having undiagnosed high blood pressure, and a 1/3 page side-bar about the latest product recalls (not including the ones in the news). 

And then there’s what the professionals tell us.   A friend and I were talking today about the ever-changing charts.  When should you start solids?  Our parents’ generation apparently favored a late start–around the one-year mark (which is odd, since  my Mom thought my firstborn should be munching on a cinnamon roll at 3 1/2 months).  Now it’s 4-6 months.  And of course there’s the ever popular debate about when and whether or not to lace a kids bottle with rice cereal for a whole host of reasons.

Of course there are also the various ‘camps’ which all cite their own studies.  There’s the ‘never let them cry it out’ folks who say things like, “Parents know in their hearts that letting a child cry is not the answer” and back the claim with studies of children in orphanages learning to simply ‘give up’ because their cries go unanswered and thus wasting away to disease and profound lingering mental upset (I gotta tell you–that particular mental picture has blipped through my mind many a time….  as I’ve continued to sit through a ‘she has to cry it out’ session).  And of course on the other side there is the ‘tough love needs to start when they’re small–I let my kid cry it out the first night home from the hospital and he slepth through the night from then on’ folks.  There’s the attachment parenting folks, the co-sleepers, the kids need their own space folks…  So many folks in each camp believe that they have the ‘right’ answers about how to parent and deem others who parent otherwise as negligent, or at the very least, misled.

It goes on and on and on and on and on. 

So here is my proposal:  Perhaps another “official study” needs to be conducted.  The subject matter?  Are all these studies beneficial to parents?  Is all of the ‘expert information’ really helping those parents who are conscientious enough to pay attention to it?  Or do they do nothing more than create a generation of neurotic parents (which would seem to logically lead to neurotic kids–I bet there’s a ‘study’ somewhere to back me up), who are afraid to do anything and can’t recognize their own God-given parenting instincts beneath all the gobblety-gook expertise shoved down our throats each time we go to the doctor, read a magazine, or watch the news.

Sure there are some benefits.  We got smart enough to strap our kids in car seats and stopped putting kids in top-heavy ‘walkers.’  Also, lead is no longer a part of most children’s nutritious breakfast.  But couldn’t we be getting information overload here? 

Motherhood carries with it a lion-share of guilt issues even outside of all the studies.  Do we really have to load more on top?  We already have to begin to come to terms with the fact that our kids will likely be sitting in a counselling session at some point later in life detailing all the ways we failed them which thus produced their mental duress.

So let’s see it!  I want a study done about the effects of all the studies?  Do they make us safer or more stressed out? 

I’ll probably have better luck just cancelling some magazine subscriptions and not reading any news, huh?

~End Rant!~

Some random stuff–feeling SO much better and I ain’t no rookie. ;)

Yesterday afternoon it was like the clouds lifted, and so did the pain (well…  mostly).  All of a sudden I looked around and thought, “I don’t hurt as badly and I can almost walk.”  Today was the same.  Sometime in there my mood lifted as well and it was like I was infused with hope and the spring came back into my step.  It concerns me a bit that this little low was so low, but throwing intense pain into an already difficult situation could potentially lead to such a low perhaps?

Incidentally, I went to the doctor again today–my PCM (my assigned doctor).  It was the first time I’d seen him and much to my delight and suprise I found that he is FABULOUS.  I left feeling like I’d been seen by someone who knew what he was talking about, and while I came out with no other real tools or game plan than an understanding of what my problem was, and how to begin to take measures to heal and avoid it in the future, I felt entirely different than I have from other encounters at our hospital.  So now there are TWO doctors that I like and trust there.  It feels like I’ve struck gold. 

It’s kind of a grief-y thought I guess, but…  I feel like the clouds are lifting in a lot of my life.  When it comes to dealing with my Mom’s death I am in NO WAY ‘over it’ and the pain can still hurt like hell.  Indeed I can still have a day or days or even a week or two of feeling like I’ve once again been hit by the, “My Mom died truck.”  But…  *I* am starting to feel alive again.  I am starting to revel in joy and feel it as more than a fleeting thing.   I am starting to relish little things again (my daughters’ smiles and giggles, cheesecake, sunshine, endorphins, refreshing conversations, new insights).  It’s not just a lifting of the grief, it’s also a re-ordering of life that I’m doing a little here and a little there.  In some ways I feel like I’m learning to be me and to be ok in that for the first time ever, and I don’t think any of that could have come without the chapter of grief that I’ve walked through.  I’m NOT Pollyannaing.  I still say I’d rather have Mom here and be a shallow idiot. 

Truly, this lift isn’t all about Mom or my departure from constantly actively mourning.  Part of it is learning how to be me and learning how to be healthy.  I just enjoy lifting my head and not feeling it drug down again by reminders of the grief.  The loss is still there and still painful and I will always grieve.  But finally life feels lighter.

And now for just a few deploymenty thoughts:  I’ve been reading the fabulously supportive comments and loving them.  I thank you  all so very much for them.  But I read them sometimes and feel immeasurably supported, but also think, “Dude, I wonder if I’m coming across like I’m a total rookie!” So just for some background for those who might not know me in person, it’s true, I’m no ‘salty’ Sailor’s wife…  but I am starting to get my ‘sea legs.’  We’ve been doing the Navy thing for over 3 and a half years now.  This is our second deployment–it’s actually a mini-deployment shoved in between two ‘regular’ ones.  In some ways it feels new because, believe it or not, it’s ‘just a deployment.’  It’s not a deployment on top of well…  a hellishly awful loss (or three).

My first deployment happened to coincide with what I cheerfully refer to as, “The worst six months of my life.”  I’d been at my parents’ home because of Mom’s illness during my husband’s last few work-ups before the first deployment.   During his very last detachment, my Mom went through the last leg of her battle with Lung Cancer.  After a whirlwind month of funeral, cross-country trips, and an unexpected, and wonderful but bittersweet under-the-circumstances final month together, husband left.  I lived with my Dad during that deployment thinking he might need the support, and tried to wrap my head around the fact that my life now looked incredibly different with my Mom gone, a 5 month old baby, a deployed husband, and a life-landscape that seemed to continue to change faster than the speed of light.  We didn’t have a lot of your ‘typical’ gremlins that deployment but I happen to believe that has something to do with the fact our family seemed to be besieged by illness and death for that particular year and the universe decided to ‘lay off’ on the smalerishl stuff.  It wasn’t easy.  It was awful.  But it was awful in a scope different than a ‘normal Navy deployment.’ 

Incidentally, before that we handled the Basic Training separation–also tricky because it occurred so early in our marriage.  Nothing like saying goodbye to your sweetie a few short months after the wedding.  Then I was undeniably a ‘rookie.’  I look back at some of the things I ‘woe-is-me’d’ and stressed over, and I shake my head and turn all red with embarassment

So, despite what may be coming across here, I don’t feel quite so buffeted and befuddled by this as the previous separations.  In fact, most days I am slightly troubled by the immense sense of numbness leaving me to feel a bizarre sense of ‘well-being.’  However, just because this is my second time doing this doesn’t mean I don’t still have raw emotions to express about it from time to time.  And, well, so…  I do express them (you know…  in the name of, ‘it’s my blog and I can cry if I want to.’)!

And with that, it’s time to do a final tidy of the living room (involving absolutly no bending at the waste, and only, only, only bending my knees to pick things up off the ground.  ;)), write Husband a letter, and go to sleep.

Make it stop. Now

I am trying very hard not to ‘why me?’ right now.  I am trying hard not to ask the question, “Does this happen to other people?”  I am trying to remember that these are all just bumps in the road.  I am, as always, trying to ‘maintain perspective.’

My back and hips are screwed up.  Pretty badly.  Badly enough that Tylenol 3 and 800 mg of Motrin alternated every 4 hours don’t even come near to covering the pain.  Badly enough that I walk like I’m a 97 year-old in need of two hip replacements.  And yes I’ve been to the doctor.  I even got some spiffy x-rays.  I’ve yet to hear what a good ‘plan off attack’ would be for this little setback.  For that matter, I’ve yet to find out if anyone has even looked at said x-rays.  And no I haven’t been to the chiropractor, thank you for suggesting it.  Because the thirty other people who did didn’t give me a comprehensive enough idea of what good he could do me.  (Indeed, that will likely be my next step after doctor’s appointment number 2 on Thursday).

Today has been especially bad.  The girls have been especially trying.  Little Miss went all exorcist on me this afternoon.  It was late and she hadn’t had a nap because of a commitment I had a church that I didn’t feel I could get out of (and no, I probably had no business leaving my couch).  She screamed and yelled for an hour while I calmly stuck to consequences.  No really.  I was calm. 

Baboo 2 is also struggling today.  Maybe it’s a reaction to the LM exorcist show…  or the beginning of separation anxiety, or her picking up on the down in the dumper version of Mommy.  Who knows.

And…  my house is a mess.  I’ve been on the couch for the better part of a week, after all.  Since things aren’t looking to improve anytime soon, I’ve just decided to go on with business as usual today.  I’ve tried to clean up.  I really have.  But despite the fact that I tidied last night,and I tidied this morning, my living room is a disaster area, and I don’t have it in me to even begin to tackle it again though it entirely depresses me.

Yeah.  You could say I miss Husband pretty badly.   You really could.  Despite the fact that this is a ‘short one’ the coming home day feels so far away….  I’m tired of being independent.  I’m tired of being strong.  I’m ready for him to come and help again.  I’m ready for his arms to collapse into.

It so could be worse.  But I don’t want it to be.  I don’t want to think about it being worse.  I don’t want to think about anyone else’s worse.  Because this is hard enough.

I  just want someone to come and rescue me.  I want someone to move in until I feel better and take care of the girls and the house and baby me and make me blueberry muffins and call me ‘poor dear.’ 

I just want to be done.  With all of it.

The girls start crying right now and I try to shrink.  I try to run away deep into myself and I whisper to myself over and over ‘make it stop.’ 

It’s just a bump in the road.  It is.  A week ago I was marvelling at how wonderful things were going.  How great I felt.  How I was feeling on top of things.  And I will get back to that place at some point.  I will.

But for now.  For now I AM down in the dumper, just doing my best to get by minute by minute.  That includes neat tricks like having cereal for dinner.  Going many days between bathing my daughters.  Watching the movies Cars  and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh over and over again–indeed sometimes back to back.

It includes me wondering if my toddler is really out of control when she goes all exorcist on me…  feeling helpless and suspecting that I’m really botching this parenting job.

It includes wishing for the millionth time that I didn’t have to face so much of the excrement of life by myself.  Yes. I have friends.  Yes.  They help.  Yes, I’ve even called on a few of them in the last few days…  But they can’t be here all the time.  I am alone for most of it and that’s just the way it is.

I’m tired.  And I’m down.  And I hurt.  And that’s that.

I’m doing my best.  And I hope that in the end that’ll be enough.