In Which the Gremlins Catch Up With Us

Through our deployment and detachment days, I kept waiting for the gremlins to come out in full force.  I waited for the toilet to stop working, and the fridge to go on the fritz.  I waited for pay issues to rear their ugly heads and for our bank accounts to mysteriously drain.  I waited for flat tires and a failing furnace.  But our gremlins, as I have written here ad-nauseum, always took another form.  So we had family members in the hospital, or we had funerals to go to.  Our gremlins were of the familial crisis variety.  I wouldn’t call us lucky, but hey, maybe God knew that I could handle familial crises better than clogged toilets with Husband gone.  And of course there was always the sick kids.  So puke, poop, snot, and funerals–those were our gremlins.

We’re three weeks into Husband’s new command.  Three weeks into Shore Duty, things are falling apart around us. The normal wear and tear of household products is catching up to us.  Furniture, appliances (minor), clothes–Everything is just a little long of tooth, and showing the wear and tear of serving us well.  But everything is falling into the “NOW is the time to address this issue” category, it seems.

Just for good measure, I managed to trash the passenger side mirror of the goobermobile, and part of the paint job with it. 

Things are falling apart.  I’m starting to feel like everything I touch breaks or falls apart.

Husband suddenly has asthma.  Major asthma.  Scares me all of the time asthma.  And allergies.  The man feels sick and unable to breathe almost all the time.  Not. Good.

And then there is the….  How can I put this delicately….?  The ‘doinkage’ we’re encountering.

The day husband checked into his command we discovered a fiasco with his re-enlistment bonus that could only be engineered by the Navy gods (are you ready for this my Snarky friend?).  When Husband decided to re-enlist we were told his signing bonus would allow us to realize maybe $7000.  That’s not a huge singing bonus, but it’s something and we were ok with that. 

So the day Husband reported for his first day of work in his new command he was met with this information:  You SHOULD be getting not $7000, but $16,000 as a re-enlistment bonus.  But because of a bunch of wrong information and poor advice given by the career counselor (AKA the person who is supposed to know how to do these things), and several loopholes that lined up just so, we’ll only be realizing $1,500.  And that’s before taxes of course.  Husband was actually plainly advised to re-enlist and do check-in procedures in exactly the wrong way because according to the ‘experts’ we would realize a greater bonus.  Costly mistakes, at least for the R family.

Now I just want to assure all of those ‘so many people think they’re entitled’ folks of one thing.  We do NOT feel entitled to a signing bonus.  Any money is extra money, and we fully understand that.  But to find out that our  bonus should have been $16,000 and instead we’re going to get less than a tenth of that is a kick in the teeth.

Enter this month’s payday:  I am checking our accounts online as I do daily and I see that the alert that our next pay-day deposit is coming.  I look at the amount due to be deposited, and I’m stumped.  It’s $600 less than what we should be getting.

I pull up Husband’s handy-dandy LES (that’s military-speak for the breakdown of money we get each month) and see that our BAH mysteriously $600 less than it should be. 

This can be fixed, but it will be fixed on the military’s time which is required to be instant when you owe them money but that can take several eternities when they owe you.

So for now, $600 that we need….  very badly at the moment, that we’re not going to see for quite some time.  We’re still recouping from our expected and unexpected travels of the summer.  Things have been tight anyway.  This makes things even tighter.

It’s all these little things, piling up.  And all of these large sums of money that we could really use that we won’t be seeing.  And all of these frustrations and disappointments and worries.

It’s hard not to just let my heart grow cynical.  To just say, “Screw it.  I guess this is the way life works.”   Life is just supposed to be full of stress and disappointment and disillusionment.  That’s the way it goes.  I am trying not to ‘make agreements’ as John Eldgrege calls it, but I find it difficult. 

It’s especially disappointing because we have so looked forward to this season.  We have longed for this time to be together as a family.  For Husband’s job-related stress level to be lowered significantly.  For time to breathe and be together and not be constantly working through the next crisis or separation on the horizon.

We’re met instead with lots of gremlins, lots of stress, lots of familial tension, and several not-small disappoinments.

I’m just tired.  I’m disappointed.  I wish not to feel ‘entitled,’ but I really would like to catch a break.  I still don’t know if the challenges we’ve faced in our last five years are ‘normal’ or if they’re really as constant and wearing as they seem to me.

I’m grateful for so much, and so aware of our blessings and how fragile and tenuous they are.  I know of so many people who daily struggle with so many more truly devestating things than these.  I know how blessed I am that, thus far, my babies are very healthy.  I know how blessed I am to have a roof over my head, and to know that Husband has A paycheck coming in regularly–regardless of it’s accuracy.

But I am weary.  My heart is weary.  My family is weary.  In this greatly anticipated season we have so far met with only more stress, more frustration, more disillusionment. 

It’s not the end of the world.  It’s not anything we can’t survive, but it’s taxing our emotional and relational reserves.  My heart is weary.  Our family is weary. 

And that’s where I find myself today.  Whiny, and entitled as it may sound.  That’s where I am.

At least we are together.  At least husband is home.  At least we are working through it.

And circumstances or no, we have peace and joy that streams beneath the stress and disappointment, and it is from those streams that we must draw our renewal.

And we will.  Once I get the temper-tantrums out.

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Stray Little Boy–My Current Conundrum

It never fails.  I write that I have nothing to write and suddenly I have something to write.

Over the summer a woman and her four year old boy moved into the house that is catty-corner to ours.  Little Miss and this little boy became fast friends.  This little guy is a bit rough around the edges.  I’m pretty sure he’s the one that taught Little Miss how to say, “What the hell?!” (um….  yeah….).  But he’s a cutie.  He’s a sweetie.  And I immediately wanted to show him as much love as our family could.  His Mama seems to be quite down on her luck, and I sense that things are just hard for them.

For whatever reason, this little guy roams around our neighborhood on his own rather frequently.  I don’t want to go all court of motherhood on anyone, but it concerns me.  He’s only four, and this is a pretty quiet neighborhood, but there are always dangers.  I’m generally a little relieved when he comes to play in our yard because then I know he at least has grown-up eyes, namely mine or Husband’s, watching out for him. 

Yesterday was rainy and cold–a very Northwest kind of autumn day.  I told Little Miss she could not go outside while it was raining.  But wouldn’t you know it, our little buddy was out playing.  He had a warm coat on along with his flip flops…..  But still it was rainy and cold and I wanted my girls inside with a warm fire snuggled and dry.

The alliance between Little Miss and our little buddy is stronger than rain though, even stronger than sliding glass doors.  Finally, after lunch, they’d both worn me down to allowing Little Miss to go sit on our dry porch swing and chat with our little buddy until it was warm and dry enough to play in the yard.  Then her parameters were the usual STAY IN THE BACK YARD WHERE I CAN SEE YOU AT ALL TIMES ORFACEDIRECONSEQUENCES!!!! warning.  That worked well. 

Until…

I glanced out the back window (as is my custom every 1-3 minutes/seconds when she’s outside), and she’d disappeared.  I ran outside and did a lap around the house only to find her playing in the ditch in front of our house–close to the road. 

Enter the Mommy discipline complication.

Little Miss’s consequence for this scary infraction of the rules was to abstain from playing outside for two days.

Did I mention that Little Miss and Our Little Buddy’s alliance is stronger than sliding glass doors….?

Our Little Buddy, was camped out on our back step as soon as we got back from Preschool today.  No amount of reminders that “Little Miss is not  allowed to be outside today or tomorrow, but you can come back this weekend” would move the persistent little guy off the step.  No amount of blunt, grown-up grumpy, “You really must find somewhere else to play,” would budge him.

And Little Miss pined after her friend, pined after the out of doors, and it was brutal.  Especially because she was willing to comply with Mommy’s consequences.  I could tell she could hardly stand it though.  Esepcially when Our Little Buddy brought over a bag full of sugary sweets to share. 

Finally, I brought out the big guns and said it was nap time.

So the girls are in bed (not sleeping, but that’s another of my crosses to bear you know), I’m out in the living room preparing to do something productive when I glance out the window and see….

Our Little Buddy.

Bless his little noggin’, the poor little guy just wouldn’t go home.

I don’t know what home is like for this little guy.  I don’t presume to know.  But I do know that he and his Mom are going through some difficult times in their collective life at this point in time.  I know that this kid is desperate for affection.  I know that Our Little Buddy seems to hang around here as much to play with Little Miss as he does to chat with Husband and I.  I suspect that the structure and boundaries we try to provide for our girls appeal to him.  I suspect that having somone bend down to his level and care about what he has to say makes him feel pretty special.

And so my conundrum is this:  How do we convey care and compassion to this little guy without usurping my own discipline and still maintaining boundaries for all of our family? 

That remains to be seen.   It’s a tight-rope walk that I have no choice but to walk.  Because our little buddy is still sitting on the back step.

Outta words

I don’t have many words lately, and I’m not sure when I will…  I’m trying to discover where blogging fits into the new schedule.  I’m trying to be  more intentional about time with my girls.  And honestly, my brain has been a little fried lately. 

So that’s where I’ve been, and where I’ll be should the words continue to stay floating in limbo instead of channeling out to my fingers.

Days Like This

I hate days like this.

Days when everything feels fragile.  When I feel bruised and vulnerable.

Days when things between Husband and I feel tenuous.

And the big and small events swirling around us overwhelm.

Days when the yelling Mama makes an appearance far more frequently then the calm instructive Mama.

Days when the overwhelming longing to call my own Mama to talk over all of it, and my crippling inability to do so is just the icing on the cake.

I hate days like this.

My hope in days like this is that God is working. 

That he is sifting through my hubris. 

That the bruised feeling might be indicative of healing happening in the depths of me.

That he would mother me in Mom’s stead.

As I continue to grapple with the mess that is me.

I find that the new strength and steadiness that I have been finding equips me to deal with the bruised spots.

And I find comfort in the heat of the woodstove on these first cold days of autumn

In the blue-eyed stare of our new kitten

And in the knowing that days like this don’t last.

Routine

With all the upheaval of the summer, not to mention the constant changes with the detachments and separations up to this point, it feels like it’s been ages since we’ve had any sort of routine.  My lack of routine has been a fabulous excuse to slip off of the Weight Watchers bandwagon and to find 15 pounds have slipped onto ME instead, to lose myself in the clutter of my house, to forget how and when to cook dinners for my family, and a whole string of other dubious hallmarks of a world in disarray.

I rebel against routine, but I don’t do well when there isn’t any semblance of one.  The state of flux time in between routines always leaves me edgy and grumpy and out of sorts.

Next week the routine will start when husband begins work at his new command, and this time, I hope we’ll really be able to get into a groove.  I hope this is the beginning of some stability for all of us. 

And hopefully, it’ll bring time and space and opportunity for some blog-fodder more interesting than my wish for routine.

Coming out of the whirlwind–with bullets

  • I haven’t blogged in quite some time and I’m not sure where to start.  We’re coming out of the whirlwind and getting busy with more ‘routine’ things.  Life is, as always, crazy, chaotic, full of love, challenging, and good. 
  • Houston was wonderful.  Gramma K, is undoubtedly one of the best Grandma’s in the history of Grandma’s, and she spoiled my girls rotten.  We spent good, solid time with family, especially Andy’s grandparents.  I got to swim laps many mornings first thing, and attend a Pilates class with my mother-in-law (now there’s bonding for you!).  We thought Gustav was going to rain on our parade coming home, but we were able to fly out safely on our original leave-date.
  • Husband officially checked out of his command this week.  Three days shy of their leaving for deployment.  It’s strange that he’s done there.  It’s strange that, unless our feelings change about re-enlisting after this turn, or the Navy pulls a fast one on us (ALWAYS a possibility), we’re done with the deployment thing.  I find that I wrapped a lot of my identity up in being the wife of a deploying service member and as that shifts I feel like I’m losing a part of myself.  Deployments and Detachments were so hard, but they were also the ground to show me my strength.  Part of me is afraid that without those challenges I’ll lose sight of that strength, and that a part of me will retreat into hiding.  We’re anxious to see how things will go in his new command.
  • While we were gone, my application to become a Postpartum Support International Coordinator for military families was accepted.  I am SO excited about this opportunity, and overwhelmed at how to even get started.  I hope that I can be an agent for change, and support women as someone who has been where they’ve been.
  • We enrolled Little Miss in preschool last week.  I can’t believe she’s old enough.  I can’t believe she is so excited.  I am excited, but terribly nervous about it all, and I’m not sure how our schedule is going to work out with all of it.
  • Husband is home.  Really home.  And it is good, and hard, and weird.
  • The kids are up, Husband is up, and it’s time to be with my family.