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.


9 thoughts on “In Which the Gremlins Catch Up With Us

  1. Long time lurker (waves) but wanted to tell you I’m sorry. I have no words of wisdom. No magic beans to toss your way. Nothing other than the fact I can sympathize with you. I understand your statement of “entitlement” and I promise you that you are way more graceful and grown up about it than I would be. “They” say your day will come. I hope it comes soon with a big red bow and a bucket of luck for you.

    Hang in there.

  2. I read the part about the reenlistment to my husband and his jaw dropped. We understand–anybody else who hadn’t dealt with morons would have gotten the $16000, but because the universe aligned just so for you, you are screwed. And it’s not as if you were going to spend it all on something dumb or wasteful. I am really sorry. All I can say is hang in.

  3. I get my philosophy on entitlement from The Beatles. “All the world is birthday cake; so take a piece but not too much.” I think this is a situation worthy of a little anxiety. I just wish we could make it better for you. ((Hugs))

  4. well… poop. that just sucks like a Dyson (to borrow SFWs fave saying) Honey, you don’t have to justify anything! I’d be raising the roof and kicking some butt, taking some names. AT the very least, a letter to the moron’s commander, so he does have to realize that giving incorrect information has its consequences – otherwise how will this get corrected? We had a situation with a moron of this caliber – when we didn’t get paid for 7 weeks, because he kept “forgetting” to submit the correct paperwork while we were AGR – the IG was interested, even more so at the information that DH had gone through channels and been told – oops, sorry, 3 times. So making a little noise, can help get someone like that either the training they need, or the rocket up the butt that is needed.

    And a pity party is only normal in this case. You are not a saint – or a wimp. You are a military spouse who is PISSED OFF. Yes, you have it better than some, but still. This wasn’t fair, and to have them then foulup the BAH – well that’s adding insult to injury. So go right ahead and kvetch. I would. in spades!


  5. My friend, you deserve the pity party. Military pay sucks anyway and a bonus is always welcome – the bigger the better. And we both know that neither one of our husbands joined the Navy/Army to get rich but getting the amount of money you deserve, when you deserve it should be the number one priority. Alas, we both know it isn’t.

    Want a retiree Army wife to come visit and bring my 2 x 4?

  6. “So puke, poop, snot, and funerals–those were our gremlins.” What is it with this particular group of gremlins that they spend so much time in each other’s company? They tend to hang out at our place quite a bit as well 😦

    Call me crazy, Val, but I think you ARE entitled — your family deserves to be compensated for the work that you do and the sacrifices that you make. Soooo frustrating that you are having to deal with all this just when things are supposed to be settling down. Prayin’ that the tide turns for you and quickly!


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