No two days of deployment are the same, that’s for sure. Lately we’ve had the ‘holed up in our house with sickies and germs’ kinds of days, but along with those there have been a couple of “Rosie the Riveter–You can do it” days of empowerment and Navy Wife aplomb and also a day of back to back to back to back gremlins.
The Rosie the Riveter days are kind of fun. Exhausting but fun. They start with a project–the kind of project that I would never tackle myself if my husband was home. The kind of a project that is full of tasks that fall squarely in ‘his domain.’
This time I was inspired by the need of a treadmill.
Endorphins are important to me. I kind of wither away without regular does of them. And lately instead of basking in the glow of them, I have been letting my backside grow and grow. So I got it in my head that I NEEDED a treadmill. Because really–I like to jog well enough. But do you have any idea how hard it is to get out to pound the pavement when you have three kids in varying stages of wellness and weather that is as changeable as a slot machine when you are THE grown-up in charge all the time? So my solution was… a treadmill.
A good friend just happened to have a treadmill, a pretty decent one, just collecting dust in her garage. She said her husband had told her to sell it. And so… I decided to buy it.
So I woke up Saturday morning and it was treadmill day, which might have inspired some excitement for me except that suddenly I realized what all that entailed. And so… I spent a few hours freaking out and walking around in circles trying to decide where to start. It’s what I do to inspire myself. I look at the mess and get up to do something about it and get scared of the mess and run to check Facebook or turn on a c.d. to listen to or munch on something in the pantry to shield me from the scariness.
Eventually, I got around to moving the huge bookshelf that I have long taunted Husband about. It was the first Amazing Building Project of our marriage. And let’s just say, those book shelves… hold A LOT of books. After clearing them of books, and scooting, and dragging, and pushing, and scooting them some more, I got them moved. Then I had to rearrange the rest of the room. I moved the love seat and the recliner about half a dozen times before I finally found a configuration that looked ok and didn’t cover any vents. And then… there was the rest of the house that needed some attention and the cupcakes I promised my oldest I would make as a mini-birthday celebration…
One by one I knocked the tasks out.
Also… I pulled the seats of the van out. All of them. And marveled at how incredibly heavy those boogers really are.
I had persuaded a friend of ours to help with some of the heavy lifting and he arrived. The kids were shuttled into the care of my treadmill benefactor and we went to retrieve my new toy.
When I got there, and pulled my little van up to the garage I quickly discovered one unignorable fact:
The treadmill was REALLY, STINKING HEAVY. I mean ridiculously stinking heavy. We’re talking, you reach down and try to lift it and nothing happens heavy. STINKING HEAVY!!
Our heavy lifter was daunted. So he went and wrangled up a random neighbor who was caught unsuspecting in his very own driveway. Said neighbor graciously came to my friend’s house and we loaded that puppy into the van. It just fit. We closed the door and drove on to my place.
At this point, it was obvious that even with my heavy lifter, that treadmill would be staying in the back of my van unless I got some more help. So… I determined it might be a good day to meet some neighbors. I too took them unawares and batted my little Navy Wife-in- need eyes at them and drug them over to move the heaviest stinking treadmill I’ve seen in my life.
Two burly looking guys volunteered, and they came cheerfully, of course they hadn’t seen the treadmill yet. The first attempt at going through our garage door was a no go. We went for another strategy–the front door. The only problem was the narrow hallway in my kitchen… Somehow it was navigated and the treadmill found it’s home nestled along the back wall of my computer room, canted in a way that I could watch Netflix episodes of glee while putting miles behind me. The burly looking new found friends of mine stayed cheerful throughout the endeavor, but I thought I caught the hint of a snarl when they finally got the massive piece of metal into the room and I insisted they turn it around. What can I say? I didn’t want to exercise while looking at a wall. Couldn’t they understand that distraction is my friend??
The only thing left to do was put it together. My benefactor friend and deployment battle buddy came with her previous knowledge and between the two of us there was a collaboration nearing genius levels. The conversation started this way. “Hmm… This little screwy thing has a hole shaped like this… so it must need an Allen Wrench.”
“Um…. what does an Allen Wrench look like again?”
Look–my husband is the tool guy, ok?!
But we found an Allen Wrench and set to work. It only took us four tries, and the baby was together. I only stripped one screw in the process too!
We made the cupcakes while our kids played and we griped about how much we hate deployment and regained some sanity in commiserating and connecting with a fellow adult.
The kids got wired on sugar and finally it was passed all the kids’ bedtimes so it was time to call the evening over.
The only thing left to do was to put the seats back into the van and I figured that wouldn’t be too much of a chore.
One snapped in right away. Easy-peasy. Almost too easy. I should have taken a clue from that.
The next one… Well I wrangled it and angled it and looked at the track to see where it was supposed to nestle and I pushed it and I banged on it.
And I pouted. And screamed.
I might have even cried a little.
Because seriously–I got a behemoth treadmill moved into my computer room, assembled it, and made cupcakes to boot, but I was going to be stuck calling for help the next morning because I couldn’t get the stupid seats put back in the van?!
I cried and pouted some more. And I had some words with God about how I NEEDED HELP RIGHT NOW, OK?! PLEASE!!!
And finally when I collapsed in desperation at just the right angle onto one of those car seats, it snapped right in.
I tried the collapsing in desperation trick on both of the two remaining seats and with just a little bit of trouble, got them snapped in.
And lo, I came in and pounded out the first mile on my new treadmill and called it a day.
Sometimes even a girl who doesn’t know her Allen Wrench from her Phillips Screwdriver can still get the job done.
And on those days, as tired as I am, and as happily and easily as I would relinquish the job over to my husband in a heartbeat if he could he be here to do it… at the end of the days when my inner Rosie the Riveter is channeled and I use tools and do heavy lifting and get dirty, I learn something beautiful about myself.
I learn that I am able, and capable. And that even when I think I’m about to be outsmarted by a car seat, I find my way through.
As hard as the long days of deployments can be… Those moments of empowerment remind me that there is more ‘can do’ in me, than even I realize.
As for those Gremlin days? Well… I’ll tell you about that one of these days too.