Tag Archives: air force families

The acquisition

“The business of life is the acquisition of memories.”

 – Mr. Carson, Downton Abbey

And this deployment has given me many. It was hard but I have absolutely grown and our family is even stronger. Yes, it was a bittersweet holiday season but far after the memories of lonely days and missed milestones have faded I’m betting I will remember the excitement at homecoming. It was one of the most emotionally charged days of my life; exquisitely tangible anticipation and joy.

And nervousness – oh, I was so nervous. What if I didn’t recognize him? What if the baby cried? What if Rowan acted up? What if everyone thought I was making too big a fuss? Not big enough? What if, what if, what if.

And as it often turns out, the day wasn’t perfect. Connor had been running a 103 fever since the day before.

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He was sick and I was tired.

The plane was scheduled to land super early in the morning – and neither kid wanted to be roused. But my wonderful Aunt showed up long before the crack of dawn with breakfast and coffee and we made our way out. We met with my awesome friend, who had volunteered her hands for holding and her camera for memory catching. We hurried up…to wait.

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And waited.

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I was shaking with nervous excitement.

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The kids started to get antsy.

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And then…nothing else mattered any more. It didn’t matter that the baby was cranky or that I actually didn’t recognize him at first. The only thing that mattered was this.

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We were together again.

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Bliss.

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Stability and subtext

The deployment literature says the first 6 weeks are the “emotional confusion/disorganization stage”: where you feel abandoned, lost and overwhelmed. Crying frequently. Insomnia.
We are 7 weeks in and and I’ve been there, done that (still not sleeping).
The next stage is billed as “adjustment/recovery” where we have established routines, communication and I feel confident and less angry/despairing. A couple of weeks ago I told a friend that I didn’t think we would ever get to that point – that I would probably just cry the whole time. That may well be true: to an extent. The holidays are upon us and he is missing out. We are missing him. But. We are…well…stabilizing. I don’t cry while making pancakes or driving much now. The tears have been traded for a constant dull ache. Something is missing. He is missing.

But we go on.

I threw a Halloween get-together.

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Mad props to my mom and aunt Char, who helped soooo much with party prep and kid wrangling that day!

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We are planning for the holidays and for my upcoming birthday. We text and Skype. Boxes are being sent both ways. I am happy. I enjoy my boys and life is good. I am acutely aware on a daily basis of how very blessed I am. Still, his absence is the elephant in every room – the unvoiced subtext in every conversation. And that is where he will stay – always in my thoughts – until he is in my arms again.

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Whisper

Last night I couldn’t sleep again. So I decided to do more baby carrier research, as you do. While digging through a message board about carriers people recommend sharing between tall husbands and short wives, a poster’s signature happened to catch my eye. It said she was the proud mom of two kids; and one happens to be a five year old battling a brain tumor. The big C word. Every parent’s worst nightmare. As I went to sleep I thanked God for my healthy children and thought – man, I bet that woman would give anything to only be worrying about a deployment. How blessed I really am.

This morning Dan came home with a funny look on his face. I asked what was wrong and his answer didn’t really surprise me; although I think my heart did stop for several beats. He has been moved up to primary. We are now truly looking down the barrel of our first deployment. I knew he didn’t want to tell me, didn’t want to start the morning with that news, but he couldn’t keep it from me either. As strange as it seems in upsetting moments, time does continue on: we moved on with our day. As we have become accustomed to, as soon as hubby’s boots were off we gathered on the love seat for devotionals and prayer. Rowan’s devo was about God’s joy in any circumstance and our couples devo was about love overcoming all. Whisper. Whisper. The devotionals and the story from last night – I heard it loud and clear; the still, small voice whispering in my ear that all is well, that God will be with us through everything.

I would like to say I’ve been fine for the rest of the day, that I felt God’s peace in the situation and have already cried most of my tears in preparation for this moment. Instead, I had a massive panic attack and decided to go to Target. I’m afraid that ruins the story, but hey – truth in advertising 😉

For the record, I am less panicked now. Specifically, I’m feeling a strange mix of:

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More on this and other stories, after the break.

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Absence

The sky looks pissed
The wind talks back
My bones are shifting in my skin
And you my love are gone

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I’m enjoying the stormy weather this week. I don’t really want the sun to shine while I’m processing the news that our first deployment is on the horizon. Hubby found out last week he is alternate for an upcoming deployment. Hopefully he won’t have to go – but since he could be substituted at any time, we have to prepare as though he is. It won’t hurt to prepare either way: if he doesn’t go now he will for the next. His rotation is up.

Finding out about an impending deployment seems an awful lot like finding out you are going to have a perfectly healthy limb arbitrarily amputated. You know it’s coming and you know it’s going to hurt. You can already feel the pain. You go about your life and little everyday things remind you how much they will suck once that limb is gone. Forget about imagining special or difficult stuff. Thinking about those will just crush you.

I’ve been surprised by the force of my emotions on this one. I’m an army brat and I knew what I was getting into from the start. Or at least I thought I did. I’ve been a single mom. I’m totally capable of going it alone. Or at least I thought I was. Did you know high stress is a risk factor for mastitis? Me either until the high fever struck. That was fun. Particularly since hubby is still on nights and I pretty much had to go it alone while sick. A circumstance that prompted even more tears at the realization of the inherent foreshadowing.

So I’ve been processing and preparing my head. Lots of googling and a Pinterest board later and I feel like I might be capable of surviving this without too much bitterness or a nervous breakdown.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 NASB)

     God has this all in hand. We will try not to let dread destroy our joy in this pre-deployment phase.

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And when it comes we will take one day at a time. Some days I’m sure I’ll be ok. And on others I won’t. Sometimes it’s ok to not be ok. And I’m ok with that.

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A busy day

As I usually do in the first week or so in a new location, I went and obtained a library card today. And little man got his first one ever. Very exciting, I assure you. We picked up a book for him (Marley and the Kittens) and I picked up a sequel I have been meaning to read all year (A Million Suns). We read the puppy book before nap but I am still squaring off against mine. Do I dare read ‘just a chapter’? We all know how that turns out…

Did I mention we walked to the library? 1.3 miles uphill both ways? Seriously though, some big hills in our new neighborhood. As I was pushing the stroller up a particularly insidious one, I thought to myself, “and why do I think I can do this Warrior Dash again? Whew. It was rough 😉

In other news: chalkboards have now been placed in our kitchen for the edification of small person and myself. I even tried to draw pictures so that little man can recognize and start understanding his daily ‘responsibilities’ and schedule. I’m no artist though, so don’t hate. Also, please pretend that more of those to dos are marked off. You know you want to.

Look at the pretty flowers! What massive list of things to do? Come on! Flowers!

So that is today’s bid at trying to quantify my daily success in this new/old career. Ah, and the writing is interrupted by the end of nap-time. At least I used it somewhat well (looking up LLL leadership requirements and Lactation Consultant pathways – my eyes are crossed now, but whatevs).

And as you can see by my list, I have plenty of tasks left to accomplish for today. I suppose I had best go work on that. But FYI (and because I can feel your disappointment that this post isn’t the promised AFW treatise)…I am still working on it. In fact, while my new husband looked (and listened) on with bemusement, I read about 47 pages of a delightful 2009 survey of Air Force families, which would appear to be the latest and greatest source of the demographic information I am looking for. Look, guys, it might be strange but this is how I roll. I am going to ‘do’ this military wife thing my way, so… don’t touch that dial!

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