If you had read my last post you might have seen that the first half of my husband’s summer AT went pretty flawlessly. We started off by spending some time in a hotel, were busy with extra curricular activities for the kids and then I was fortunate enough to end that first week with a night out for my 30th birthday. I spent it with 10 of my good girlfriends going out to dinner and dancing. Sounds awesome right?
Well….if you are a military spouse, or a spouse to anyone who travels for that matter, you would know that anything that can go wrong when your husband is away will. So just wait for it, it’s coming. Usually for me this involves something pretty minor, a dryer that stops working during drill weekend, a flat tire while he’s away, the kitchen sink stops draining, something just enough to annoy me but not a complete emergency. Honestly, what causes more of a problem is my reaction rather than the actual issue. I always wondered if there was some kind of support system available for families of active duty soldiers as they are away so often. I remember when my husband was deployed to Iraq there was a chain of command for things like that but I was a lowly army girlfriend/fiancé which pretty much meant nothing back then. ( I did NOT appreciate that as you can tell!) From my perspective it seemed like there was some kind of system in place for those wives to get help if they needed it.
Ok, back to week 2. This started off pretty well. I had a 2 day leadership conference at our church that I was really looking forward to. We were going to be looking ahead to see how we could meet the needs of the community and I was honestly just honored to be a part of it. If you have a group of people working together to make a positive change in the world, I’m in, every time. I had no idea what to expect but after getting started, the whole weekend had a college feel to it and I loved it. I was good at college, mostly because of my personality, but it was exciting to be back in that atmosphere. I was glad to be a part of something bigger than myself that was really moving forward. Exciting and exhausting. Saturday night my family had a cookout and I showed up there and couldn’t stop yawning, I was just out of it. I think the entire week just smacked me right in the face. If my mom wasn’t having the cookout in honor of my brother’s birthday and my own, I honestly would have stayed home with my kiddos, snuggled in, put something like Despicable Me on and went to bed early.
And then the devil invites himself in…
Several times at that cookout I thought to myself, ” Oh my goodness, I can’t keep my eyes open one more minute.” Then I glanced over at my little man, as happy as can be, and he starts throwing up…nasty curdled milk all over. Now, he had done this Thursday night too, right after a bottle, and here you’re thinking what a bad mommy I am for taking my children out still after this. But hold up a minute, because at this age, all of my children have had pretty bad milk allergies, so I chalked it up to that, figured we needed to look into soy milk since he was acting fine otherwise and we went along with our night. No more than half an hour later, my oldest daughter asks to take a shower, her belly hurts terribly and she says that always helps. Sure, why not, I’m barely awake anyways.
Into grandma’s shower she goes, comes out, throws up on the lawn. I apologize to my mom for making her cookout’s atmosphere and yard look like a frat party and we load up and head home. For the record, my family doesn’t get sick. Of course we have gotten sick. But never all at once and it doesn’t just hit us out of nowhere like this. My poor babies were throwing up in their sleep. Several times during the night, like 3-4 times each. I had to wake them for them to realize what they were doing. It was absolutely terrible. I wouldn’t wish it up on anyone. We spent the next few days with fevers, sleeping next to buckets, trying to keep Gatorade down, and just as we thought we had recovered, it came right back. I was too worried to leave the house because just as soon as all of us were well for half a day, someone would become sick again. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it. I was too ill to even take care of my babies, which has never happened to me. It completely felt like I was under attack, I was desperate for help. There was just no way I could function for my children . I hate when times like these happen when he’s away it’s like the devil is trying to dangle it right in front of you….”See Jami…he chose the army over you, there is nothing that will make him come home to help you.”
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”
WHOA….See how easily that lie can slip right in there? I’m tired, hungry, I miss my husband, I want him home, I’ve been cleaning up the puke of 3 children x 4 per night PLUS my own!. Let me ask you if you are at that point to stop yourself right there. Your husband can’t come home to deal with your situation and you making him feel terrible isn’t going to do either one of you any good. I know because I’m pretty sure I’ve tried that method about 6 years ago 😉 Maybe more than once. I’m truly sorry, but he just can’t. Yep, it sucks. The balance of becoming independent yet still confident that your husband has your back can be extremely tricky to navigate.
The final countdown: I LOVE when it gets to the point where we are counting down rather than looking at the number of days we have completed. Yesterday it was gorgeous outside so we all got out for a bit, but our yard seems to be overrun with wasps and these huge bumblebees. No big deal, we transported the sidewalk chalk to the front yard and followed the instructions on pinterest to create a wasp trap. We’ll have to check out if it was successful later today! It felt refreshing to be outside. After they all got to bed, I came in and started adding to this blog and guess what I saw….in the month of May…inside my kitchen. A freakin’ mouse. Are you kidding me?! I know I’m being negative here, but is this a joke?! Yes, yes it is. It’s not even cold outside mouse, why are you in here?! I hope it gets the flu and dies right now. I’m pretty independent, almost too independent…but let me tell you a few things I NEED my husband for…1.killing insects that overtake my children’s playground like wasps when it’s completely beautiful outside, 2. killing mice that must be insane because why would they come inside when it’s almost summer?! 3. Fixing the wheel on my running stroller that I think is broken, or crooked or doing something that makes it almost tip over when I turn corners every time I take my kids for a walk. At least we are entertaining the neighborhood. 4. Changing the light bulbs that aren’t normal and have tiny gray numbers on them and come from aisles in the store I don’t even know exist. (I need him for way more than that but I’m just sayin’) Good grief how many hours are left at this point?! I need like the red countdown ticker clock in my kitchen. We’re almost there!
24 hours to go: The mouse is dead!!! Mouse trap was a success! Pinterest wasp recipe was a big waste of time. My angels of nieces gave me a flower yesterday and it made my day. I haven’t had time to plant my own this year (one of my favorite things to do in May) and I was happy to relax outside with them in the sun for the day and chat with their mama. The day before daddy comes home is usually spent cleaning and “getting ready”. I like my hubby to come home to a place where he can relax. We’re not trying to pull the shades over his eyes, the man does live here the rest of the year, it’s just nice for him to be able to walk in the door and not feel stressed out. Sometimes if we’re really feeling ambitious, we do sidewalk chalk welcome home or make cards, prepare his favorite meal, or some other fun stuff. But other years, getting the house cleaned is all we can handle. We’ll see how it works out this year!
Overall, we’ve been doing this military couple thing as boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancés, wife/husband, and now family for 12 years and it’s constantly changing as we do. On my side of things summer camp has become easier in ways and more difficult. Easier because now that we have children time flies by. When it was just me, I sat around being lonely just waiting for him to come home, knowing your spouse is surrounded by people and you are feeling left behind can be heartbreaking. However, being at home with 3 children isn’t a breeze either! Running a household has so many responsibilities. Knowing your spouse is getting uninterrupted sleep and free time while you are going a mile a minute can be frustrating! It can feel like you are the one at a training camp sometimes. Funny how life changes isn’t it?
Be sure to communicate with each other and take those small blessings when they come. Pray, ask for the support you need, be appreciative of the phone calls you get, give your children a little more grace when their daddy is gone and make a big deal when he gets home…every single time.
Here are a few ways my family and friends blessed me while my hubby was gone:
- Time: I really was appreciative of my friends spending the day with me for my birthday. I genuinely had so much fun with them. They are all so different and just wonderful. They are incredibly busy women, so the fact that they made me a priority was so kind of them!
- Day trips: We took an end of the year day trip with my mom to build a bear and a zoo nearby that’s the perfect size for my little ones. The weather wasn’t too hot yet so we could walk around without worrying about a sunburn or the little guy overheating.
- Chores: My in-laws just stopped by one day and mowed the lawn. This is a chore I actually love to do. I like to put my ipod in and get away for a bit, but this year it’s not happening. My baby is too little and I haven’t been able to make it work with the rainy weather in combination with my kids being sick for an entire week. This was such a blessing.
- What do you need? For so many years this question brought on a lot of guilt for me. I was grateful for all the friends I had that offered to help out. We had one family bring us some Pedialyte early on a Sunday morning (the have 3 children of their own so I know they were busy before church!) and many others ask if we needed anything. The fact that they were willing to help meant so much to me.
- Rest: Like I mentioned, I was too ill to care for my kids. This has never happened to me before but I needed rest. I was completely thankful to have family come over so I could sleep.
- Little surprises: You know those people you choose to bring into your family? I just adore them. After we had been sick quite a few days I was out feeding the dogs and my girls walked out to find this on our back door:
Talk about being Jesus to someone. I love that my children got to see faith in action and someone was acting it out towards them. This was so cool. Never doubt that small actions can make a big difference, especially in the life of a child. A few days later, another close family friend dropped by to visit and gave my kiddos cookies and cupcakes. Just being thoughtful means so much. At different points during the week we also had family bring my fave coffee and drop off juice boxes for the kids.
Thanks to military families everywhere who do all kinds of adjusting constantly in order to support their soldiers who sacrifice for our country. Don’t lose hope.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Thanks for taking a peek into our life as a military family. We wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s made us stronger, appreciative of one another and has grown our faith in more ways than we could have ever imagined. Have a fantastic weekend!