To say I’m learning a lot is an understatement. I felt that since I have been through so many deployments and underways, returning to sea duty with older kids wouldn’t be hard (er). I expected things to be different, but not any more difficult than before. That was until we transitioned and I realized how much my husband was contributing while on shore duty. It’s hard to explain, but I took the connivence factor for granted, not the husband. I knew having him home was an asset, a gift. I was more than thankful for his time, his ability to “be there” and the flexibility it gave me. Now, I’m realizing it’s back to sticky notes, calendars, lists, and remembering it’s ok to ask for help.( <–that last one is still a hard one for me.)
My brain *remembers* what it was like before, but I prefer to live in the moment. Some may call that having major denial issues, I call it being present without worry. It sounds ‘prettier’ my way, doesn’t it? So, when my husband started disappearing from the dinner table and not coming home for nights in a row, the bugging feeling from the back of my head started inching toward my acceptance of our new reality. At first I thought, no biggie. I can drive both kids to their functions, I’ve done it over and over before. I can mow the lawn, take out the trash, and all that jazz. That womanly, “I can do anything” feeling kicks in and I’m playing my favorite playlist in the house while multitasking, getting things done. *Oh, pay the bills… add that to the list. Make the kids doctor appointments, check! Messages are left from the dentist needing to reschedule cleanings…sure! I’ll call them back. Kids come home and make the comment, “the dogs nails are really long, mom!” I add ‘take dogs to groomers’ to my list. Before long, it’s 7pm and I just realized dinner might be a good idea. It would have been a better idea to realize this earlier and had gone to the store. Ooops. The days were getting away from me.
None of this is earth moving or anything more than what other families deal with. Really, it’s not a big deal. Balancing jobs, home life, kids…it’s what we create and choose to do. Most of these “to-do’s” are choices. The only difference for us is that we exists in one life style long enough to get really comfortable and *bam* it’s switches. I apparently forgot to hit the switch. My bad. We know as long as our spouses choose this career, we must choose to deal with the “revamping” of our own life. For most military careers, change is inevitable. You can look at it however you want, but I try to see the good in it. I see it as a chance to reevaluate prior choices, the opportunity to try new things, and most importantly, I see a fresh start. Do I always do it gracefully with color coded lists? Ha. No. I call it organized chaos. It takes me a few weeks of running late, forgetting things (and possibly a kid), and making mistakes. Life has changed since the last time we have done this and it clearly shows through my frantic adjustments.
Today I’m celebrating what some may consider a small accomplishment. I was able to register my daughter for the exact dance classes she wanted to take and make them somewhat coincide with my son’s preexisting soccer schedule. Doesn’t seem huge, does it? To me, it’s worth the happy dance I did. It means they can continue what took both my husband and I participating in, even though we are now ‘down a parent’. At 11 1/2 and 15 years old, my kids are finding their “passions.” They are becoming good at things and want to take their interest to a more serious level. This requires time, lots and lots of time. The feeling of making it ‘work’ is comforting.
The most important thing for me as a mother is family. Yes, my husband has a meaningful career that he is succeeding in and I can’t tell you how proud I am of him and his service. He and I agree though, that there is a balancing act between family and serving our country. We ask our children to give so much (mostly without choice). They move schools and leave friends. They live thousands of miles from family. They live for months (sometimes over a year), without their Dad. They didn’t ask for this. So, when we transition from shore duty back to sea duty aka, from a two parent household to a one parent household, it is extremely important to me that they don’t have to give up their, “loves.” Today, when I was able to mesh their schedules and pretty much be in two places at once, that means the world to me and will thrill them. They’re each encouraged to pick one thing and I do my best to make it work. It doesn’t always end well, but today it did. It means that the transition will be easier. Do things stay exactly the same for my children? No. I wish I really could be divided into two and they carry on just the same, but the reality is I am one person and I will do my best, but we are a team and we all compromise to bring balance to our family.
So, today I celebrate “the small stuff.” I’m celebrating my full, but organized calendar, and more importantly, the ability to find balance in this crazy military life.
Cheers to the parents out there, “making it happen!” Civilian, Military, I raise my glass to you!