Friday, June 6, 2008

Finding the Strength to Endure


This has been a weird week. Oliver left, came home one night, and then left again, this time for a lot longer. I've been struggling again today to pull it all together. Wyatt's been rather whiny and needy, and it was driving me crazy. At one point, he looked up at me and said, "I miss Daddy. I miss Daddy playing with me." And that made me think. A lot.

Deployment always seems to bring out the worst in me. There's "Tired Mama", and "Grumpy Mama", "Cereal-for-dinner Mama", and "Do-whatever-you-want Mama". I'm not particularly proud of any of these me's. When Oliver leaves, sometimes it feels like all the life was sucked out of our home and we're just existing until he returns. I hate that. Because in reality, life goes on. It doesn't go into a holding pattern just because the person who brings so much happiness to us all goes away. We have to find a way to make it work. We have to find a way to smile.

So when the sun finally came out later this evening, we went outside, all three of us. I watched Wyatt run around, laughing, and later we kicked a ball back and forth. They took a bath, and I was there, really living in the moment, focusing on them the way I knew I needed to.

I learned something today. Deployment may bring out the worst in me, but it also brings out the best. The truth is, when Oliver is here, I can coast. I don't have to face my bad side. I bring my strengths and he brings his; we meet in the middle and it just works. When he's coming home, he usually gets there between 3 and 4, right when Wyatt is needing the most attention and I'm obsessing about all the things I didn't get done that day. I can say, "Hey babe, I'm glad your home!", kiss him, then let Wyatt lead him away to play. I can hand over the crying baby and disappear into the kitchen to make dinner and do whatever else seems pressing.

I love being able to do that. But I also know it's just as important to learn what I don't do so well and fix it. My dirty little secret is that I don't like a lot of the things my kids do. I don't like watching cartoons, or building roads with blocks; I can live without linking train tracks together or coming up with yet another art project that seems to only produce more clutter that needs to be tossed later. Those are the things Oliver does. And he does it really, really well. So when he's gone, I have to do these things, even when I don't really want to.

Wyatt reminded me today that if I don't find a way to fill Oliver's shoes, at least temporarily, his grief will only be stronger, and it will be harder for me to walk this path. So I took him outside and I lived in the moment. I laughed with him, and was actually disappointed when he was done playing ball and wanted a bath. At bath time, I played with the toys instead of reading a book beside the tub while they splashed.

And you know what? I had fun. I focused on them and remembered all over again why I love these two wonderful, little boys, why I'm so glad they entered my life. I know I have a bond with them I wouldn't have been able to develop if their daddy was here all the time. When he's gone, we're like this little fortress of toughness. I may be the leader, but they pull me along and remind me where to put my feet.

So, no, I didn't marry a man who comes home every night and puts the kids to bed for me. I married a guy who has never had a regular chore around the house because it will always fall back to me when he leaves. I married a guy that forces me to fly by the seat of my pants all. the. time.

Ask me if I'd trade anything about my life right now, and I'd tell you absolutely not. There are some truly terrible things we've been forced to face and conquer, and we did. Every time. I know our marriage is stronger because of this, and I know I'm a person I wouldn't have been if I hadn't married a seafaring man. It's not the things that fall into place that teach you what happiness is; it's the things that don't, that test you and try you to the point you think you'll never prevail. I'm grateful God saw something in me I've never have and lead me down this path.

I'm right where I want to be.

9 sonar pings:

ABW said...

I can totally relate. 13 weeks down, 52 to go!

trying said...

excellent post. I feel the way you do when he leaves sometimes. there is just a different air about the house. But then you get kicked into momdad gear and you do what you need to do. I am thankful that being a military wife has showed me my strengths, my weaknesses, and those of our marriage. And all with such great benefits too! : )

tressays said...

Very nice post. I can totally relate especially to your different moms. I am a "do whatever you want" mom right now and it is bothering me. I still have a month of days ahead of me. I need to keep us busy and engaged.

Cute picture too! :)

sues2u2 said...

Congrats! You have written what everyone else wishes they could put so succinctly into words! I am so in awe of what you all have to do.

Hubby was in Korea for Desert Storm & retired before this mess all started. We've never had to face long deployments (being AF we would have had 1 yr deployments but Hubby was mobility for awhile & then did 3 others besides).

It is hard to be everything to our children but the strength & grace that you exhibit to them is wonderful. Your children will be just as strong as you @ your hubby are. You are also a wonderful example to the rest of us. Thanks!!

Emily said...

You are just such a good writer! I know I can't relate to having my husband gone for weeks at a time, but I can relate with living in the moment. My boys are really good when I just get down and play with them. Forget about the housework...it will always wait and be there. The boys will never be this small again, so take advantage of it and eat up every second! :)

Emily Snow said...

I remember about five years ago, someone in my ward bore testimony about "playing with your children". At the time, his son was about four years old and was really challenging him. He prayed about it and got the impression to simply set aside all the other things that he could get busy with and play with his son. It made a huge difference. It has always stuck with me. When I had Toby, Thomas wasn't immediately effected but about six weeks into being a family of four, he started to act up, I remembered what the guy from my ward said and also a talk that my mom had with me...about taking the time to play with our kids. Whenever Thomas starts acting up, I know he needs me to slow down.

Laura said...

Awesome perspective! I know that I need that kick to reexamine my priorities and thought processes every once ina while...

Mrs. Staff Sergeant said...

This was such a great post! I can so relate to all of it. You made me cry a little :)

Ang said...

I've been away from your post-recently haven't been online alot! So cute!