MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #15

So over on Wife of a Sailor, Wife posts questions for other bloggers to answer on their own military spouse blogs. (Still with me so far?) And since I’m multitasking (waiting for a pocket of time to shower for tomorrow’s sub job while cooking tomorrow’s lunch, letting the dogs run around indoors for a change, squeezing in a couple of loads of laundry), I thought this might be fun to fill out while the chicken poaches in onions, garlic, and chicken broth. I’ll thrown in a couple cups of spinach and cherry tomatoes in an hour and voila! Our lunch (and dinner) for tomorrow!

1. My plans for this weekend include Zumba followed by all day at the pool, but what I’d really like to do is…

GO SHOPPING! Oh, how I’ve missed scouring end-of-season sales and stocking up on kids’ jeans at Old Navy during their $10 jeans sale. I’ve missed sauntering from Nordies to LOFT to MAC, my perfect trinity of bathroom and closet needs. I’ve missed hunting for bargains at TJ Maxx and clearance racks at Ann Taylors, LOFT and regular (even though between you and me, I can’t afford regular without a full-time job).

Budgeting is A MUST and even though we may see better financial times in the next few years, I hope that I will continue to be thrifty and a bit more conservative with spending with still the occasional spree at the end of each season.

2. I consider the Labor Day holiday…

as a reminder of a new school year even though our kids have been in school since July. I get all goofy like Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail”, waiting for fall to arrive and excited over back-to-school stuff like sharpened pencils and an empty bulletin board.

3. My favorite meal for cookouts is NOW HUSBAND’S HONEY DIJON CHICKEN, but HE wouldn’t agree.

He is a “red meat” person and loves slow and low burning brisket on the grill though since the accident and our impending mid-life crises (I know, I know. We’re only in our late thirties but we’re trying to eat healthier when we remember) he has a new appreciation for chicken and fish. Still, give him the choice and we know what he’d pick.

4. So far, my favorite part of summer has been SLOWING DOWN.

I pulled the kids out of gymnastics when we went to Virginia in April and when I got back, I was called in for jury duty for a two month criminal trial! In that time, everything ended. I’m talking about sub jobs, catechism for our oldest (that’s Catholic Faith Formation or CFF; kinda like Bible school), Girl Scouts for the older daughter… all those ending with the school year. It was really nice to have evenings free and even nicer when they weren’t in school.

Another great thing about the summer (or maybe life in general) is that all of us as a family are beginning to look at what’s important. Saving money is a huge priority to us so we’re finding ways to save without noticing such as finding the FREE DAYS to museums or attractions around town and taking advantage of the pool at our gym since it’s a necessary expense for me. Spontaneous play dates at the park or pool have been great as well. This summer I’ve started to really let the kids be in charge in meal prep and clean up in general. My sanity may be returning. We shall see…

5. When it comes to deployments, my philosophy is DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.

Every deployment was different for me. I was very tempted to move back home for R’s first deployment and could you blame me? I was a newlywed for six weeks, left a career, left my family, and moved to the opposite end of the country.

But for some reason I didn’t want to move back. Even now it’s hard for me to articulate why. Perhaps it’s because we were living a life together and I wanted to hold onto what we had together which was our small two-bedroom apartment in Augusta. Maybe it’s because I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to marry this wonderful, caring, selfless man so I should suck it up.

I didn’t think it could get any worse during deployment than having two young children in preschool, teaching first grade, and being pregnant! OH BUT IT DID as you all know…

Have a great weekend!

Deflated and a couple of disappointments

You know when you first start dating someone sometimes you gain a little weight. Too many restaurants. Too many visits to the bars and clubs. Too many after-hours Taco Bell runs because drinking and dancing really work up an appetite.

And then you see a picture of yourselves on one of your first vacations together and you think, “Who is this girl and why does she look like she slathered cottage cheese on her arms?” Eeeeek!

The weight for the both of us eventually came off. Of course, his came off faster and easier. We vowed not to let ourselves indulge so often.

Then married life kicks in and darn it if everything in Georgia is deep-fried. Everything’s bigger in Texas. Hello? THREE LITER SODA BOTTLES?

Don’t forget having some babies thrown into the mix.

Then the deployments started in Virginia. When R wasn’t deployed, he would go on out-of-state trainings for weeks at a time. Most times he’d come home late Friday night and then leave that Sunday.

There was very little time to do anything. Our kids were very disappointed when Daddy was home for literally thirty-six hours every other month. The only time that was left was for tense conversations about who had it worse and how much this duty station sucked ass.

That and entering WE’RE-ON-VACATION-SO-FUCK-IT mode. You know how when you go on vacation you want to do everything and try all the different food and not pay attention to portion size, fat, and/or calories? Well, that’s what we did.

Let’s hurry up and indulge while we can before Daddy leaves. Let’s hurry up and eat Cold Stone Creamery, Chick-Fil-A, Ruby Tuesday (OMG, their salads!), [fill in every calorific place you can think of]! We don’t have to work out or do anything active because Daddy’s only here for a little while!

So is the story of the yo-yo twenty-something pounds that have plagued me for the last decade or so. Every single time I whittle away at that yo-yo and I think the pounds are gone, a little blue line appears on a plastic stick.

Don’t get excited now. While I’m starting to whittle away once again, I AM NOT PREGNANT.

No. I’m not. Not even a little bit pregnant.

This morning I woke up pretty excited to have made some small changes in exercise and diet. I didn’t weigh myself; I go by how my pants are fitting.

Some of you have been blessed and/or have worked hard NOT to have a belly so you might not know what I’m talking about when you start to lose inches from your midsection. Do you know how when a playground ball starts to deflate, it gets wider at the bottom? Yep, it’s happening to me and it’s a bummer but remembering that analogy makes me feel a little better. I could sort of see that happening but nothing noticeable in my arms or legs.

I was disappointed that I wasn’t seeing more results. I know I must be patient and slower weight loss is optimal but come on, can’t I go down a pants size now? Surely I must have lost weight SOMEWHERE.

And then I put my bra on and the damn thing was too big in the cup size.

A couple of disappointments indeed.

Conversations before goodbye

Before every deployment, it is rather safe to say that everything is… well, tense. It starts from the moment you find out the day he is supposed to leave until two days before he actually does.

The anxiety level goes up about ten notches in the house. There’s a rush for everything. Make a honey-do list that only he can do because Lord knows you don’t want to call anyone from his work to do it. Go to the kids’ favorite restaurants so we can spend a gazillion dollars at Chuck E. Cheese on skee ball and mediocre pizza. Take the kids anywhere and everywhere you think the kids would be able to take mental pictures of having fun with Daddy, as proof that even though he was gone all the time he still loved them and loved spending time with them. That lasts about a week. Maybe two. Then things change.

For the worse. Voices get louder. Patience is thinning.

You argue about who has it better and I dare say that I thought he did. While I stayed home and happily raised our children, I denied myself years out of the classroom and unable to get tenure in any school district. I also didn’t earn the doctorate in education I thought I’d have by the time I was thirty-five. He has traveled and studied in countless states and in many European countries.

You get annoyed. Pickier. What once were reasonable requests are now suddenly unreasonable. How the heck am I supposed to know you’d go through a dozen fire hot sauce packets from Taco Bell? I am not allowed to buy a pair of shoes from Nordstrom anymore? What the heck?

Then two days before he actually leaves the emotional bubble bursts but only because of a huge blow up that neither of us really remember why we were arguing in the first place. Almost simultaneously we both realize that we need to stop talking and start listening. The walls that we built that are supposed to protect each other from what we are feeling have fallen. We kept the feelings of sadness, regret, depression, nausea, jealousy, and fear inside to keep from hurting the other when holding them in feels like the right thing to do. No one wants to feel helpless, vulnerable, and miserable let alone share this with their spouse.

In that moment the tension disappears and the missing of one another begins. The apologies take over. The memories of simpler times of shore duty all two years of our ten year marriage and training workshops held in town flood into our conversations.

Also flooding into our conversations are our goodbyes. Quiet words after the kids have long been snoring about how much deployment sucks and how we look forward to finally LIVING TOGETHER UNDER THE SAME ROOF.

Neither of us want to talk about it but we have to: Who will be the one who notifies me if something happened to him? His friend J would come to the door with news. Every time we’d get to this part of the conversation, I’d joke, “Well, I just won’t answer the door.”

Every time he’d say, “But it wouldn’t change anything.”

Then we’d sigh and wipe our tears and hold each other until we’d fall asleep.

I thought that we had our last conversations before goodbye (I can tell I’m getting emotional because I just got up to get a homemade triple chocolate brownie and yes, it’s GOOD) last March before the accident but we may be having another set of these conversations again.

Yes, you read correctly. He’s thinking about deploying one last time.

His last Officer in Charge outright told him that he was going to do everything in his power to keep my husband from ever deploying again and I secretly cheered and sighed with relief. The OIC (I’m pretty sure that’s the correct abbreviation; feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) recently transferred which means my husband can and will be medically cleared to deploy.

Those close to me have asked me how I feel about this and don’t get me wrong, I didn’t roll over and agree with everything he suggested about another possible deployment. I may have used a few choice words; after all, I have been married to a sailor for the past decade. But as much as I hate to admit it: this is something he needs to do. No matter how I feel about another deployment, I will not stand in his way. I fear that if he doesn’t do what he is compelled to do, he will live a life of regret and wonder if he did the right thing.

No one wants that. I don’t want that for him. I wouldn’t want that for myself.

Even now, sometimes he says that he should have never done the job he used to do but I know that this particular position was challenging for him physically, mentally, and emotionally. He definitely would have always wondered “What if…?” had he not followed through. And yes, I would have had to hear it for the rest of my life.

Who knows what life has in store for him or for us? All I know is that we need to cut the WHAT IFS out of our lives and either do something about it OR accept that we can’t or won’t.

My mind walks the edge of possibilities of another deployment to which I am not afraid. WHAT IFS about another deployment don’t exist in my mind. They’re not allowed.

To the outsider, it may seem like he’s tempting fate by deploying again after a near-fatal deployment. But to me, it will just be more conversations before goodbye.