Saturday, September 1, 2007

Two Months Into This Deployment

This was written earlier on in this deployment but I thought it would be perfect here.


It has been 4 weeks, 3 days, and 8 hours since we said goodbye to our soldier, Mr. Fix it, Mr. One More Story before Bed, Mr. Let Mom Sleep in on Sundays. I knew it was going to be hard; after all I have been through this once before, only I had 3 kids then instead of the 5 I have now. I just didn’t realize that when other wives said “if it can go wrong, it will” they really meant it, they weren’t overreacting or being sarcastic.

Week one went by as normal as it gets around here. The kids played soccer in the living room, pulled every diaper out of the drawer, spilled cheerios all over the den floor, and unraveled a whole roll of toilet paper. But this was nothing I couldn’t handle. I dealt with this everyday while he was home so I thought it couldn’t be too difficult. Then I remembered I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the following week. Who was I going to get to babysit? The only friends I have are a 45 minute drive from here and I felt like a burden asking the neighbor. They always assured me it was no problem though.

Week two came and went but it was a bit harder than the previous week. I found myself being short with the kids. I wasn’t as tolerable of their usual antics and I was really emotional. I cried watching daytime television, primetime television, and The Disney Channel. Dinner consisted of macaroni and cheese or ramen noodles with one night of dinner out because I just didn’t want to cook. Yes, I ventured to take all 5 kids out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse all ALONE. It was kid’s night so it worked in our favor. We went before the dinner rush hit and got ice cream afterwards. It was actually a more relaxing night than the previous trip when daddy was with us. I still wasn’t quite myself though. Was I on the verge of depression? Maybe. Or was I just realizing that my husband was overseas in a combat zone and I was going to have a really difficult time on my own? It was more than likely the latter. From what I hear it is normal to be like this upon your husband’s deployment, even if you weren’t an emotional wreck during the first.

Week three came as a complete shock. I met a friend at the mall after school on Tuesday. I figured the indoor play place would be a good way to let the kids run off some energy so maybe they would go to bed at a decent hour. My friend had to get going so we parted ways and I asked the kids what they wanted for dinner. Of course they opted for the mall food court. I reluctantly agreed but having to walk to the food court would soon change my mind. Monkey and Wadie were not listening and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with strangers staring at me as if I didn’t know how to control my children. The fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter how I handle the situation, I will always be doing the wrong thing in some bystander’s mind. I turned the stroller around, plopped my 2 year old in with the two babies and said “We are going home, now!” which did not sit well with my 4 year old. He had a meltdown in the middle of the mall and I could feel about 50 eyes all staring in the direction of a little boy’s screeching. I ended up carrying him out of the mall while pushing the double stroller, which was definitely a sight to see. At that moment I thought I would never step foot in public with all 5 kids again. Wednesday was grocery day. I was doing fine after getting the two oldest off to school until I hit the card aisle at Kroger. All I needed was an envelope but I knew I should at least buy a card especially since I would need one for father’s day. Every card I read made me cry. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling, they just kept coming one right after another. I grabbed the perfect card, the one that first made me tear up and I got out of there before they had to call for a clean up on aisle 3. This was the day my anxiety attacks started. I had plans to go to a wedding in Cleveland on Saturday but I had a knot in my stomach. Babysitters were in place, plane ticket was bought and the seating chart for the reception had my name on it. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I shouldn’t go. I was beyond scared that something bad was going to happen and I cried just thinking about it. By Thursday I had cancelled my plans and still couldn’t shake the feeling I had. I went to playgroup feeling like an outsider and came home to veg on the couch while the kids had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. Friday morning I had changed my mind once again when the groom called me about my cancelled hotel room. I felt terrible about not being there for the wedding. I arranged for my sitters to still watch the kids and I didn’t start packing until 930 when I was planning on leaving at 10. It was 1020 and I was just getting ready to change Wadie’s clothes and head out the door when John instant messaged me. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the needle in the balloon. I knew that was my sign that I shouldn’t go. I cancelled all my plans once again and cried each time I had to explain why I wasn’t coming. I always knew I was crazy, now everyone else knows it too.

Week 4 was the kids’ last week of school. The kids had tons going on at school in preparation for the end of the school year. Even though I just went grocery shopping the previous week there were still some things I needed. I decided to make jam for the teachers’ end of the year gifts. I thought it would be fun for the kids to help with and it’s consumable so it’s not going to take up space in a landfill somewhere if they don’t like it. I always seem to amaze my friends when I tell them I’m making something like cookies or, in this case, jam but I make easy things. I wouldn’t be crocheting blankets for them or anything now that would be amazing. We had parent teacher conferences, a summer program meeting, the awards ceremony and the Pre-K end of the year program this week. As if that weren’t enough, this was the week that everything fell apart; besides me of course, I fell apart the week before this. I forgot to take the garbage out on Monday, someone broke the toilet seat on Tuesday, got a notice to move my van out of the yard on Wednesday only to find that it has a dead battery, Tivo decided to stop working unexpectedly on Thursday, and Friday was the last day of school. While this doesn’t sound like my whole life turned upside down in one week, I assure you it was worse than it sounds. Our garbage can fills up fast, it has to go out on Monday or there won’t be enough room for another weeks worth of garbage in it. I don’t usually forget, I hadn’t forgotten yet and to be honest the garbage men don’t usually come until after 4 so I thought I had plenty of time to get home and take it out. That had to be the day they came early. The dead battery on the van would be no big deal if I knew how to use jumper cables. I’ve never done anything more on a car than pump gas and I was scared to do that for the first time at the age of 18. Here I am still a chicken at the age of 26, scared to try recharging the battery. The van has to be moved by tomorrow, so guess what I will be doing. I don’t have any idea who broke the toilet seat or how they did it. All I know is it is broke right in half and now I need to fix that too. The Tivo had been working perfectly for quite some time and I should have known it was too good to last. John was always the one to get it up and running again. I couldn’t just call him to ask him how to fix it. I wish it was that simple as making a quick phone call. By a stroke of luck I got it working again after several attempts, just in time to record my soaps. Friday being the last day of school is pretty self explanatory. We have been in this routine of getting up and going to school for 9 months now and all of a sudden I am being thrust back into being home with all 5 kids all day long, with no help at all. It’s not a question of whether I can do it or not, but more of a challenge to be able to do it and not lose my mind at the same time.


Brad said...

I just wanted to leave you a note to let you know that at least 1 American citizen appreciates not only the sacrifice your husband is making, but the sacrifice your family is making as well. Freedom truly isn't free. Many families are paying the price just having to get through day to day life without daddy (or mommy). Just try to take comfort in the fact he is doing something necessary and good and it is appreciated no matter how the media makes it seem.

Thank you!

Brad said...

By the way, if you ever need fix-it advice, don't hesitate to e-mail me. If I lived closer, I'd do the fix-it chores for you.