Saturday, April 25, 2015

What a month.

My husband had been preparing for a six month (or longer) deployment for the past year.  We actually knew about this deployment before we were pregnant with Teddy - and even when we found out that we were expecting the sneaky little ninja baby, our plans didn't alter in any way.  We needed the money, he wanted to be with his guys...it was a sacrifice we were willing to make as a family that would be brutally painful in the short-term, but pretty darn good in many aspects in the long-term.

There is a whole lot of thought and planning that goes into getting ready for a longer deployment.  I won't even get in to all of the emotional hurdles and changes of mindset that my husband had to undergo to get ready.  That's his tale to tell.  From my perspective, however, I had to get ready to mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually be with two very young children on my own.  In particular, our two year old daughter is beyond attached to her daddy.  They have been thick as thieves since I was pregnant with her.  (She would be so still that it would frighten me, but when Tim would get home from work and we would be chatting, it would feel as if she jumped for joy in my womb.)  They're inseparable...and we were coming up to a point where they would be separated by time zones, with next to no communication.  No post-work cookie baking in her pretend kitchen, no wrestling, no story time, and no night-night snuggles for six-plus months.  Thinking about it would make me hyperventilate for her.

In thinking about taking care of Abby and a very new Teddy, I began to hyperventilate for me.  How was I supposed to handle the emotional stress of the deployment of my best friend and also be the strong one for my children?  Furthermore, what was I supposed to do when I needed a break of any kind?  We live out in the middle of nowhere, and I have to drive over an hour to reach any of my support network.  I have no friends out here, no family, no one that I can turn to in an un-showered, half-dead state to hand over the little bundle of joy and say "I either need a nap or I need a trip to Target.  Alone."  

With all of these factors in mind, we decided that I would move in with my in-laws.  They have plenty of space for me and the kids (where each of us could have our own room), and they were more than willing to help me out with the kids throughout the day.  Plus, they live only five to ten minutes away from my folks, who are also more than willing to help out but don't quite have the space for all three of us.  As much as I appreciate and love my families for their immediate offer to help, a darker corner of my heart was dreading the whole ordeal, solely because of the fact that I would not be in my home, with my stuff, and my rules.  That being said, though, I know my weaknesses, and I'm no longer too proud to admit when I need help.  So, we planned on moving.  

As the deployment drew closer, I began to spend more and more time in thought and prayer about whether or not I could manage my job and my children and my husband being gone for an extended period of time.  I already knew that, financially, we would be losing money to be putting our two kids into daycare full-time.  That being said, I loved my job.  I was really freaking good at it, the people that I worked with were so kind and funny and accommodating, and the work was rewarding.  When I brought up my concerns to them, they bent over backwards to make things work for me and my family in the short-term while Tim was gone.  My heart was so moved...but once I went on maternity leave and our little pudge was born, I had a full realization of what I was up against.  There's only one me, and I am no longer at a place in my life where I can pretend I'm Wonder Woman at the expense of those that I love and my own personal health.  I couldn't give my children all of the support and love that they would desperately need and give my job the attention and care that it deserved and make sure I was staying mentally and physically healthy.  I decided to put my notice in, and although it wasn't even close to an easy decision to make, I knew that putting my family (and my health) first was for the best. 

So now we arrive at about the two week marker before the deployment - and this is where things start to get, for lack of a better word, weird.  Everything - and I really, truly mean everything - was going wrong in regards to my husband's paperwork.  We still hadn't received orders for his trip, his life insurance paperwork was messed up, our Tricare information for our family was screwy, our marriage certificate got lost for the fourth time...we were spending more and more time out at the base trying to get him ready for the deployment and trying to make sure that all of the necessary pieces were in place to make sure that we were all safe and taken care of.  I began to get this sinking feeling in my gut.  "Something's not right," my brain kept nagging.  "This is bad.  All of this going wrong before he leaves...this is bad."

Finally, we received his orders, only to realize that something was horrifically wrong.  They had him listed as a "volunteer" as opposed to "involuntarily mobilized".  For those of you who don't speak military, this is bad.  Really bad.  Because my husband is a guardsman, he has a regular 9-5 job.  The reality is, although it is illegal for an employer to fire you while you're gone regardless of what the orders say, it's a whole lot easier to find the loopholes in an order that says "volunteer".  Under no circumstances could my husband leave this country with orders that said "volunteer".  

After speaking with everyone under the sun that could hear him out, everyone came to the conclusion that there was absolutely no way they could change the orders in time for the trip.  It was far easier to find someone to scoop up his orders who actually wanted to volunteer for the trip, rather than duck and dive through the bureaucracy and the massive amounts of red tape that come with writing out orders.  He was no longer going on the trip.  

"WONDERFUL," everyone exclaimed.  "Aren't you thrilled?!"

Well, yes.  I'm ecstatic to have him home safe with us.  I'm so happy that he will enjoy all of the little moments with our son - potentially our last baby - and he won't miss a day with our daughter.  I'm happy for his sake that he doesn't have to go through all of the bullshit that comes with being overseas away from family and friends.  

That being said:

-A year of planning.

-A year of changing our mindset.  Of thinking entirely differently than the rest of the world thinks.  A year of emotional detachment and an unholy amount of stress.

-A year of spending money on things that he would have needed overseas that we don't need here in the US.  Money that we don't have.  Money that we need now for things like formula and diapers.

-Quitting my job.  A job that I loved.  A job that loved me.

-Pulling my daughter from daycare.  A place where she thrived and learned and grew since she was five months old.  A place where I trusted and loved her teachers.

-All that money from the trip that we really, truly needed.  Not wanted - needed.  Money we planned on having by the end of this year to help us with high bills, home repairs, cars, various items for the kids...life's necessities in this day and age.

All of these tumultuous transitions, and all of the sleepless nights...all of the nightmares, all of the tears, all of the emotional distance...it all meant nothing within two weeks of the fucking trip.

So many people just can't understand where we're coming from on this.  We're well aware that life isn't all about money, but it's a whole lot more enjoyable and stress-free when your husband isn't working late nights and weekends.  And, as I've stated a multitude of times now, I quit my job.  

I've never in my life felt such frustration and helplessness.  I've never been so confused as to what I should be doing with myself.  I've never had a moment where my plan has gone so completely wrong.  I threw my hands up and yelled (yes, yelled) at the Lord.  "Alright!  Let me know whatever it is You have in mind for us!  Let me know - when it's convenient - how I am supposed to deal with this chaos while I'm dealing with the birth of a new child.  And by 'chaos', I mean 'paying the bills.' Oh, and if You could cut my over-worked, exhausted, and stressed-to-the-absolute-max husband a break, that would be particularly wonderful.  Whenever it's convenient!"  

(I'm not proud of this.  It's just the facts.  There's no point in sugar-coating any of this.)

That was the last time I "prayed" for quite a while.  I had no words, no thoughts, no iota of grace and understanding in my heart.  

My mom urged me to come with her to church on the Feast of the Divine Mercy - for no other reason than I was in town and taking the grandbabies to church is always a plus.  I sat down in the seat, gave my daughter some crayons and a coloring book, made sure my son was still snoozing, looked up at the crucifix and sighed.  "Alright," I thought.  "I'm here.  I'm sorry.  I'm listening."  

And I really did listen.  And I heard that, despite life being what it is, our role in life is not to test the Lord.  It's not to say "I will believe if x, y and z happen."  We are to believe.  We are to trust that God is with us.

The love of the Lord supersedes my anxiety, my focus on my family exclusively, my anger, and my overall nonsense.  It's hard to fully comprehend because I can't allow myself to see past my set plan most days...
I walked up to receive the Eucharist with my son sleeping in his car seat and my daughter on my hip...and I still felt all of the worries that I felt forty-five minutes earlier.  But, I took the Bread and with my "Amen," I prayed "It's going to be fine.  I don't know how, and it's not my job to know how - it's just my job to trust in You."

Still struggling.  Still worrying.  Still here.  Still praying.

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