Back on Land

He deploys, and I make a life back on land.


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I’m Sick of Your I’m Sorry’s

I’ve heard it far too many times from too many spouses who are just doing their best holding down the fort during deployment. I’m sorry my house is so messy. I’m sorry we were late. I’m sorry I’m just so darn tired.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Well, I’M SORRY, but just stop it! I’m sick of your I’m sorry’s because … you have nothing to be sorry for.

I'm Sick of Your I'm Sorry's

I was recently sitting with a spouse who apologized for the late hour, the messy house, and a litany of other imagined offenses, and then she said, “I don’t know what to do. I’m just trying to hold down the fort until he comes home.”

My heart just broke for her. It wasn’t enough that she was in a tough moment. She was also beating herself up over a few dirty dishes and a basket of laundry.

I turned to her and said, “Ummm … are the kids doing alright?”

“Oh yeah!” she nodded.

“Is everybody eating well?”

“Of course!” she grinned.

“Are you halfway caught up on laundry and dishes and still getting homework done and wrangling all those happy babies?”

Her smile broke a little then and she said, “Yes, but not like if he was here…”

Imagine that! The work of two people isn’t done perfectly when only one person is doing it!!! What a revelation!

I said it to her, and I’ll say to you now. Stop being sorry for only being one person. Stop apologizing for your fort when it appears to me you’re holding it down just fine. Would the wash be caught up and the dishes put away if your sailor was home? Probably! It’s easier to do those things when the kids can bug someone else for a change! Would the broken dishwasher or the missing keys be a big deal if he was here? Probably not! Because two people working together usually have more success than just the one.

Sometimes we idealize our sailors because it seems that things just go more smoothly when they are home, but what we don’t realize is that WE are a PART of that smoothness. We are a part of the solutions. We are HALF of a whole, and when one half is missing, it stands to reason that things might not work out quite the same way.

Now don’t get me wrong … our sailors are pretty great. They come home from a long deployment and just jump right back into the mix, and it is wonderful when they can shoulder some of the burden that we’ve been carrying for so long.

But … I think we’re pretty great, too. I think we’re doing okay, and I think those pretty great sailors are pretty darn proud of everything we do and how we hold down these forts while they are gone.

And I’m sorry, but that’s nothing to be sorry about.

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6 Tips for Homecoming Day

The time has come.

You’ve waited for him and longed for him. You’ve written emails and waited endlessly for replies. You’ve sent all your love and two pounds of candy in a gallon ziploc bag twice (if you were lucky), but now the waiting is over. It’s almost here. HE’S almost here, and here are 6 Tips for Homecoming Day.

6 Tips for Homecoming Day2

  1. Find out if your sailor has first-day duty. It’s no fun to show up, dressed to the nines and smiling like a lovesick fool, only to find out your sailor isn’t leaving the boat today. A lot of sailors have duty the first day because SOMEONE has to continue the work, and that could mean you won’t even SEE him until tomorrow. Find out ahead of time and avoid the disappointment.
  2. Dress to impress … and to wait. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl even for homecomings, but I’ve seen some beautiful spouses, fiance’s, and girlfriends dressed better for homecoming than I did my wedding! If that’s your thing then I say go for it, but remember you WILL be waiting. Possibly for a really, really long time, and DEFINITELY in a large crowd of families. Maybe wear flats, bring heels. Bring a sweater in case it’s cold (or to stay covered up) and supplies to touch up hair and make-up. It may be a long day, but if you’re prepared, you can stay pretty as picture until you see your sailor!
  3. Be prepared. This is NOT the day to skip breakfast. This is not the day to wear brand new (read: not broken in) high heels. This is not the day to forget to charge your phone. Be prepared. Did I say that twice? I meant to say it three times. Be prepared.
  4. Bring your camera (if you are permitted). I have been celebrating homecomings for thirteen years, and I have photos from exactly ONE of them. It breaks my heart that all those years, all those memories, are only just that … memories. As I get older the details will fade, and there will be no way for my kids to remember them. Snap away! (Again, if you are permitted. Follow the rules, people!)
  5. Pay attention to your kids. Homecoming can be such a great time, but it can also be confusing and difficult for the kids. I remember watching Sydney run out to bus after bus at our first homecoming on this boat. She ran to greet each one for over five hours, and it nearly broke me watching her little heart break each time. I know it’s been a long patrol for you, too, but you still need to be the strong one for one more day.
  6. Savor the moments, even the ones that aren’t yours. Homecomings are just beautiful. Sit back and really see them. First timers so filled with longing. Last timers ready to move on to their next chapter. First time seeing a pregnant belly, or first time holding a brand new life. These moments, these memories, are what we will take with us. These are the reasons we do this.

 Do you have a tip to share in the comments? Fill in the blank: I always ____________ for homecoming, and I will NEVER _______________ for homecoming again. I’d love to hear your homecoming stories in the comments!!!

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You Might Be a Sub Spouse If …

Yes, we’re all military spouses, but some things are kind of particular to submarine spouses. Give me an “AMEN!” if you feel me …

You Might Be a Sub Spouse if

 

  1. Sometimes hearing “You’ve got mail!” is better than hearing “It’s a girl!” or “You’ve just won …”
  2. Then you get your hopes dashed when it isn’t sailor mail but rather a JC Penney sale flyer and two ads to drugs that will NOT enhance your particular anatomy (and you keep click refreshing no matter how many times this happens …)You've Got Mail
  3. Saying the word “duty” DOESN’T even make you giggle anymore …
  4. When someone speaks of homecoming in public, even in loose terms, your heart beats like a hammer, you begin to sweat profusely, and you might even blurt out “OPSEC!!!!”opsec
  5. You know phone trees aren’t just for the PTA anymore.
  6. You can squeeze two magazines, a box of Cheezits, a clear container of homemade cookies, two pounds of candy, one pound of beef jerky, 26 letters, and 200 4×6 photos into a one gallon maildrop bag and STILL close it without using tape.
  7. You get a little jealous when you see signage, news coverage, and weeks of hoopla every time a carrier returns to port.

    stennis

    We still love you, Stennis! We’re just a little jealous … 😦

  8. You want to scream when another military spouse talks about Skyping with his/her service member.
    skype
  9. You’ve spent $20, $40, $60, or maybe 100 bucks to win a First Kiss.
  10. The very sight of a submarine, THAT submarine, can be simultaneously majestic, humbling, heartbreaking, and joyous … oh, and DAMN SEXY!!!maine

God, I love my sailor!

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My Deployment Slump

As I posted on Facebook last week, I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. Nothing major, just your average ordinary slump. I miss my sailor. I miss having back-up with the kids, and I miss having someone to vent all my frustrations with. I just plain miss him, and that’s okay. It’s a natural part of deployment, and I know how important it is to remind myself that feeling sad and lonely is okay. However, I also know that I’m not the best mom, wife, friend, and person I can be when I’m wallowing in a “poor me party.” Lucky for me this weekend boasted all I needed to pull me out of the dumps and push back into my “I got this!

How did I get out of my slump?

  1. Sunshine and fresh air. This weekend was a magnificent, and I soaked up the sunshine all weekend! On Saturday, I took the girls to the park, and we all enjoyed some time in the sun. Fresh air always makes me feel better, and after a week of cloudy days, I really needed that shot of Vitamin D from above!
  2. Volunteering. If you know me, you know volunteering is my jam. Seriously. PTO, Girl Scouts, FRG, Compass, Ombudsman, Room Mom, or Team Mom … I’ve done them all! If there’s a volunteer spot, I want to fill it because it feels great to help people! This weekend I volunteered to fill baskets at my local Bountiful Baskets site. Not only did I get my helping fix, I also met some new people and felt a sense of community. I struggle with a feeling of “not fitting in” here in Washington, but for some reason, on that day, counting out peppers and pomegranates, I felt like part of something local.
  3. Spending time with friends. Also on Saturday I spent time with the spouses of my Family Readiness Group for a really fun social event. Just being around people, good people, who know what I’m going through right at this moment made me feel better. It’s always good to know you’re not alone.
  4. Remember what’s important. On Sunday afternoon, the last day of the last official weekend of Fall, I took my girls down to the water for a quick photo shoot. I wanted to have a few pics to remind us all how beautiful summers are in Washington when we’re in the thick of the rainy season. The photos came out great! Plus we all got a little more sun on our skin, and we had fun doing it!

IMG_9581b

Last week was tough. It hurts to miss someone you love so much, and it hurts to be in those slumps because then the blues build up. I was sad because I missed him so I was grumpy to my kids. Then my kids were grumpy so we were all arguing a bit more, and when there’s arguing going on my home, I’m certainly going to have less patience with the world around me, and that just opens up a whole new can of worms. It stinks. Plain and simple. That’s why it’s important to recognize when you’re in a slump and be prepared with your own list of things that always make you happy. I know that I need sunshine and people more than anything. Lucky for me, I was able to enjoy both all weekend long and come out of my slump in no-time!

Do you know your own signs of a slump? What are they, and what do YOU do about it?

 


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What Will You Complain About Today?

 

Will you complain that he has duty? Will you complain because he has to work late?

Remember that when you haven’t seen him for a week. It wasn’t that bad …

Will you complain that you’ve only seen him for six hours over the last 96 during refit?

Remember that when you haven’t seen him for a month, and six hours sounds like heaven.

Will you complain that he left his boots in the middle of the floor?

Remember that when he’s been gone six weeks, and you would give anything to see those boots again.

Will you complain that departure has been extended for the third time?

Remember that when return has been extended as well.

Will you complain when it’s been a week since you saw his face?

Remember that when you haven’t had an email in three.

Will you complain when his pillow smells more like you than him?

Remember that on those offcrew days, in the midst of an argument, when you wish he could go out to sea for just. a. few. damn. days.

Will you complain when homecoming times change AGAIN?

Remember that when you wrap your arms around his neck for the first time in months.

Will you complain when he doesn’t show up on the first homecoming bus or the second or the third?

Remember that as you walk away with him, hand in hand, past other wives still waiting.

Will you complain when there is no stand down, when one crew has to support the other even though they’ve already been gone SO LONG?

Remember that when he comes home at night, as other wives begin their lonely night journeys.

Will you complain that this life is so hard? That deployments last too long? That you just can’ do this without him again?

Remember that every single time you see a Gold Star.

What will you complain about today?

What Will You Complain About Today


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I Got This! (But You Might Disagree)

I had  a revelation yesterday. It was equal parts empowering and freeing, with a hint of hilarity and a moment of self-doubt. All within the span of about 25 minutes.

I Got This

Driving home from Compass, as Alli napped in her car seat and Jack Johnson crooned about banana pancakes on the radio, I was feeling pretty damn good about myself. I’d just finished up another great session, feeling like I’d had one of my best teaches ever, like I’d found my groove as the Food Coordinator, and already excited for next month’s class. Though busy, the week has been all around pretty good at home, too. No fast food, healthy lunches, clean clothes for everybody, homework done, happy kids. Boom! I GOT THIS!!!

I got home, parked the car in the garage (all the while congratulating myself for being so clearly awesome), and walked into the family room. A strange, unpleasant smell and an overly excited chihuahua met me at the door. Two baskets of laundry taunted me from the couch while a crowded floor begged to be picked and vacuumed. As I entered the kitchen, I was further taunted by a sad sink full of dishes crying out to be washed. My house was speaking to me, and it was saying,

“Oh yeah? You got this? I disagree.”

I immediately began to doubt myself. Have I got this? Really? REALLY?! How can I say “I got this!” when this house is such a mess?!? I sat there for a moment taking it all in, trying to sort out my feelings, before I realized,

“Oh yeah, I GOT THIS! I really do!!!”

So my house isn’t showroom ready today. If I’m being honest, it never is. On my best days, I’m lucky to see a clear and vacuumed floor. I mean, a family of five lives here. We kick off our shoes wherever we land after a long day. Alli colors more pictures than my refrigerator can hold and leaves them here there and everywhere for me to enjoy. We have frequent movie nights that REQUIRE loads of cuddly blankets that remain scattered all around. All those things equal a messy family room, but they also equal a happy family.

As for the kitchen, on one hand dirty dishes mean we cooked and we ate. Feeding my family makes me happy, and eating makes us ALL happy. On the other hand, dirty dishes also mean that I’ve fed my girls one less fast food meal, and as we struggle with a deep and unabiding love of McDonald’s, I call that a win! How often are your “on one hand or the other” choices BOTH so positive?

And the smell? The “mess” that the excitable little chihuahua made? Well, Charity has joined right into the fray of teaching this impatient momma the art of letting it go. Messes happen, and that’s precisely why I own a carpet cleaner. Besides how long can you really be angry with this little face?

charity

My house is, admittedly, a hot freaking mess today, but I’m okay with that. Are you okay with that? Maybe not. Maybe your “I got this!” moment comes from a desire to deep clean and a sense of pride in sparkling counters and neatly folded t-shirts and underwear. Maybe my “I got this!” week  sounds terrible to you. That’s okay!!! You scrub your kitchen; I’ll catch up later. We’ll both be happy. You don’t have to like the things that fulfill me, and I could never attain the immaculate home that makes some people tick.

But if I’ve had a great week and your house sparkles, do you know what that means to me? It just means we’ve BOTH got this … in our own ways … separate from one another yet sharing that awesome feeling of accomplishment. WE GOT THIS!!!

 


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You Must Be Used To It By Now, Right?

I hear it all the time …

“Josh is gone again? Well … you must be used to it by now, right?”

I know you don’t mean to be hurtful. I know you simply don’t understand my world, but I don’t know how to answer so I just smile and nod and change the topic.

Am I used to it by now?

Well, we have been at this for a while, fourteen patrols I believe, so I am prepared, if that’s what you mean. I have maintenance on speed dial and a good relationship with a mechanic, just in case. I have the Powers of Attorney and the Will, heaven forbid. We discussed the bills, routine maintenance, expectations and reality. We’ve made decisions about the kids, about the finances, about the just-in-case-this-happens emergencies. We’ve marked off every box of the almighty Pre-Deployment Checklist we’ve created over the years. I am as prepared as I can be.

But am I used to it by now?

No, I am not. I will never get used to sleeping alone or waking up hugging a lukewarm pillow. I will never get used typing a carefully worded version of my feelings every night and praying that he reads my love between the lines. I will never get used to family holidays minus my other half, and I will never get used to celebrating my anniversary alone.

I will never get used to sleeping with the only letter I may see in three months under my pillow just because his hands touched it so recently. I will never get used to telling my kids how proud their dad would be, is always, and will be when we are able to share their daily achievements, and I will never get used to hearing a four-year-old say wearing daddy’s old worn t-shirt is “almost like a daddy hug.”

I will never get used to making the decisions alone that we couldn’t have anticipated. I will never get used to the fear of losing a loved one while he’s gone and handling it on my own. I will never get used to my kids’ tears when it’s been a bad day or week, and just having Dad here would ease the strain. I will never get used to that.

I can’t complain much because we also live homecomings that are indescribably amazing. We get to live here, there, and everywhere and see all that this beautiful country has to offer. I’ve made friends I would never have met had we not shared this life.

But will I ever get used to losing my husband for months at a time?

Dear God, I hope not.