Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This Much I Know

Things I've learned in the past three months of the deployment:

You think you know, but you have no idea.
(Isn't that a tagline so a TV show?)
Really, you can imagine all you want but until you've done this (with kids) you have no clue. Until I did this, myself, I had no idea. I appreciate when people try to relate: I really do. I often want to ask [the person] if you've ever tried to tell your three year old that Daddy will return one day, just not tomorrow...or the next day, or the next. Have you ever had to remind your not-yet two year old that he has a father and that the tall Chinese man is not him (thanks, sir, for entertaining my son). Have you ever sat on the floor and held your kids because they were upset by the DVD of Daddy reading books? Have you ever missed the one phone call your husband managed to make or received an email response that said "Hey, I'm on my way up to watch." after writing a novella? To the lady in the store: please don't give me pity looks because my kids have no shoes (only socks), one is covered in dirt and the other has on a Lightening McQueen bathing suit over his pants in 30 degree weather. It wasn't worth the fight.
I'm not complaining, I'm just saying remember until you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes don't judge anyone.

Ask for help, or buy the help you need!
I can't do everything and still feel good about myself. There's a lot of give and take around here these days. Mostly, it's me givegivegivegiveing until I about pass out (not so good for the ol' fetus growing). During this month, April, I'm focusing on learning a "beauty" routine. In this case, it means spending the money on my favorite products because I'm not taking the time to get my toes done, or getting my hair trimmed as often as is needed. These products make me feel good, look half decent and are worth the pretty pennies. I'm learning when to wash my hair so that I can straighten it, practicing face washing and teeth brushing 101, remembering to shave and use moisturizers and giving myself quick pedicures. It may sound funny, but I actually have to time these things. When it comes down to it, showering is totally off my radar when one kid is crashed in my bed, one is on the couch and the guest shower sucks. Which brings me to my next point...

Do what you want and need to survive.
For the first two months, the kids were in their beds but I was up every single night for one reason or another. Turner peed out of his diaper because we forgot to potty before laying down, Eli was getting his two year molars, someone had a bad dream or Turner was popping in my room several times a night just to check and see if John had sneaked in the back door. What ever the reason, I wasn't sleeping. Ever. Eventually, Turner started sleeping with me and after our illnesses in March Eli has made his way in bed with us. I'm totally fine with this situation for now because it's how we all sleep best. You do what you have to do to get by. For us, it's not rectifying the sleeping situation but just rolling with it.

Simplify, simplify.
Mr. Thoreau had it right. Just simplify. I had this grand notion I was going to be super mom through all this. Rock the play dates, bake up a storm to decorate some cakes, create awesome dinners, look gorgeous (bwa hahaha), and just be awesome for my boys. When I felt like I was failing every day I took a good long look and realized the boys didn't want arts and crafts by the ton, they didn't want to walk around the neighborhood with an agenda, they could care less that I fresh baked goods for the morning: they just needed me. Me. Nothing else. So, I said no to the play groups, dropped my position as the ship's FRG Treasurer, gave up my ideas for Mom's Night Out and just sat on the floor to play. The more simply we live our days, the happier Turner and Eli are. Our meals are simple, or activities are easy, and our play isn't calculated. No fuss, no frills, just simple.

If it doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger.
I know, trite. It's true, though. Before the week of illness nothing was incredibly difficult. Some days are harder than others but we still smile at the end of each day. When the fog of our crap-tastic sick week lifted I realized we didn't die; it was an odd feeling of accomplishment. We were battered and bruised but there we were: all limbs attached and vital organs still in their anatomically correct places. I haven't accidentally killed the kids, set fire to the house or damaged myself in the process. The minutes drag some days, but we're already half way through with this separation! I have learned that you might feel like you've been run over by a Mac Truck but tomorrow's a new day and that means one more day was crossed off the calendar.

When you have no family near by, no support within your immdediate reach and great friends you just can't bring yourself to burden you find yourself standing, stripped. Stripped of the fluff you thought you needed, stripped of help, stripped of emotional support or anyone to just chat with at night. It's just you, standing there with the littlest people that love and need you and nothing else.

I don't know a lot, but I do know this: You deal with situations as they come, love so unconditionally you sometimes wonder why discipline exists in the first place, try harder when you've got nothing left and do absolutely anything you feel is necessary to survive.


Mike and Cicely said...

Oh, Nellie, I LOVE this post and I agree with you wholeheartedly! You are one amazing woman!

This has been such an incredibly challenging time for me and it helps my perspective to know I'm not the only one.

Lots of love from the Augustine girls!

Katie said...

Beautifully said! Burden this friend anytime! :-)

Teresa Eliason said...

I love your point about simplifying. I always have the same ideas about all the things I'm going to accomplish while Pat's gone. Sometimes I get a lot done because I have a plan, but other times I realize that no one cares if I don't make muffins or do crafty things. As long as we get to the end of the day.

And I know exactly what you mean about the single line email in response to your novella! So frustrating!

Teresa Eliason said...

And as soon as I wrote my first comment I went to another blog and found this quote -

"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home do more for the soul than their simplicity might suggest." - Thomas Moore

Nellie said...

Thanks guys! And thanks, Teresa for that quote. I love it!