Wednesday, December 14, 2011

So, How'd I Do?

Somehow a week has flown by since Johnny returned from deployment.  I have spent a lot of time walking around on cloud nine; I cannot tell you how amazing it is to have someone to take a baby out of your hands and replace it with a cup of coffee after a deployment.  John has had to stop me a few times and just say "I'll handle it" because I have become a scurrier these past seven months.  There were days where I honestly didn't stop moving (fluid motion between diaper changing, feeding, playing, laundry, more diapers, more feeding, trying to keep the kids from killing each other, cleaning the kitchen, going out on errands, more diapers, etc, ad nauseum) between 7AM and 7PM.  And then after bedtime I would walk downstairs and want to cry because of the mess in front of me.  My mom will attest that there were days when she was here that at about noon she would ask me if I had eaten anything and I would look at her and say "uuuh, no actually".  Forgetting to eat was the norm for awhile.  I wasn't the priority - the kids were.  Showering, eating, exercising...  they were all second to making sure the kids were fed, clean, safe, and happy.

Parenting, especially parenting a 2 and 1 year old, is a two person endeavour.  Probably a 5 or 6 person endeavour but let's be realistic.  But there were many times during the deployment where I would feel that what I was trying to do (be a good mom to two small kids) was nearly impossible with my setup (a deployed husband and no family nearby).  One of the 2432423 reasons I'm happy Johnny is home is that I think I will be a better mom - less stressed, more rested, and a lot more excited to go do fun things.

I've been thinking a lot about how I handled myself the past seven months.  If you have been reading, I started this blog as a way to remember the ups and downs of this deployment.  In my very first post I wrestled with the idea of time and how our life doesn't pause when things we don't like happen.  How, no matter what my attitude was toward deployment, nothing can change that I had seven months on my own.  So I better make the most of those seven months. 

On a very basic level we did great. The kids are happy and healthy, the house is still standing, both pets (and even koi fish!) survived.  Bills were paid, cars are in good shape, our rental properties are doing well.  Nothing fell apart.  Yay me. 

But as I strip the layers down, I know that there were many times where I wish I could have just relaxed and let things happen more gracefully.  Because of my anxiety, I often pick things down to the most minute detail and perseverate on them.  This isn't healthy.  I probably drove my mother halfway insane by my inability to let go and let others help me without worrying constantly about everything.  I worried about putting people out, about asking for help, about a babysitter coming over and seeing a messy kitchen, about not sending Johnny enough packages, about my neighbors thinking the grass was too long, etc.  I think that I would have done myself a huge favor by just letting some things go (and really letting go) over the past months.  Appearances aren't everything, and honestly, having a glass of wine instead of scrubbing your kitchen floor is sometimes the best choice.

I have a few friends who have recently said farewell to their husbands.  I really hope that they are good to themselves and worry less than I did.  I hope they find the joy in the everyday.  I hope that they pour themselves a glass of wine and just put their feet up a few times a week.  Put your coffee maker on a timer and pour yourself a cup BEFORE you pour that sippy cup.  Make sure you hire a babysitter and get out of the house at least once per week on your own.  And don't don't feel guilty about it.  Don't be afraid to ask for help because so many people are really genuine in their offers. 

I am going to compile a deployment survival guide in the next few days.  Mostly so that next time I can remember what really helped me.  But hopefully it will help a few others too.


Karen said...

In my opinion, you did fabulous!

Elizabeth said...

Can't wait for that survival guide because I'll be going through it next year. It's been nice to read your blog during your 7 month journey because it gives me an idea of what I'll be dealing with and I know my anxiety level will skyrocket.

I say you did amazingly! Seriously, I hope to keep it together half as well as you did and I only have 1 child!

Stephanie Doyle said...

I can relate to this so much. During deployments, I try to be super mom. Working, play dates, blogging, seeing family, remembering birthdays, etc. But I often fail to take care of myself during deployments. Thanks for this post, it was a great reminder to let things go. :)

Melissa said...

I'm so happy to read that you understand I don't mind sitting in 5 hours of traffic coming to see you and the munchkins if it makes it easier for you for a day or two. Jeff and I love you, Johnny and the kids. We can't wait to see you guys over the holidays!

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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