Life as Lou

An Unexpected Luxury

  • August 9, 2011 7:30 pm

us

Normalcy. That is the common goal of every military family I know, probably because it is one of the hardest things to achieve when you are tied to a person who is essentially owned by the government.

We shoot for normal bedtimes and ordinary anniversary celebrations. We crave the boring routine of waking up next to the same person in our bed day in and day out, snuggling on the same old couch, watching the same corny television show together in the evening, fighting over the same old nit-picky topics. So many couples blame complete monotony for the demise of their marriage; military couples pray they get enough humdrum days to save their marriage.

We hope our children have the typical growing pains and stages, hoping to smooth over the anger about losing friends, insecurity from moving yet again and downright confusion when mom or dad disappears for months on end. When our kids get in fights or bring home a low grade, we want it to be because they’re learning self control or they just haven’t grasped a concept yet, but ask any school counselor and he’ll blame it on bruised psyches caused by the constant adjustments and paradigm shifts we force on them.

We hope that when they do have a normal growing pain, they will be allowed to do so as an average kid, and not be so psycho-analyzed by their teachers and other leaders that every single quirk gets blamed on their association with the military, thereby robbing them of the normalcy of just being allowed to be a screwy kid from time to time.

With schedules in constant flux, and people and places changing frequently, personal routine is about the only coping skill I’ve found that really brings any feeling of normalcy. There is comfort in predictability, and so when we find that, our family latches on tight. I’m not talking about an hourly schedule, or whip-cracking rigidity. It is the little things, the tiny traditions that remind us of who we are. We are people who go to piano lessons every week, and who like to watch movies on Friday nights, eat out at the same restaurants and indulge in lollipops on the ride home from church. We rock out to the same songs, singing along as loudly as we can and cozy up with the same old cup of cocoa year round-simply because it feels good. We are people who kneel to pray together at night and who have the same argument over who gets to sleep in Mommy’s bed tonight. We are, in many ways, predictable.

I get asked often how in the world I cope with the never ending inconsistencies and stresses that are unique to military life. Well, you just do. You cope with what comes with whatever attitude you choose to face life with. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got cancer, a winning lottery ticket or a perpetually absent spouse and three demanding children to raise-you choose how things are going to be. Regardless of where you are and which family members you get to spend time with, you have to live the life in front of you. Most people want to know how I deal with my husband’s deployments and I tell them that we make the best of it when he’s home and we make the best of it when he’s gone. Perhaps that seems overly simplistic, particularly when you add up your current list of challenges, but more often than not, I think we complicate things more than we need to. I choose if it is going to be a bad day or a good day, and I choose that when my husband is home and when he is away. I find the good in either situation (because there is always good to be found).

And yet, I am by no means a cock-eyed optimist. I am decidedly a realist, not down on life, but keenly aware of life’s expectations and curve balls, always trying to keep a pragmatic but positive grip on where I stand in all of that.

At about one thirty this morning, I had some time to think about missing my husband. Gabe has a tummy bug, and so I was up washing sheets, changing pajamas and trying to soothe a very sad baby back to sleep. After that was accomplished, it was just me and the night-time silence, and I lay awake for quite some time, unable to sleep, which has been happening a lot lately. I missed Chris, but not in a boo-hoo, poor me kind of way. I was content to be missing him.

You see, I have never had the luxury of missing my husband before. Oh, he’s been gone plenty, both when deployed and working at home. I’ve been annoyed. I’ve been completely exhausted. I’ve been the martyr. I’ve felt treated unfairly and I’ve definitely been handed the short end of the stick more times than I can remember. But since moving to South Dakota, we have enjoyed a very reasonable schedule. Our lives, although not perfect, are a lot closer to “normal”. We have had a whole year of this, and it feels like a privilege.

Chris works hard, but the hours are more fair. He is gone a lot when he isn’t working because he has time to serve in church, and he is often helping someone out. He is very busy furthering his education as well. But for all that busyness, he’s been present. Before, I didn’t have a husband present enough to go help a neighbor move or to attend church meetings with his family. He certainly wasn’t present enough to work on any of his own goals like education or to have friends over for dinner. When he left on deployments before, it kind of seemed like he had already been gone.

I felt very blessed last night, despite the throw up and the lack of sleep. Chris has only been gone a week, but I get to miss him.

Life is good.]]>

13 Comments

  1. A friend of mine and I were talking about how both our husbands are on an “NCORP” list, which is when they both have the possibility of being yanked out of their career field and forced to retrain into another career field. My friend commented that she “hated waiting” for the news of whether or not the guys were going to be affected by these decisions, which won’t come down the pipeline until probably September or later. I said that being a military wife is all about waiting. Wait to hear if they are getting promoted. Waiting to hear when a deployment will start, where it will be going to, how long it will be, and when they will return (all requiring their own separate waiting periods, of course!). Waiting to hear when the next TDY or exercise will require a nonexistent spouse, horrid hours, or complete exhaustion. Hearing wonderful “rumors” of squadrons moving bases, command changes, position changes, etc etc etc. Even though I may not be the most patient person in my personal life, I certainly have learned how to be a patient military wife. Whatever will be, will be. I have no control over it, so why worry about it? In fact, my husband called me yesterday to tell me he was going tDY at the end of the month, was that okay? I laughed! As if I had any say over it! I’m sure his commander would take it to heart if I said, “No, I really want to take it easy that weekend, you need to be here.” :)

  2. KarenB says:

    I enjoyed reading your post Leah. I have no idea what it is like to be a military wife, and I thank you for sharing a little about what it means for you and your family. Despite the challenges and difficulties you are so positive and so down to earth. I have recently changed my own work role after 10 years of stressful shift work and unpredictable hours in an emergency services job. So many people do not understand what a blessing it is to be “normal” and have a regular routine. I am slowly working my way into ‘normal’ and loving every minute :)

  3. < ![CDATA[This struck a chord with me because yesterday, I felt so blessed to have a four year old to completely mess up his room, fight with his sister and sass his parents.
    Life is good. ]]>

  4. sherri says:

    Nothing like perspective. Sorry for all the nastiness, but so glad you were afforded the realization of how fortunate your circumstances this past year. And btw, I think your hair looks great! Hope you’re happier with it these days :)

  5. Jennifer says:

    Oh how this fellow Air Force wife can relate to this post SO much! Thanks Leah.

  6. The seasons of life – got to enjoy them… they are short and change so quickly! I am glad you have your hubby present now. :) Blessings, Tereza

  7. Cherina says:

    < ![CDATA[I just want to say "Thank You!" I am not from a military family, but I am ever so grateful for those of you who are
    ! We have friends who are waiting so eagerly for their husband/dad to arive home from Iraq on the 19th of August, so I do understand to some degree the sacrifice you make on a regular basis. Thank God for those of you who do without, so we have our freedom! May God bless your family and keep you all safe, and THANK YOU for your sacrifice! Please know it does not go without notice, and you are not taken for granted!! Somehow, during these difficult times for our country, may we go back to our roots and realize what is truly important...and God Bless America!!]]>

  8. You sure are a good writer! I enjoyed reading it! I’m glad you got to miss your hubby! Blessings!

  9. Joe says:

    Your blog is great. Your thoughts are also very good and i am very inspired from your post. That is why I visit this blog again and again and will come back in future too. Thanks.

  10. jersey says:

    < ![CDATA[We shoot for normal bedtimes and ordinary anniversary celebrations. We crave the boring routine of waking up next to the same person in our bed day in and day out, snuggling on the same old couch, watching the same corny television show together in the evening, fighting over the same old nit-picky topics. So many couples blame complete monotony for the demise of their marriage; military couples pray they get enough humdrum days to save their marriage.
    ]]>

  11. CR says:

    Thank you for the reminder of perspective. It’s all about what you’re dealing with now. We each carry our own weights/troubles. It’s all in how you deal with them. Good for you for looking beyond the negative!

  12. John says:

    I just added this site to my bookmarks. I like reading your posts. Thank you!

  13. Apple says:

    Interesting article!

Leave a Reply