Wednesday, November 30, 2011

World Travel and Alone Time

One of the big upsides of Navy life is the opportunity it presents to travel around the world and the United States. I know, without doubt, that if I wasn't in the Navy, I never would have visited some of the places that I have.

Over Thanksgiving, I had one such opportunity. J's ship was pulling into Marseilles, France and it happened to align with a 4 day break I had for school. So, we discussed our options and we went for it. I flew to France (sans kids) and enjoyed 2 days alone with the husband. AND IT WAS WONDERFUL. I know there are many parents who couldn't imagine leaving their children and going to another country, even for such a short time, but I am so unbelievably happy I did. Not only did I get to spend some much needed one on one time with a husband I hardly even get to see (9 days until he is home for deployment!), but I also got to spend some much needed time by myself while I was on the 15+ hours of flights.

I think it is sooooo easy for military parents (or really any parent) to give up time for themselves to spend it with the kids. There's always a million reasons not to step away, money, guilt, babysitters, etc. But, I really believe this time away is critical. I knew one mom who hadn't been away from her baby for more than 2 hours its whole first year of life. 2 hours!

I'm not saying that I want to spend all my time away from my kids, I actually love spending time with them (despite what gets said on this blog on occasion), but at the same time, I think is crucial that we as parents maintain our adulthoods and our sense of self. I know that I will look back at this time when my kids are young and wonder where the time went, I don't want to look back and wonder where I went.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moms and the Military

I just read an article on CNN about a family that lost a mother at war. Against my better judgement, I scrolled down to the comments section and read and read and read. And while there was the normal claptrap about the war and such (I won't get into my opinion here either way), I was shocked at the significant number of comments by women and mothers that stated that this woman was a bad parent for being in the military with small children. A significant number of these women seemed to suggest that this woman was actually a bad mother for continuing to serve after she had children. As if to say she didn't love her children as much as her military career. That somehow the decision to stay in the military was merely a selfish one and actually at the expense of her child's happiness.

I will be honest, since I have had children, I have greatly struggled with my military service. I work long hours, I am away from my children much, much more than I would like to be. But at the same time, I enjoy my job. There is an inherent difference in being a Naval Officer that I know I will never find in another career. I know that no other job will provide me with the mental challenge and satisfaction that this one has. Also, no other job will provide me with the opportunities that I have received. I have a college and master's degree with no incurred debt, I have seen the world twice over, I have grown as a person and as a leader. And, not for nothing, I met my husband through my service. So, I have to say that I am torn. I am thrilled with my career in some regards and others are keeping me from the things that I care about most.

But, no matter what my feelings are, I will never believe that I am damaging my sons in anyway. They are loved. They know they are loved. Sure, they would like mommy to be there every night, but they understand she can't be. I am providing them not only with the things that they need (food, medical care, shelter), but I also present to them an example of what a woman can do. And, I know that if I wasn't challenged in the way that I am at work, I wouldn't be the same mother that I am. You see all that growing that I have done as a naval officer also shaped me into the parent that I am. My confidence, patience, level headness and countless other qualities that I gained from military service will be passed onto my boys through my example.

So, for all the people that believe it to be irresponsible for a mother to go to war, I disagree. We all have our challenges in life. Mine take a different spin. Whether I continue my military service or not after this obligation, I know that staying in after their birth was absolutely the right decision. And I know without a doubt that my sons will be better men because their mommy was a sailor.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Bad Mammajammas (or however that's spelled)

Well folks, we are officially 5 weeks into our 10 week stay in hotel hell and we are surviving, not thriving. Honestly, it hasn't been THAT bad, just bad. We have had our runs of colds, coughs, snots and eye gunk that has me on the edge about whether or not the kids should go to daycare and I have to say that I feel sorry for the poor souls that are in the rooms next to us. Yes, I am that lady who has the kids who wake up crying at 0445 (but hey it's a military town, everyone is up anyway right?).

So my biggest challenge so far has been how to enforce good parenting practices in a completely impossible setting. For example, the rule is you sit at the table until everyone is done no matter how much or how little you choose to eat for dinner. No table here, so trying to get the 2 year to stay in one place is just not happening. Also, generally when a fit occurs, I ignore it until the kids realize that it isn't working and then we talk about it. Well, I don't think allowing screeching for 15 minutes at 0530 is particularly neighborly, so I have been giving in a lot more easily than I normally would.

So what's a mom to do? Throw out the rules, survive the next 5 weeks and hope for the best when Dad takes over (mwhahaha!) or try and maintain some semblence of order and discipline in a wackadoo setting? I think ultimately survival will dictate a mixture of both, but this is truly a tough nut to crack. I fear that we will walk back into our house with two horribly behaved children that will take weeks of re-programming just in time for Christmas visiting so everyone will see what monsters we have raised. The pressure!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tales of the AEGIS School Nothing

Well, here we are 3 weeks into living in a hotel, kids in full time daycare and Mom trying her best to keep up in school. I can honestly say I have never been more challenged, stressed or exhausted in my whole life.

First off, living in a hotel room with a mini fridge and a microwave is a special hell all to itself. I believe interrogation tactics might be easier to endure at this point. Everyone is on top of each other, sharing a bed with a 2 year old is the least restful sleep anyone could ever get, and I live in constant fear of the kids being too loud (which they often are). Poor B has no where to stretch his legs and my crawling/cruising 7 month old (who does that this early, geez!) is doing his darndest to find every child safety hazard in the room.

Daycare, oh daycare. I don't think I ever truly realized how lucky we were to have a nanny (who won't be coming back, we are devastated and in a major scramble). Seeing the very sad little faces plastered in the door when I leave and come back every day has been beyond heartbreaking. B has especially struggled. And I now live in constant fear of someone being sick and what I am going to do (if you miss too many days - ie 2 - you get dropped from the course). I am so paranoid, that I have two daycares and a babysitter set up as back ups.

And least of all, this school is really hard! I have been trying to shift myself back into study/learning mode and maybe I am just too old, but it ain't working. I'm doing all right, but a lot of times it's by a wing and a prayer. I wish I had more time after class to study, but I have to get the kids by a certain time and I really hate leaving them at the day care longer than I have to.

So, needless to say, the times are pretty exciting right now. I told hubs yesterday, I feel like a dog in the corner trying to fight my way out. I am constantly on the look out for another glitch in the plan and constantly running scenarios for how I am going to deal with them, which makes for one frazzled mommy. Thank goodness it's only 7 more weeks. :/

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kid Count

So, I have always been confident that I wanted 4 kids. I’m the oldest of four children and I absolutely loved growing up with siblings. When I held T in my arms for the first time, I knew that he wasn’t my last baby. Even in the most challenging of times, I have never wavered in my desire.

Until yesterday. Let me set the stage…B is a poop smearer. When left to his own devices, he will, on occasion (I think this was the 4th time) go into his diaper and “paint.” It is truly one of the most disgusting things in the whole world. It smells, it makes me gag, it’s the worst. This was on top of a challenging morning that included at 5 hour round trip to our next duty station to complete some daycare paperwork where both children screamed the whole way. On top of not sleeping the night before because I am just super wound up due to all the upcoming changes and missing my husband.

So, when I woke from my 15 minute (15 minutes!) nap to find the damage that had occurred in that short time. I lost my sh!t. Completely and totally, I cried, I yelled, I broke down. And I thought to myself, I don’t want anymore children. I don’t even want the ones I have.

Now, I, of course, gathered myself, gave B a shower (a cold one is what the ped has recommended to break this behavior), and cleaned up the bedroom. But, I still didn’t even want to look at B, let alone creating another one to make things worse. After I got everyone to bed, I sat and thought and while I still want 4 kids, I don’t want to have anymore until I can count on J being home more, which is a while off. But more than that, I need to cut myself a break. I push and push and push and don’t rest because pushing makes the time go by faster, but I’m just asking myself for too much.

In the end, I just have to remind myself that it’s 80 days and that I just sometimes have to say no and take a break (but duct tapping B into his clothes first  ).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Long Overdue Post

What an absence!

Well, we have had an interesting month. We have once again said good bye to Dad and I am kickin’ it single mom style. As is our way, I have done my best to keep us super busy so it doesn’t feel so empty around the house. We have visited my parents and grandparents, been to the zoo, pool and everywhere else I can think of to keep us from moping around the house.

B is adjusting as well as he can to Daddy being gone. Fielding all the questions about where Daddy is, can we talk to Daddy, when is Daddy coming back has been really tough. I just want to burst into tears every time I hear them, but I know that I can’t. Between potty training and nap reductions, B is having a tough time. I can say with confidence, the boy is pee trained. He goes to the potty when he needs to and won’t mess in his pants. Poop is a whole different bag. We are still working on that one. He’s working out some issues that are affecting his normal sunny disposition. But, he still is a great little boy and wows me every day with how smart he is.

T is hands down the happiest baby I have ever met. Almost never cries, always greets you with a smile and just LOOOOOVES laughing and playing with his older brother. He really is a joy. Hearing him laugh at B acting a fool just warms my heart. He’s a solid food man now and I am already noticing a decrease in his nursing which makes me a little sad.

Needless to say, we have been moving and shaking. AND we have a huge adventure coming up in a month. I’ll be starting a school in Dahlgren for 10 weeks, so B, T and me will all be living in a hotel and the boys will be in daycare for that period of time. So, things will be interesting! And I am happy to report that it is only 93 more days until J returns!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Runnin' on Empty

I can’t believe there is already only a week left before J flies out to deployment again. We have filled the past two months with so much family time, vacations, appointments, and other junk that I am just plain pooped. Add in a baby would refuses to sleep and you’ve got one run down mom-mom (B’s name for me).

So, as a look at the next week’s schedule, I’m torn. Do I continue to run myself down cramming in as many family memories as I can to steel myself for the next 4 months or do I take a really good break and get myself as rested as I can for the next 4 months? In my head, I know that I need the break, the kids are going to eat me alive, but in my heart, I so love the wonderful moments we had these past two months and I can’t stand to not make just a couple more.

We really have had an amazing couple of months. We have reached so many milestones and the boys are starting to seem so grown up. B is potty-trained, sleeping in a big boy bed and speaking in whole sentences. T is rolling over, eating solids and sitting up on his own. What happened to my two little babies? We have seen B’s intelligence (and thereby naughtiness) blossom. Who would have guessed the child could correctly identify a tapir? And the most wonderful part has been seeing my two sons become ever so attached to their daddy. There isn’t a day that goes by where B and Dad don’t do something that just makes my heart melt. Last night, it was playing Rock Band guitars together and having a dance party. There is no where T likes to sleep better than snuggled up against Dad.

So, while it may cost me my sanity, I think that I’ll suck it up and keep running on empty to fill my heart and head with great moments that will push us through until December.

PS – Although it should seem way longer, 4 months seems like a drop in the bucket and I know it will be over in no time.