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because life is full of twists and turns

Month: January 2015 (page 1 of 2)

embarrassingly overwhelmed.

embarrassingly overwhelmed

 

Last night I wrote a long overdue message to someone saying “no” to a great opportunity that I really wanted to take advantage of.  The exact words I wrote were that I was “embarrassingly overwhelmed.”

And I am.

I am embarrassed about it because I see people doing so much more than me and still managing to keep going.

There are people who have faced longer deployments.

There are people who have more children.

There are people who do more freelance writing.

There are people who hold down full time jobs.

There are people who drive their children to more activities.  And people who do far more volunteer work.

So I keep wondering: If they can keep it together, why can’t I?  What am I doing wrong?

It’s been a tough couple of weeks around here.  We were terribly sick for over three weeks.  In the midst of the illness my husband deployed for the first time.  And we’ve had a host of other stressors that I’m not yet free to share publicly.

It is embarrassing for me to tell people “no”.  I want to handle it all.  I definitely don’t want to say “no” to anyone who has more children or more work than I do.  I feel guilty taking any down time to watch a TV show or read a book because that time could have been more productive.

These thoughts had been simmering in my subconscious for awhile, but last night as I typed that message, I finally let them all rise to the surface.

When I faced them plainly, those thoughts seemed silly.  I don’t need to be embarrassed about how much or how little I can handle.  The end goal of my life is not productivity.

Admitting that I was “embarrassingly overwhelmed” was freeing in a way.  I was admitting what I’ve long known – I’m no superwoman!

So for the next few weeks (maybe more!), self-care is taking priority.  I’m going to spend more time listening to my body and less time worrying about all the things I can’t do.  I am going to bed early.  I’m going to say “no” to extra activities and opportunities (and “no” to the guilt I feel about saying “no”). It won’t always be possible to simply slow my life down when I’m overwhelmed, but right now it is.  So I’m doing it.

In short, I’m taking a break from embarrassment and guilt to be honest with myself about what I need.  And it feels right.

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Deployment Day One

Recently my husband deployed for the first time.  We have been preparing for this deployment for months, but I was still nervous about how the first day would go down.  Would I be a mess of tears?  Or would I be completely stoic?  Would our two-year-old understand what was happening?  Had we prepared him to the best of our abilities?  Here is what Day One of deployment looked like for our family.

 

Deployment Day  One (How It Actually Went Down}

 

The night before he left, we gave Hadden his “Daddy Doll” and to explain again what would be happening the next day.  I’ll write more about the Daddy Doll another time and about the other ways we prepared Hadden.  For now I’ll just say that the moment he saw the doll he said,  “Dada!!” and reached out for it.  He was thrilled.  For our son, who is speech delayed, is was clear that he loved the doll.

IMG_3932       IMG_3934

I didn’t sleep well that night as we’d been sick for weeks and I was restless knowing what the next morning would bring.  At 4:15am I decided to stop trying to fight sleep and started getting ready for the day.  I had a quiet few moments downstairs while my husband was getting ready.

While aloneIMG_3940 in the kitchen I started pulling down the pieces of our gratitude wall.  I plan to redo it with Hadden while Caleb is away (I’ll write more on that another time) and I wanted a fresh start.  The bare wall was a stark reminder of the change that was about to happen in our family.

Since Caleb was leaving from the airport, instead of from our base, we had to be out the door early.  We ended up having to wake Hadden up in order to leave on time.  We had spent a lot of time discussing whether or not Hadden and I should go to the airport with Caleb.  There were so many reasons why it made sense for us to stay home, but in the end I thought that Hadden needed to be there to say goodbye and to see what happened.  I wanted to make it clear to him that this day was different than normal days when Caleb leaves to go to work.  I’m SO glad we made the decision to go.

When we got to the airport, we parked the car so Hadden and I could help Caleb carry his bags.  Once inside, Caleb took Hadden on a ride up and down the escalator.  He adores the escalator so it was made me happy to see them making one last happy memory before Caleb left.  When they were finished we quickly hugged and kissed goodbye and I turned to walk out.  That’s when I cried for the first time that day.  Hadden turned around and waved goodbye, but I kept walking.  Both Caleb and I knew that we’d rather not prolong the goodbye and that other people from his squadron would be showing up soon.  We’d rather do it quickly and privately than drag out the inevitable.  Plus I wanted Caleb to get mentally prepared to leave and not have to worry about us.  We’d already talked everything over so much in the past few weeks.  I’d slipped a letter into his carry-on and he’d left notes for Hadden and me in our kitchen.  There wasn’t much left to be said.

From the airport Hadden and I went to Chick-Fil-A (his favorite!).  I planned this so that we would have somewhere to go and he would have something to look forward to as we left Caleb.  On the ride home Hadden started asking “Dada?  Dada?”.  Each time I would remind him that Daddy was deploying and that he was getting on a plane.

We ran some errands before we headed to Hadden’s speech therapy.  On the way home from speech, Hadden fell asleep in the car.  I think waking him up that morning had something to do with that!  I let him sleep in the car while I unloaded some things.  But when I walked inside, the first thing I saw were the letters that Caleb left for us.  I couldn’t make it through them without crying again.

Hadden and I spent the rest of the day cleaning and organizing.  I just wanted to stay busy, so we steam cleaned the carpets, did the laundry and cleaned out the fridge.  It was cleansing to begin this new stage in our lives with a clean house.

In a big way, the first day of deployment was a relief.  We had known about this day and been dreading it for so long.  And that was miserable.  At least now we can countdown until we will be reunited.

All day long it was the little things that made me tear up.  His coats, missing from our coat rack.  The way he (as always) including the numbers of days we’ve been married in my note.  Picking up the phone to ask him about dinner only to remember he wasn’t going to be there.  Answering the questions of where “Dada” was for the fifteenth time.

But mingled throughout this hard day was the encouragement that comes from friends.  I have a great support system in friends and family and that day they let me know it.  So many people texted or called to see how we were doing.  Everyone reminded me that if I needed anything, I just needed to ask.  My sister and her family had sent a box a couple days earlier for Hadden and I to open that day, just so we’d have something to look forward to.

When evening finally came and Hadden was in bed, I crawled into my own bed, exhausted from our weeks of sickness and from a long day.  My room felt empty and quiet.  I missed my husband being there with me.  Still, I knew that it was my new normal.  My bed wasn’t empty for long though.  A few hours after I fell asleep, my son woke up crying.  I brought him into my bed and he quickly fell back asleep.  He didn’t come alone either – my bed had a two year old, a Daddy Doll and a stuffed doggy, not to mention a plethora of pillows.

This is our new normal.  It’s taking a bit of getting used to.  We’re still trying to find the best ways (and times) to talk online.  I’m getting the hang of extra duties around the house, like putting the garbage out of the right day.

It is not what I would have chosen.  But I think we can make this new normal work and I think we will learn and grow as a result.

 

  • What did your first day of deployment look like?
  • Do you have any tips for us?

 

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The Ten Year Old Dinner

Earlier this week my husband and I dressed up, dropped our toddler off with friends, and headed downtown for a  nice dinner.

The evening was dreamy.  We started with cocktails and amuse-bouche.  Then we launched into appetizers, wine and main courses, and ended with desserts.  It was a big splurge, but we were celebrating his birthday and having our last date night before he deployed.

This dinner reminded us of one of our plans for the future.

The 10 Year Old Dinner.

The Ten Year Old DInner

Caleb and I want to have fun family traditions so earlier in the year we came up with this one.  When each child reaches their tenth birthday, we’ll celebrate by taking them (just the birthday child! no siblings!) out to a special, expensive restaurant.

Most days our family will probably have to make frugal choices at restaurants.  Water instead of soda.  No appetizers or desserts.  Those are good lessons for children to learn.  But there’s also a lesson to learn from eating somewhere nice.

So on their tenth birthday we want to splurge!  When Caleb and I get cocktails, we’ll ask for a non-alcoholic version for the birthday child.  When it is time to order, they’ll get an appetizer before their meal.  And when the dessert menu comes, we’ll each pick one.

Ten seems like a good age for this event.  They’re old enough to learn proper etiquette and (hopefully) have a bit more sophisticated palate than, say, a five year old.  But they are young enough to delight in the magic of dressing up for a special dinner (and young enough to still want to have dinner with their parents!).  I want to create a special memory with them, but I also want them to get them familiar with ordering, asking questions about the menu, and navigating the silverware.

We’re years away from having our first 10 year old.  Seven and a half years, to be precise.  But I’m already excited about having this special meal with our son.

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