The boys are killing me. Not like "chasing me with a knife killing me," but more like, "Mom, we're going to make you want to drink" killing me. So in the spirit of humor, and because I love my awful, boorish little boys, we'll be rocking this out in the style of:
Why? Because I was raised on Star Wars, my deployed brother loves Star Wars, my kids are addicted to Star Wars, and this is my blog, so if I want to get a dorky laugh from the atrocious acts in this house... well, I will.
So. It takes the kids about six weeks to adjust to Jason being gone. Six weeks for them to get in the groove and remember that I run this house, no matter how much testing of the rules they do. The first week of deployment is all honeymoon-like. The boys are such little helpers, and I get this whole glowy feeling, like I can grab a hold of this deployment and tell it to kiss my petunia because:
Yup, that's right. I'm on top of stuff, we're cruising along, and by the end of the first week, I've launched into this deployment like:
And I'm happy, getting out of the house with the boys, feeling like we're going to ROCK this freaking deployment instead of staying all sad-sally like I was the entire last deployment.
But then... we hit the 2nd week. And the 3rd week. And the 4th week. And my awesome, I've-got-it-all-handled started well, failing, and I started losing a wee bit of control.
And as the kids started testing me, and their rules, and my general sanity, it was like the deployment started laughing, saying:
And suddenly, my everything-in-order, smooth sailing turned into dodging disasters, and basically getting blasted.
Our gorgeous little five-year-old has basically sprouted horns and started carrying a pitch fork. Notes sent home from school for the first time, hurtful, mean, spiteful and downright ornery. So after a particularly hurtful comment to his brother, I tell him he needs to go make Aidans bed for him. (We do acts of service to make up for hurtful things to show the boys that sorry isn't enough sometimes). He then stomps up the stairs and screams "I'm NOT going to do it!" At this point, cool-mom facade slips away because it's been a heck of a four weeks and maybe, I turn more like:
So I tell him he WILL make the bed, and he screams out a refusal again, and now I'm all:
And be basically shrugs at me like:
So fine, time out for you. Now I'm all:
That's right, you little punk. (Oh, yee five year-old who is giving me a run for my money)...
Well, I mean, come on. Not really. It's a .gif people, I don't drop the F-bomb at the kid, but you get the point. Now Chase is in time-out, and I'm feeling pretty "meh" about the situation. Chase has always been a handful, but instead of letting it go and sitting quietly (which is normal), Deployment-Crazed-Chase starts slamming his head into the wall next to him because he knows this drives me crazy, and he's basically all:
So after the mandatory five minutes in time-out (we're a minute-per-age family), he stands up, and begrudgingly heads up the stairs to perform his act of service. But he can't go peacefully, NO. He has to start stomping and kicking the wall. I have to admit, at this point I'm wondering who the heck this kid is, and realize, I have met a very worthy opponent.
So I lay the mommy smack down
and inform him that this is ANYTHING but acceptable. To which he immediately screams out, "GET OUT OF MY LIFE!!!"
Now all my bad-assery is reduced to:
And basically, I'm all
Oh yes, a 5 year-old can bring you to your knees, have no doubt. But it's the 8 year-old who's egging him on. Right now, whatever Aidan can do to get Chase in trouble he does. Seriously, I'll walk into the toy room, and Aidan is goading Chase into whatever meltdown he can, and suddenly it goes from peaceful play to all out freaking war between the middle two in there like:
And I'm stuck surveying the utter insanity just like:
And my first reaction, is really to look at this deployment, and what the first few weeks are turning my kids into and just say:
But yeah, that's not an option, because it's not like you can wave the white flag and tell the army you've had enough of this, and would they mind ending the deployment already? Yeah, the army doesn't exactly work like that. ;)
So, we carry on with this craptastic time known as adjustment. Now, despite the fact that Chase is trying to figure out how to break me, I'm actually humming along. I've been so angry and depressed about this darn deployment, that entering it has actually been sort of a relief. Now we're getting through and embracing the suckage instead of anticipating it, and while yes, it sucks, at least the time is passing now. Right. So anyway, I'm actually leaving my house and doing all sorts of unhermitish things! I'm going to events, and making plans, and when I'm on my game, it kind of leaves me feeling like:
That's right. And you know what? It's okay to feel those moments of happiness, and bad-assery during a deployment. Because if it's taught me one thing, it's that being on top of my game, running this house, getting my work done and not losing my shit is worth a momentary happy dance!!!
But then, I tackle the laundry. Normal Monday, I grab the littles' hamper, and toss in all the clothes without sorting, because let's face it, I'm feeling lazy and I just don't care if their freaking socks are the whitest white. They're socks. No one sees them. Back to the point, 54 minutes of the "casual" cycle later, I open the door, and smell.... smell....
No really. Like WHAT IS THAT???? I pull the clothes out into an empty basket, and look through the drum, and it's .... it's....
Oh yes, seriously. IT IS. It's poop. And just like that, my happy mood evaporates and I'm crashing down like:
And I am Screaming out Chase's name. I pull the Mom question of "Chase... did you have an accident and then just toss your poopy pants in the hamper?" Sorry if this grosses you out folks, but it's motherhood. We deal with poop daily, cleaning it, asking about it, concerned about who's not having it enough... it's just mommyhood. So, ahem, Chase... then seriously goes:
This leaves me feeling ready to:
And when forced with the mommy-stare down, oh you know it, finally admits to it with something akin to:
He finds this perfectly acceptable, and I'm just thinking....
And now I've had it. By 8:20 on a Monday, I've got Chase screaming that he didn't get the right sized spoon (so he THREW it at Aaron), Chase shrieking that Aidan's toe has crossed over onto his couch cushion, and now I have poop in my washer. Remembering that out of our 4 boys, Chase was our only planned pregnancy, I'm basically all:
And yet he's driving me to the point of insanity. He's like this giant ball of anger and angst and uncharacteristic meanness right now. I mean, he's always ornery, but now he's like... MEAN, and has me thinking of putting him in a box with nice holes, and snacks, water, diapers, and sending him to his father...
Totally kidding people. I'm not shipping Chase anywhere. Just daydreaming of it as he screams at me for handing him the wrong yogurt, or telling him it's not yet his turn for the piano.
But I get it. Truth is, he's Jason's boy. If a choice has to be made between the two of us, he always chooses Jason. This is probably due to Brody being 17 months younger than he is, but with Jason gone, Chase feels a little lost. I get it, but sometimes when I'm mad, and I'm tying to say, look, little dude, I know you miss him, but I'm here for you, I've got this, it ends up coming out more like:
And Chase knows that I'm his mama, and I give good hugs and apply great bandaids and make a mean dinner, but am I a substitute for his dad? He'll tell you:
So yeah. Chase is alive. Barely.
But what about the other two you say? At any given moment, I'm usually yelling something random in Brody's direction like "NO, YOU MAY NOT LICK YOUR BROTHER!" Really, this actually came out of my mouth this evening. Mostly though, Brody feels like it's WWE all the time with his brothers, and every time I turn around he's basically all:
on his brothers for no apparent reason, and they don't do anything about it, because, well, he's the baby, and when you yell at him, he just kind of looks all cute like:
But then when you REALLY yell at him, he giggles, and because I remember that he's four years-old, well, basically all I can say is:
And then there's Aaron. Aaron, our brilliant clueless little boy. While all this madness is spinning around me, Chase screaming, Aidan stirring the pot, Brody acting like he was raised by monkeys, I'll turn the corner and find Aaron just lost in a little Gangman style.
Seriously. I can't even make this stuff up.
So when Jason calls, I selfishly sneak away with the phone so I can pretend I'm anywhere else. Especially since this weekend was our 11 year anniversary, I'd really like:
But yeah, that's not going to happen, because he's 6670 miles away. Not to mention, our internet connection this deployment has me basically all:
I mean, the internet cuts out and skype cuts off so often, that I look at the technology, and all I'm thinking is:
Oh internet from our last deployment:
But hey, it's better than nothing, which is pretty much what we rocked through the first two deployments with. Perspective, people, it's all about perspective. So as Jason's asking me about the kids, I'm caught somewhere between letting him know that all hell is breaking loose, and having this kind of conversation:
Because let's face it. Yes, he's my husband, my best friend, my partner, but while I generally tell him what's going on, I still don't want him to feel like I'm losing my shit. After all, I know if he so much as hints that I can't handle it, I'll snap like:
But he's smart enough to know I've got this, so the best advice he can give is:
But for those moments that I get to talk to Jason, everything is just perfect and I can forget for just a few minutes that he's 6670 miles away, fighting in a war. Yup, for those minutes, I'm all:
Oh yeah. So I'm back in my groove, handling the kids (and this enormously long blog post), and then once the kids are in school, I get smacked down. I mean royally smacked down. Like destroyed from an area I never saw coming, and while I really wanted to let it roll off my back like:
Instead it was more like:
Oh yeah, did I mention I gave up all processed foods and started "clean eating" about three weeks ago? This whole moment has me about ready to suck down a plate of brownies and just:
But I didn't. Instead, I laced up, got on the treadmill during nap time and ran out my frustrations until I felt like I could behave like a normal person and not a crazed, insecure nightmare. This choice left me feeling a little empowered, because I didn't let the deployment win, and I'm all:
But alas, the real world calls.
Without going into much detail, I'm just going to say:
Ladies, if you're going through a deployment, and you're happy, you're pushing though, you're making the best of it and not laying in bed crying day after day, then it's OKAY. And if you're not, that's OKAY too! Everyone handles deployment differently. EVERYONE. Some people are happy and productive, some people put on a brave face. Some people cry at every moment, some people can't sleep at night. Some people lash out at others, and some people experience all of these emotions during the same day. Point is, we're all going through it, so cut everyone a huge break. It's about understanding and compassion, and what you think you might be saying to clear your mind really might be the nail in someone's already sinking coffin. KINDNESS, please, every day, but especially during a deployment. No one ever regrets being kind. And yes, I'm working on this too. No one is infallible.
After I'm wrecked, and pretty much a puddle on the floor, I feel like I'm yelling back at this deployment that it's not going to break me, like:
That's right. I'm not going to let some cocky deployment beat me down, until it fires back:
What, Etu Brute? You know one thing about army wives? We tend to rip the band-aid off, address the crap and move on. Besides, apparently the emperor "deployment" hasn't seen how this ends. Friends win. He goes down. End. Of. Story.
Kindness moves mountains people, same thing I say to my boys every single day: no matter how awful you think you feel, be kind.
So, ahem, moral of the story, when you're feeling all:
And you want to drag someone else down, remember:
Yup. Amen to Yoda. So even when you're feeling like kindness isn't possible, all:
So I choose to put my big girl panties on, find the smidgen of grace that hasn't been crushed, pick up and move on. And when that grace can't be found, you pick up your big girl panties, slip them on and do your best to say until you believe:
That's right. Pick up and move on. Look deployment straight in the eye and say:
Okay, well maybe not, but I loved that .gif and had to use it. Totally.
So I woke up this morning and faked a smile until it was real. Then I dropped off Brody to a friend and went and enjoyed my anniversary present Jason set up for me of getting my hair done:
By the time this evening has rolled around, Chase has been in time out again about half a dozen times and I'm ready to pack up for the deployment and move home. Well, not really, but it's like a seven year-old threat to run away, lovely in thought but foolish to leave behind the ones that love you.
I open up my email and see a message from my fantastic agent, Jamie Bodnar Drowley, titled Aeolian, and all I'm thinking is I can't withstand a rejection today. I just don't have it in me. So I cringe, open it up and not one, but two more publishers have requested to read Aeolian!!! Yes!!! So now I'm overcome with:
Oh yes, JOY!!!!! That's right, I'm joyful! Yes, it sucks that Jason isn't here to squee with me, but you know what, I'm not diminishing my squee! This is a moment that doesn't happen very often to an author, so you know what? SQUEEEEEE!!!!
So fine, we're adjusting. It sucks. Everyone is adjusting to this. But I know that in a couple weeks we'll settle in and it will calm down. And as for me and my kiddos? We're going to fill this summer up to the fullest, attend every event we can, laugh, and love, and tell daddy all about it. That's right. We carry green lightsabers in this house and we won't give in to the Dark Side of the Force.
Dance on, my fellow deployment survivors. We've got this.
Oh, and Chase? Mommy loves you, no matter what. Now go scrub the crayon off the dang window.