I'm just an ordinary girl doing ordinary stuff.

I just happen to be a single mom in the military.

My kids are part of the military too.

When I deploy, their heart breaks too.

They're strong little guys.

Being their mom is the most humbling experience I've ever had.

Follow the adventures

See if you can keep up with me as I serve my country holding my kids in my arms.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Standing Up for Others

"Hey that's mine!"

I watched from a distance as Sean's face filled with dismay.  His little cheeks were red and his lower lip stuck out in an angry pout.  He glared at the 6 year old boy who had run up to him and snatched his beloved Buzz Lightyear right out of his hands, smirking and saying, "Ha! I got your toy!"

We were at the small playground on our apartment grounds.  It was a fair size, never crowded with children, and I usually let Bruce run off leash since it was gated and he was great with kids of all ages.  The location of the playground was chosen wisely as we never once had the sun beat down on us.  Or maybe it was just because I only took them there when the sun was lower in the day.  
Today there were three other children at the playground... and no adult in sight other than myself.  Two of the children, a boy and girl, appeared to be siblings around the ages of 7 or 8.  They looked alike and played with each other.  The third child was 6; I found that out later.  This third child, a boy, was by himself and seemed to cope with his solitude not by playing nicely with the other two kids who were closer to his age but by immediately sailing to mine who were 4 and 2.  

He was a scrawny looking boy with a very unique haircut.  His head was shaved except for the bangs, which were long and dirty blonde.  He wore a pair of faded blue jeans which were ripped at the knee and a black t-shirt.  All that was missing was the earring.  He was a cute looking boy with bright blue eyes and a smile that I'm sure would melt any heart around if it wasn't permanently formed into a smirk.  He was the playground bully.

He tried to bully Caden by grabbing his plastic robot, which Caden named Crisco (please don't ask why, I have no idea).  But his attempt failed when Caden smiled and said, "You can play with it.  He's cool!"  And the bully just left him alone.  I felt a bit proud of Caden then, seeing that instead of fighting with the boy he avoided trouble by being nice to him.  So the bully moved on.  To Sean.

He ran to Sean, who was just coming off the slide happily clutching his Buzz Lightyear toy, and snatched that toy right from his hands.  When Sean announced his dislike for such an act, the boy fed off this and taunted him saying, "Ha!  I took your toy!"

Instead of rushing to my little guy's rescue, I decided to observe.  I wanted to see not just how Sean would react but how Caden would.  And I was especially curious about the other two children who were there with the bully prior to our arrival.

I didn't have to wait long.  Sean chased the bully with tearful cries for his Buzz and the bully continued to run and laugh at him.  Finally, the girl stepped in the bully's way and said, "Hey, give that toy back to him!  Stop being such a bully!"

Immediately the boy tossed the toy aside and said, "Aw I was just playing with him."  He went on to playing by himself while Caden rushed to his toy.

I was amazed at this.  Caden, who is usually first to come to his brother's rescue, was too distracted by his own activities to check out the problem.  The girl and boy seemed to be talking to each other as the bully was attempting to mess with Caden and they continued to chat as he moved on to Sean.  And it was the girl who took the stand.  It was really interesting.

Most of us have experienced someone standing up for us at some point in our lives.  Maybe not a lot and maybe not recently.  But I'd be willing to bet we would all remember every occasion when it happened.  When I was in kindergarten, I always sat in the front row of the school bus on the way home because there weren't a many kids on the bus and my mom, who worked at an elementary school, was friends with the bus driver.  And there was this fifth grader who always picked on me.  She always told the bus driver that I wanted to be the one to open the door - and I never did!  I hated doing it.  I always felt like people were just watching me and if that handle was too hard to pull, they'd all get irritated with me for not letting them get out fast enough.

One day, I told her that I didn't want to do it.  She leaned up real close to my face and said, "If you don't do it, I'm going to stick a needle in your tongue!"  Friggin meanie!  I was so scared, looking at this crazy fifth grade bully who had big hair and pretty eyes.  I bet she became a friggin cheerleader too.

Anyway, Ben the bus driver, heard this and said, "Hey, get your ass to the back of the bus!  I'm not letting you bully other kids here.  I'm telling your parents what you just did."  He was my hero!  I felt like such a baby, hating to be rescued, but I felt as if he saved my life!  I never had any problems from that girl after that.

I watched as Sean sat in the grass playing with Buzz, smiling with his cheeks still tearstreaked.  I thought to myself, the world needs more people like that little girl.  We need more parents teaching their kids to stand up for others.  And we need to stand up for others more ourselves. Can you imagine what kind of world we'd live in if we stood up for people more often?  If we stood up for what was right?  If a little girl can stand up for a toddler, it tells me that we were born to love.  If she could recognize at the age of 8 that there was a need to stand up for someone else, then it tells me that everyone has that kind of courage inside of us.   I pray that when it's time for me to stand up for someone else, I will find in me what that little girl found in her and become a voice against hurtful actions.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Taking Leave

I had this dream last night.  Are you ready for it?  Here I go....

I was watching the next Toy Story movie.  In it, Buzz Lightyear kept breaking.  His leg broke, then someone fixed it.  Then he actually broke in half.  Some sad music was playing in the background.  The movie went on to depict the slow but sure wear and tear of poor Buzz.  Then, he eventually died.  And I was sad.

If you're a parent, single or not, you are going to have moments of just insane wear and tear on YOU. Acknowledge this and prepare for it by making plans for breaks.  A good friend of mine once told me to spend at least one day every other week just on me.  However, if you're like me and you can't afford the time you end up getting burnt out. 

When I woke up from this dream I realized I need a vacation!  Like a full week with just some ME time.  I think dreaming of and actually feeling sad about a cartoon dilema is enough to tell me I have not been taking any time out for myself and am feeling surrounded by kids.  In my dream I believe Buzz represented me!!  It was me who was experiencing all that wear and tear.  That's why I was so sad about it.

I put in my request for leave and it was approved... for next week.  Yay!  The majority of the leave will be spent catching up on housework-- mopping floors, shampooing carpets, laundry and dusting.  I also want to clean my car inside and out.  I know, I know.  What kind of vacation is that?  But trust me, having the time to do these things without being distracted by the kids will be such a blessing.

Also I'm completely broke right now so I don't have money for pampering.  However, I have a perfectly good massage pad on my chair, a nice garden tub in my bathroom, packets of Aveeno oatmeal baths, cool pedicure stuff and music.  I will have a spa at home!!

So, all you moms out there, make sure you take your breaks!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Single Military Mom Dilema

Being a single mom is tough enough when it comes to dating.  First, you gotta keep the guy outta your family until your relationship with him has proven to be solid after time.  Second, your choice in men might not only have changed for you but you have to realize that you have baggage that not many men are up to accepting.  Kids are frightening to single men!  Stepping into a family is a huge deal and it takes a special kind of guy to want to do it.  With both those obvious dating challenges being mentioned, think about the single mom who's in the military.  That's another huge chunk of baggage.

Being a single military mom doesn't only involve dragging kids to the base daycare at 4am for an exercise or bringing them to work with you when you get called in on a day off and you don't have a sitter.  There are deployments, short tour assignments to overseas bases and long assignments that can keep you at the next place for at least 4 years.  So dating comes with the understanding that you may not be at that particular location for as long as you might like.  It means that if you're deeply into the person you're dating and you get orders to another base, you are faced with a dilema.

I leave for my new assignment in two months.  I will be leaving behind Patrick.  We've been dating for quite some time; long enough for him to be there during all the cool and not-so-cool changes in my kids.  Long enough to learn what irritates us about each other and what completely woos us about each other.  We're currently friggin heartbroken about my departure. 

Although I am excited about the new assignment and being near my brothers, I am really really sad about leaving Patrick.  I've come up with all these ideas like leaving the kids with my brothers every other month for a week and flying to visit him.  Or Skyping with him.  Or writing (not emailing but handwriting) letters for some old fashioned romantic fun.  I've dreamt up all sorts of cool ideas that'll help make our distance tolerable.  But at the end of the day when the kids are asleep and it's just the two of us on the phone, I can't help but hang up with him because I don't want him to hear me cry.  I'm sad.  I don't want to leave him. 

I knew from the beginning that this time would eventually come.  We both knew.  We've talked about it and sometimes one of us would randomly bring up the "what if" question.  So it wasn't a surprise.  But the knowledge and understanding of him dating a military girl and me dating as a military girl didn't stop us from actually falling in a little too deep for military comfort.  The military doesn't stop people from dating.  Jeez, in fact people in the military date more than anything with the size of our population and constant opportunities to meet new people.  But it does have the expectation of commitment.

I've served my country for 10.5 years.  That's a long time and I've grown to love it.  The military and I have had a relationship that has been through so many changes and over time those changes only feed my commitment to it.  In the beginning, I swore I wouldn't reenlist.  I've gone from being a know-it-all young girl to a salty supervisor who's seen enough to know a lot but not enough to claim anything but experience.  Through my years I've learned that of all the things that are pounded into us, commitment is the one solid thing that is expected and with it I will succeed not only as a military member but as a woman, a mom and one day a wife.  That's because commitment isn't just about the military, it's about us individually.

When we deploy, we rely on commitment to keep our families strong and full of integrity.  Spouses that cheat on each other are good examples of that lack of commitment to each other.  When we date, we understand that because we are in the military our relationship isn't going to be in the lead.  The military will move you to another location one day.  Or maybe your work days will change to midshift while your girlfriend is a 9-5 worker.  You'll have to go on a temporary duty for a couple of weeks to another state.  There are tons of things that call us to duty and it makes dating challenging.  All the time.

So Patrick and I are currently sitting in this challenge.  I don't know how it's going to pan out.  If I could lead our relationship, I'd do it with the "We can do it" mentality.  I'm all for making it work.  Our relationship has been pretty darn solid and I believe it has great potential to turn into more.  I truly would grab Patrick by the hand and drag him (not literally or anything) through this relationship saying, "Babe we can do it.  This ain't a thing."  But I can't.  There are two of us in the relationship.  I can certainly display that optimistic attitude about it but if there's a fraction of doubt in his mind, it'll totally just kill our chances.  So I don't know what will happen. 

This is definitely not a fun Single Military Mom challenge.