Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Baby Mama Money

This might just be a random post. Maybe a post about nothing. Maybe a post about diaper rash. Sometimes I think I write just to have adult interaction. Although, this isn't a back and forth conversation, a banter of some sorts, but it is a step away from the animal sounds, and "NO, that's CA-CA" I find myself saying more often then a somewhat normal person should.

First and foremost, we made it safe and sound back to North Carolina. Secondly, I am not about to take credit for something I did not do. I did NOT drive the 10 hours back home. I owe all that to my Dad. However, I did stay awake for the entire trip. Olivia did great. She slept the whole time, only waking each time we got gas, then quickly falling back asleep. However, when we did arrive at 5 am she was all jazzed up and ready to play. And DANG is it cold here! I forgot that part. After a quick stint of running around like a maniac, playing with her toys, and ripping things from the shelves, she was down for a nap. I, on the other hand, had to be at a job interview in 3 hours. Did I forget to mention that part?

One of the most difficult things I faced during this deployment was letting go of my financial independence. I have worked from the day I was able to say, "Cream and Sugar?"  I loved working. I STILL love working. I love the paycheck, the feeling of accomplishment, and having something to call my own. We made the decision before BW left that I wouldn't work, and with that came a lot of sacrifice. I remember crying on the phone to BW asking, "who is going to pay my cell phone bill?" It just didn't seem right. Why should he have to pay for my Starbucks addiction? Why should he have to fill my gas tank? And he wondered, why SHOULDN'T he? This was his job, and something he took great pride in; being able to support his family. This is something I'm still not comfortable with and laugh every time I see money in my account labeled "Baby Mama Money, go buy something nice"....and then I go buy diapers, wipes, and baby clothes. Doesn't he know how a Mama's mind works?

From the moment BW deployed I set goals for myself. All sorts of goals; physical, mental, spiritual and just plain goals. I wanted to accomplish certain things by the time he came home. I was determined to get a job, put Miss O in daycare and settle in to a routine. I feared BW coming home to a house full of messy toys, a disheveled mess of a wife, and a baby who hadn't gained any sense of routine or structure. As humans, we all seek structure and routine and thrive in environments that provide us with that. I wanted BW to come home to a well kept house, a hard working wife, and a baby that played well with others. This was something I NEEDED to accomplish; and if not, I failed. I had 10 + months to get this together. If there is something my soldier deserves, its to come home, kick his feet up and just sit.

After being awake for nearly 48 hours, I dusted off my 'interview clothes' (this is a lie, they were brand new. HE TOLD ME TO BUY SOMETHING NICE!), and headed out the door. This was one of the most challenging interviews I had ever been on. Either that or my mind just wasn't right and I couldn't formulate responses. Articulation is a skill, and I do believe its something you can lose if not used often (ie animal noises, and baby talk). I sat in this interview for over an hour answering an array of questions. I'm never one to take these things too seriously. I laugh. I joke. I'm sarcastic. It's the way of my world. I like to think of an interview as a friendly conversation between two people, and one person holds the fate of the other in their hands, and has the potential to make or break their day. NO PRESSURE.  Side note- before the interviewer came into the room I was stuck in my jacket. STUCK IN MY JACKET. I thought about just going through the interview wearing a huge puffer jacket. Then decided my shirt was too expensive not to show off, so it would be best if I stepped out of my jacket. I probably would have nailed the interview if he walked in mid-step out, because lord knows that's a skill we all need to succeed. Long story short, the interview ended with a job offer...and mama walked out the door with a smile on her face, jump in her step, and a knot in my stomach...oh, daycare. Crap.

I will not go in to any sort of a rant about why I'm not cut out for this stay at home mom gig. Sometimes my reasons seem offensive, or come out the wrong way, or just make me sound like some baby hating, devil of a woman.  Don't get me wrong, the LAST thing I want to do is take Miss O out of her home for 10 hours a day and stick her in some germ invested room where some brat is going to rip her hair bow out. I don't want that. What I do want is my sanity back and a reason to put pants on that aren't 100% cotton. Again, the stay at home mom thing is not something I will talk about... but for real, super BIG high fives for the women that do it...and super BIG bottles of wine for the women that LOVE doing it. See, there are two different kinds of womens.

The first week being in our home has been hard. There is no denying that. I cried. I cried a lot. In my defense, the second day I was here I got a terrible case of food poisoning and Miss O was left to take care of herself. This is when I praise the Disney Junior Gods.  We are finally getting in to the swing of things, and we look forward to the changes ahead. We both will have to do lots of adjusting, we will have good days, we will have bad days. Each day that passes is one day closer to our soldier's homecoming. I am so proud of him, but he doesn't hesitate to tell me 100 times a day how proud I make him.

For months I had been eying a particular dress for Miss O, a dress she would wear for his homecoming. A dress I couldn't fathom spending HIS hard earned money to buy her that she will wear once. Not to mention its ridiculously priced, and ridiculously obnoxious. Only something a girl would understand.

...now Mama gets to buy her that dress.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Home Sweet Home

In exactly one week from today my car will be packed, Olivia will be snoozin (hopefully) in the backseat, and we will be on our 10 hour 'adventure' back to North Carolina. Now let's all have a moment of silence, and pray.

When BW started leaving on and off for trainings, I began to get a feel for what it would be like doing it on my own. I worked from home, while caring for an infant and experiencing a roller coaster of emotions because my husband was constantly in and out the door.We were always washing his uniform, always packing his bags, always saying goodbye. There would be no end to this until Spring of 2013, for which, I saw no end in sight. Our phone calls were filled with (my) tears, anxieties, and exhaustion. He begged me to do something, pleaded with me to make a decision. Was I going to stay? Or was I going to go? I felt if I went I was giving up; that I was already saying I couldn't do it. I was weeks away from a significant pay raise at work. I'd be leaving our home, Olivia's freshly painted nursery. I'd be leaving everything BW and I created before he left. It would just sit there, untouched. On the flip side, I thought of dealing with Olivia's first fever alone, her first real sickness, her first words, her tantrums. She wasn't the easiest baby, and he knew that. He reassured me it wasn't giving up, and left the decision up to me. I did not want to do this alone.  The decision was made.

Shortly after I settled in with my parents, I left to visit BW in El Paso before he left for Afghanistan. There is nothing comparable to the moment in which we said our 'goodbyes.' When my Dad picked me up from the airport he asked how it went. "I just can't stop crying." ...and I cried, and cried. At this point I knew. I knew it wasn't about 'doing it alone,' because I could very well do it, but the enormity of the situation and what I was about to experience was something bigger then I was. It wasn't about late night fevers, or temper tantrums; it was about weeks without phone calls, sleepless nights, fear, danger, and that other 'D' word we don't talk about. It was about War. My husband was at War. I always will have 'what-if' moments about all of this. I will always wonder if I should have done things differently. It isn't rocket science that two incomes are better then one. However, I've been blessed and rewarded with the opportunity to witness all of Olivia's FIRSTS, teach her, watch her grow, and sit on the floor with her and just PLAY. We get to play all day. I'm lucky like that.

I am forever grateful for what my Mom has done for me. Three days after I had O, BW left for a few days. My Mom came to help. These were unbelievable moments, and I am so grateful to of had them. She never wanted to step on my toes, she simply wanted to just 'be there.' She never wanted to impose, but always had her bags packed in case I needed her to stay. She never said she was tired; she let me sleep in. She never complained about late night feedings; she did them all. I would call her, and simply not have the words to speak, but the crying in the background would tell her to get in her car. I am forever thankful for the solo trips to Target, the worry-free showers, and the opportunities to just breathe. She has taught me so much, guided me every step of the way and has given me the confidence to be the best Mom I can be.

I get very emotional as I begin to think about the time Olivia has had with my Dad. Those two had a rocky start. As I've said before, Olivia is sensitive to male voices, and her Poppy's was no exception. It took weeks for her to warm up to him. Their relationship makes my heart explode. It's like taking a glimpse into my childhood. The way he makes her laugh, the goofy things he does, the love in his eyes... I know all those things. I had all those things too. I asked him one night if being a grandparent is everything he imagined, "It's better. It's more then I could have ever imagined." He will take it the hardest when we leave. I can't even begin to think of what his tears will do to me. Their relationship is special. She loves her 'pa pa' ...and that pony he's going to buy her.

I have bittersweet feelings about going back. By being here, at my parents, I've been able to escape some of the reality of the situation. My room here is only full of a few suitcases full of stuff. Even when BW had given me some of his stuff  in El Paso, I shipped that stuff home ASAP. I really didn't want any of his stuff here. It made things easier. Before I left our house I made sure all of his stuff was put away. I didn't want anything hanging around. Nothing. Nada. Now its time to face that stuff  head on. I want Olivia to go play in his closet (don't ask), I want to display our photos, I want to watch cartoons with O in Mommy and Daddy's room, and I want her to REALLY know and feel that he is coming home.

I am not allowed to give specific dates but I spoke to BW today and he ended our conversation by saying, "See you in X Months!".... for the first time since he left, I had goosebumps. The good kind. We are so close. SO CLOSE.