Friday, January 20, 2012

Because you'll blink and miss it...

I'm no expert on parenting. In fact, when I meet people, I usually throw it right out there - I parent unconventionally. I don't always do everything right when it comes to being a parent, but no one does.

I have a hard time when I see or hear parents complain about spending time with their kids. (A quick side note: Addison and I are no doubt co-dependent. Spending so much one-on-one time for the past 12 years is my excuse, along with the fact we have each other to lean on during deployments.) I LOVE school vacations, days off, and weekends. I miss him when he leaves for school. He has pointedly asked me to NOT be home when he gets home from school, but I can't bring myself to do it. This is starting to sound creepy.

What I'm saying is, I enjoy his company. Not all of the time, because I am human. Addison is a talker; I'm usually pretty quiet. There have been times when I have said, "Please, for the love of God, just stop talking for five minutes."

I understand the need to vent, the need for alone time, and the wish that my family lived in the same town so I could actually drop him off there for a weekend. If Carol Brady had been a real person, no doubt she would have told Alice to watch her kids because she was meeting Mike for Happy Hour down at the local bar. If those damn happy kids got unruly, they could always go out back for some potato sack races.

I had one child by choice. I knew what I could handle and one was it. I have a lot of respect for anyone who chooses to have children, period. I also have respect for people who choose not to have kids, for any reason. That's their choice. I grew up saying I was going to have six kids. Then I realized what having six kids would actually be like. If I had just kept going, and had my own spawntourage, I would probably have my own show on TLC right now.

I see so many moms on Facebook wishing their child a happy birthday, and they always ask, "Where did the time go?" Addison is at that age where he would rather spend time with his friends than his parents. He's slowly slipping through our fingers, on his way to adulthood. Don't let those years you want to rip your hair out and wish Play-Doh was never invented go by too fast. Some day you might look back and realize those were the years you want back - when they let you kiss them without being embarrassed, when you're the prettiest woman in the world to them, when they want to marry you, not Katy Perry.

Get down on the floor and make a robot out of Legos. Put on the tiara and drink the pretend tea. Go to the zoo, the park, Chuck E. Cheese (they have beer there for a reason), go outside and catch fireflies, a snowflake on your tongue, or whatever you want to do.

The next time you're having a bad day, when you are wishing they are 18 and out of the house, go listen to "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills & Nash. I guarantee you'll cry.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Because it's not a competition...

I have a confession to make to my civilian friends. I used to roll my eyes and exclaim, "Oh, please. Get over it," whenever I'd read a status update that said, in general, "My husband is going away for business for two weeks. What am I going to do?" I wanted to reply with, "Bitch please. Spare me. Is his life in near-constant danger? Is he being shot at? Is he praying as he rolls through the streets of Afghanistan to not hit a landmine? Then STFU."

My mother taught me an important lesson a few years back that made me rethink my meanness and self-pity. If that is what is awful for you, it's awful for you. Who am I to tell you how you should feel, and what you should think? This is our life, and your life is your life. You may not know what my life is like as a military wife, and I don't know what it's like to be married to anyone besides a soldier.

Now, for my fellow military spouses - it seems like we all like to play the "Who's got it worse?" game. "Yeah, well my husband is at a school for two months and I have four kids, so it's harder for me," or "My husband has more rank and works longer hours than yours." Come on. Knock that shit off. This is what makes it divisive among us spouses, and it's time to quit it.

I look at each and every wife on the merit of her, not her husband's rank. If I like you, I like you because of who you are, not what I think being your friend will do for my husband's career. If you insist by defining yourself by your husband's rank, unit, etc., I can guarantee you we'll never play beer pong together. Officer wives are no better than enlisted wives, and enlisted wives are no better than officer wives.

In my Utopia, we support each other, not try to one-up each other. I'm not saying there isn't support - Adam's unit, in particular, is amazing in the way others will go above and beyond for any reason. One of my first assignments when I worked at the newspaper back in 1997 was covering a luncheon. I had a neighbor, who was obviously born an asshole, constantly yell at me across the loop, "Ranger, Ranger, where's my Ranger?" Adam was away training at the time, and I suppose this dude must have hated his own life and was jealous. Anyway, I'm at this luncheon, and who is seated at my table? Two men who were in charge of Adam's whole unit. I introduced myself and one of them asked, "So, is everything going okay while he's gone?" Me, never to be the shy one, answered back, "Actually, no." Long story short, that wonderful man contacted the other soldier's chain of command and I was never harassed again.

I don't want this to come across negatively. I'm just saying I've seen too much of this "I've got it worse" attitude. You know what? Someone always has it worse, so count your blessings, get over it, and let's play some beer pong.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Because this is how it is...

Let me tell you a little secret that some of you already know - it's not easy being a military spouse. It's not easy being a spouse, period, but when you throw in deployments, long work hours, etc., life can be particularly difficult.

That being said, this life will either make you or break you. I hadn't planned on marrying a guy in the Army. I had my life set. Then that funny little thing called love hit me and one of us (not me) was getting married as a teenager.

There were many, many times I thought I couldn't do this. I literally did break, but with the help of friends and family, much like Humpty Dumpty, I was put back together again.

Through the 15 years of being a Ranger wife, I've done a lot of things I thought I would never do. I always thought I'd have a husband, father, uncle, cousin, etc., around to help me when I needed something. All of my male relatives live in Massachusetts - I live in Georgia. I've had lawnmowers die on me during deployments, but did I go and complain about it? Hell no. I hefted my ass into the truck, drove up to Lowe's, and bought a new lawnmower. I added the oil and did everything I had to to make that thing run.

One Christmas Eve (of course, during another deployment) my washing machine started leaking water. Murphy and his Laws can suck it. I didn't sit and cry, or call someone and bitch about how unfair life is - I once again got in the truck and went to Lowe's. With the help of my fellow Ranger wife, we brought the new washing machine in the house and I got it all hooked up and running.

I'm not bragging, I'm just stating the facts here. Shit is going to happen whether your husband is at work, in the field, deployed, at a school, etc. While it's nice to depend on others, and certainly, my fellow Army spouses have definitely always been there, you have to learn to depend on yourself. Did I want to have to euthanize our first dog, Adam's dog girlfriend, without him? No, of course not. Unfortunately, he was in Iraq. All I could do was send him an email to please call me when he could.

This is your life as a military spouse. Don't let it break you. I wouldn't be the tough-as-nails chick I am today if I had not had all of these experiences. I can also bench press 500 lbs., but that's a different subject for another day.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Because we all like the familiar...

Here's my Oprah post. Although I loathe everything about her, a lot of people seem to find inspiration from her. Well, she's off the air (Really, how many of you religiously watch the OWN Network? Pfffft) so I'm taking over, via the Internet.

I'm a creature of habit. When I find something I like, I stick to it. The only sandwiches I would eat through my elementary school career were pb&j and liverwurst. Don't ask about the liverwurst, because I have no idea as to how that came to be. I'd rather lick a monkey's ass than eat one as an adult.

I'm almost at the maturity level to think to myself, "This will hurt in the morning/cause me to lose a tooth/leave a scar." I'm evolving into a person who desires to try new things - new foods, new books, new almost-everything. Are you?

I've discovered I love to read YA dystopian novels. I want to learn more about mythologist, writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell ("Follow Your Bliss" is attributed to him). I prefer McDonald's any day of the week to any other food, but I'm willing to try new foods - I never knew how yummy scallops were.

It's not that I'm afraid of trying new things - it's that I crave the tried and true, the known. It's time for me to step out of my comfort zone and be more adventurous.

So what are you going to do to step outside your comfort zone? Try your hand at golf? Learn a new language? Maybe there's a movie playing and you think "You couldn't pay me enough money to go watch that." Go see it. Why not surprise yourself with what you may find you actually like?


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Because We're Moving On Up...

Today was Adam's first paycheck of the new year. I noticed it had increased, wait for it ... a cool $10. Wow! That's $20 whole bucks a month! Of course the first thought that went through my head was, "Hot damn, time for a bigger house, and oh yeah, our vehicles are a year old, time to upgrade those bitches! Mercedes-Benz, here I come!"

I lie. My first thought was, "What the hell?" Color me spoiled, I guess. This is why I'm a Republican - the pay raises under Republican presidents have always been more. The majority of the military is Republican for this very fact. But enough about politics, because the first person who tries to argue with me politically will get a whole lotta Erin fist wherever I choose to land it.

I admit I am sheltered to a lot of the real world. Here's where my civilian friends can help a girl out.

Adam has been with the same company (U.S. Army) for 16 years. He's been in the same UNIT (75th Ranger Regiment) since he graduated from Basic Training, Airborne School, and the Ranger Indoctrination Program. Currently he's a first sergeant, and along with the commander, they are in charge of anywhere from 200-250 men at one time.

In the "real world" I don't see how a $20 a month raise would be rational for a civilian counterpart. We get benefits, and we appreciate these. Healthcare is free. And the healthcare also sucks ass. I switched mine so I could see a civilian doctor. I pay some out-of-pocket, but it sure beats being sick and being told by the Army clinic that sure, they have an appointment in a month! Damn skippy!

I'm in no way complaining about living the military life. We love this life. Adam loves his job, and I love that he loves that. That's a whole lotta love 'round here. We have gotten fiscally smart the last 10 years and do not live beyond our means. No credit card debt, y'all!

But, it still seems like a slap in the face to a man who has given 16 years to his country, deployed 9 times in 10 years, and works tirelessly. It's also a slap in the face to every member of the military.

If you feel the need to try to point out anything related to the military life, and have never walked a mile in our shoes, don't even start with me. That said, I have some gold nuggets to go purchase.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Because I Want to Let You Know...

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love how I'm able to keep in touch with old friends and relatives I haven't seen in years. I love being able to write on Adam's Facebook wall when he's deployed. I love meeting fellow bibliophiles and Boston sports fans on Twitter.

But here's what I hate. And I would be happy to never, ever see any of this on social media ever again:

1) "My two-month-old just said her first word!" Lady, no she didn't. She's two months old. Get a grip. She was probably pooping and let out a grunt that sounded suspiciously like "da."

2) If you think you may wake up the next day and regret what you posted on Facebook or Twitter, don't post it. (Drunken fun posts excluded. Those are always welcome. Only so I don't feel like the only one.) I'm sorry your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, blah blah blah sucks. There have been enough of these posts to make me cringe when I see them. Just because you can post it doesn't mean you should. It's embarrassing for you and for those of us who read it.

3) I'm sure your baby is cute and you love him/her. Sometimes I'll even look at more than one picture of your kid. That is, until you start posting the same baby in 500 pictures in a month. Unless that baby is teaching the dog how to jump through a flaming hoop one day and teaching Grandma how to use her cellphone the next day, a few pictures here and there will suffice.

4) Constant whining. ENOUGH. If your life sucks that bad, maybe it's time to take a look at it instead of posting about it, and figure out how you can change it, even if it's a small change. After a while, do you notice you don't have any comments on such posts? It's because everyone hid your whiny ass.

5) For the love of God, can we please use proper spelling and grammar? Some posts I can't even read, and it's not because I'm old, SMH! I weep for the future of the English language. Stop making up your own spelling of words. My laptop screen is way too full of red ink from me correcting your lazy ass.

6) The next status I see that says along the lines of "OMG I'm so sad/upset/mad" I'm going to comment and say, "Awesome!" If you're that sad/upset/mad about something, get the hell off the computer and deal with it. Sympathy trollers will never receive an ounce of sympathy from me, because they're just that - they want sympathy. I am not cold-hearted (only 3/4, I have a working 1/4 "Give a shit" chamber) and I've offered sympathy, encouragement, etc. to those who actually tell why they are like they are.

7) If the best you've got to say is, "I just ate cheese!" then really, why post inane comments? No one cares. Honestly. No one cares. I'd rather hear what kind of bowel movement you had (ghost wiper? endless wiper? the kind that makes the toilet water splash back up?) That's just me. I'm gross. I'm also frustrated by posts you'd be better off saying to yourself in your head. Or keep a small notebook so you can jot down these random thoughts of your own genius.

These are just a few of my pet peeves about social media. I have more - but these are my top seven.

I don't hate babies, or you, I just get easily irritated sometimes. This is one of those times. If you're offended, maybe you see yourself in this post? Sorry I'm not sorry for not feeling bad. Opinions, which these are, are like assholes - everyone has one.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Because I Need Your Help...

Last year my goal was to read 52 books. I reached that early in the year, so I upped the number to 100. Lo and behold, I ended up reading 150. Yowza. I read a lot of good books and I read a lot I could have done without.

That said, I have decided this year I will focus on my writing. I don't consider myself a "writer" per se, but this blog has helped me as an outlet to my thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc., ever since a friend suggested I blog during one of Adam's deployments in 2007.

So, here's my problem ... I'm not very good at coming up with what to write unless given a prompt. I once took a writing class in college and I hated it. Why? Because the whole semester we had to come up with our own ideas of what to write for each paper. I loved working at the newspaper because I was told what to write about.

This is where y'all come in. What would YOU like to see me write about? If you know me, you know I don't have a problem voicing opinions or feelings (to a certain extent). I refuse to be negative though, so that's off the table. I've slowly turned myself from a pessimist to an almost optimist. I've found it's a lot easier to be happy if I'm not always crapping on everything. I've learned to appreciate the little things, the things that make me happy (books, hoarding candles, and fabric softener that smells really good).

Let 'er rip ... "Erin, you should write about _________."