Thursday, November 17, 2016

Because I have so many feelings...

     When I have a lot of feelings running through my brain and coursing through my veins, I take out the laptop and start typing. Some people get their feelings out by talking with friends, crying, eating, drinking and such, but I take to my blog when I need a release and get my feelings out through words.
     I've been through every emotion possible in the last week, but most of all, I've felt reminiscent. I'm not one of those people who ruminates on Facebook with, "Where does the time go?" because I've seen the time go by, from June 18, 1999, to November 17, 2016. I birthed a baby boy and now I have a man child seven months away from turning 18 and graduating from high school, and most likely going to college. We don't know where the Army will be sending us after we are done with our time here in Washington, and I'm scared I could possibly be far away from Addison. I know, Erin, cut the cord, but hear me out.
     Adam started deploying overseas when Addison was two years old. It was easy at that time, because he had no clue where Adam was. As the years passed and he got older, he realized dad was gone and would ask me, "When's dad coming home?" Luckily, "Soon" seemed to work. 
     Now he's 17 and when I look back at all the total years (around five of just deployment time), I find myself so incredibly thankful to have Addison with me these past 17 years, especially during deployments. He gave me a reason to get out of bed every day. He's kept me busy being a soccer, football, and baseball mom. He's kept me on my toes every single day, whether it was cutting his finger with scissors and needing stitches, or finding a flare gun in the garage and wondering what it was, went to the front yard with his friends, pulled the lever back, and it shot off down the road a good couple hundred yards toward the school. We all hightailed as fast as we ever ran back into the house.
     We've had our shares of ups and downs, like any mother and child. We've fought and we've laughed. We cried and we played in the rain together. We took trips to Florida and Massachusetts and Tennessee to see family to try and pass those long months Adam was away. We celebrated Christmases with friends, eating tacos and making crunk cups. I've put him to bed when we lost two Rangers, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, only to have him ask me not to take a bath because he was afraid I was going to drown, because at the age of 10 he understood what was going on. I tried to shield him from as much reality as possible, but he's a smart kid who picks up on my own feelings all the time.
     We have a connection, an unbreakable bond from going through so much together while Adam was deployed. My best friend and I left the house with our first dog, and when we came back without her, I had to try my best to explain to a young Addison that she wasn't coming home again, because she went to heaven. He saw me cry when my uncles died, when my grandparents died. I tried not to cry in front of him, and that was wrong of me. I wish I could go back and show him it's okay to show your feelings and cry when you miss your dad, when you need to get your emotions out. 
     This weekend Addison will travel to my home state of Massachusetts for a college visit and to meet with the baseball coach. He'll spend time with my brother-in-law (who is also one of my best friends, and has helped me more than I can ever thank him for during deployments and through life in general), my mother-in-law, (who I've given reason to dislike me, but forgives and still calls me "Little Girl," which I absolutely love, and loves me like a daughter, and I love her like a mother), and my brother and his fiance, who I miss immensely, and finally my dad and stepmom (I would sell all of Adam's fishing rods to be able to sit with my dad and some IPA's and watch golf or the Patriots with, and sit and talk with my stepmom, who I took for granted growing up, but I've grown up and love her because she's always shown me nothing but love). 
     I don't know what it will be like when Addison leaves the house. I don't know how I'm going to handle not getting up with him every day for school like I have since Pre-K. I don't know what it's going to be like to buy a bag of chips and it will still be there the next day, because he won't be here to eat the entire bag and I have no clue when I'm searching for it. I don't like the unknown. Adam and I don't know, and won't know for a couple more months, where the Army will send us next. I could be 30 minutes from Addison or thousands of miles, depending on where he ends up and we end up. I'm thankful for technology, although I have a feeling Addison might not answer the fifth time I FaceTime in one day.
     I've got to learn how to let go, not totally, but enough so that when he does leave, I can survive it. Addison has been my rock and he's been my thorn, he's been my son and he's been my friend. We've always been together. Adam commented awhile back, "You and Addison are the same person." I said no way, he's so much like you too! It could be the time we've spent together, or it could be the genes, or a combination of both. I can see it though, we both have no sense of fear or shame. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing. Let's go with good. I see a spider, I smack it with my hand. Addison has done many things growing up that he tells me about now (rope swings, riding small Barbie Jeeps down steep hills) and it doesn't surprise me. 
     Addison, this is for you. When I was pregnant with you, I couldn't sleep one night, so I went into your nursery, sat down in the recliner, and rubbed my belly while talking to you and crying. I promised you I would be the best mother I could be. I'd make mistakes, but I would learn from them. I told you I would protect you with every fiber of my being, I would die for you. I remember that night like it was yesterday. Now you're a senior in high school, applying to colleges. It hurts my heart to know you'll fly from the nest soon, but I hope you soar, and stay true to who you are and what you believe in. Keep your mind open, your heart open, and always keep that sense of humor, you are so funny it makes me proud when you make me and others laugh. The world could use more humor, and you are the perfect person to provide it. Be true to yourself. You are a strong kid, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I have the utmost faith that you will go out into the world and make it a better place. You're a military child - you are resilient. I will always feel bad that you grew up away from our family, and didn't get to spend weekends with your grandparents or sleepovers with your cousins. But, you have grown up with a sense of pride, pride in your father for serving his country, pride in our country itself, and pride in knowing exactly who you are and have been your whole life. Your incredible sense of self and self-esteem has always astounded me. You make me a better person, and everyone around you. 
     You've made it easy for me to be a mother, so thank you. I love you more than I can ever put into words, into a hug, into a kiss on the cheek when I grab you and am able to plant a big one on you (when you're sitting, of course, since you're eight inches taller than me). 
     I will always be here for you. You may leave, but I'm always here. You will always be baby. Love you forever.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Because this is for you, Adam

     Most days go by, and for me, it's a lot of the same thing. Baseball games, meetings and functions for 2nd Ranger Battalion, and trying to find the energy to clean something. Last night, while surrounded by my fellow Ranger wives saying their tearful good-byes, I realized how lucky I really have been as a military spouse.
     Sometime last year I read a comment on a post about the 75th Ranger Regiment - it was along the lines of, "It's easier to get into the Regiment than it is to stay in the Regiment." This gave me pause, as I thought about Adam's then 19 years in the Regiment. On April 4 of this year, he has been within the Regiment, at all three battalions, for 20 years - 20 straight years. 
     If you know me, I don't like statistics, or if I see one, I like to think I'm not one. In two short months we will celebrate 20 years of marriage. Statistically, Adam and I should not have made it this long in marriage. We are both children of divorce, and in our early days when he was a private and I was working a minimum-wage job ($5.50 an hour - it was a long time ago, okay?), we would scrape together our change to go buy the Sunday paper. We ate a lot of pasta and cereal.
     When I pause and think about Adam being within the same unit for now 20+ years, my heart swells with pride. Not just any unit, but the elite Infantry unit of the Army, a special operations unit. While I have been with him since before he left for basic training, and arrived at Fort Benning on his very first day at 3rd Ranger Battalion to live together as an engaged couple, I've seen him change from a timid private first class to a congenial, self-confident command sergeant major. I don't say this to brag, I say this because I realize what an accomplishment this would be for anyone, but this is about Adam.
     He was among the first boots on the ground in Afghanistan on Oct. 19, 2001, when he and other Rangers jumped from a perfectly good plane onto an airfield. It was shown on CNN and I nearly lost my shit seeing it and wondering, "Is one of those men Adam?" To be honest, I don't know a lot of what he has done in his 14 deployments. I don't want to know, because the war isn't over, and he's gone back again and again. I can't imagine the things he's seen, the experiences he's had, the strength he's had to garner to keep it in when his fellow Rangers gave the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. 
     I don't know a whole lot about his job, because we choose to not make it the focus of our life or family, even though that is sometimes the toughest part of his job. When he comes home, he's Adam, he has no rank and he is himself. I told him years ago, the day you retire, we are getting a couple kegs of beer, and we are going to sit down and he's going to tell me everything he's done while being a Ranger, both stateside and overseas. That way, I don't have to worry any more.
     I'm having a hard time putting into words the emotions I feel, which is rare for me when I sit down and write. Adam is everything I could have ever hoped for in a husband - affectionate, caring, compassionate, funny as hell, and so handsome I get compliments from friends who know I won't kick their ass when they tell me how attractive he is. It doesn't bother me, because the boy who I met with the Sun-In orange surfer hair parted down the middle has grown into a rugged Silver Fox. We don't have fights or if we disagree, it's rare. We've seen so many marriages fall apart, we've spent so much time not together, that when we are together, we cherish every second, and we are usually laughing. If you've ever been able to spend any time around Adam when he's not in uniform, you know just how funny he is, and even in uniform, I know he loves to keep his sense of humor going. 
     Adam, I appreciate you more than you'll ever know. I am not a vocal person with my feelings, as you know, but please know that every day when you are at work, whether here or overseas, I am thinking about you, about all the sacrifice you have made for our family and for our country. As most military spouses know, there will be birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays when your spouse will not be around. I can't tell you to not feel guilt over this, but I can tell you that you are always on our minds at these times. We've learned to adapt, whether we celebrate Christmas in November or January, your birthday three months later, etc. I know it pains you to have missed baseball and football games, and other parts of Addison's life. I have your back, always. I will take pictures and video and send them to you. We will Skype on Christmas morning while he opens his presents. 
     I may call myself a badass (or, technically, the weapon, weapon magazine, and socks that somehow have declared me a badass), but you are the true badass. You've given your heart and soul to your job and the 75th Ranger Regiment, but you also have given Addison and I a part of that heart and soul, which we grasp tightly and keep close to our own hearts. Your endless energy and motivation remind me of how much you love your job, and I love that you love it. You're good at what you do, but that's no secret. 
     You inspire me daily, even on my worst days. When I'm in pain and feel like giving up, you remind me I'm strong. You go grocery shopping, clean the house, and do whatever needs to be done around the house, even after leaving for work before the sun comes up and coming home when it's dark out. 
     I can never tell you how much I love you, because you are embedded so deep inside my heart, I know you are my true love, my everlasting love. It's been rough at times, being married to a Ranger, I won't lie. Eventually, you will leave the Regiment. I can't say I'm not ready, but I'm also not ready to leave the best unit we've been a part of for 20 years. Thank you for being THE badass. I love you, always and forever.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Because I'm done with the guilt

It’s been three years now that I’ve been living with chronic pain and invisible illnesses. It’s taken me the entire three years to come to terms that my life will never be the same, and it’s something I still struggle with every day. What bothers me most, what is usually on my mind, is the guilt I feel.

We are a military family who recently moved from the South to the Pacific Northwest. We’ve lived here 10 months now, and we have not been able to see any local sights, visit Seattle for the day, or do any of the things I see my friends here doing, because of me. I’d love to spend the day in Seattle, playing tourist, but I know I can’t physically do it. I would use half my spoons just getting out of bed, getting dressed, and for the car ride. I see friends going on hikes in the beautiful scenery here, and I feel guilty I can’t say one Saturday morning to my husband and son, “Let’s go for a hike!”

What makes me feel the most guilty is what I feel I am missing out on with my family. My son plays high school baseball, and there are some away games I have to miss because I can’t drive or even ride in the car that long without knowing I will be in a lot of pain and also paying for it the next day. I feel guilty that my husband, who works 12+ hours most days, has to come home and cook supper, and do the dishes, and in general, clean the house. When he asks me if I want to go out to eat on a Friday night, I want to say yes so very badly, but by that time of the day, I’m lucky to have one spoon left to use, if I can even get off the couch. I can see the disappointment in his eyes, but being the man he is, doesn’t express it to me so as to not make me feel bad about not being able to go out.

I feel guilty when I have to cancel plans with friends. I’ve learned to try to not make plans, but as a volunteer, there are certain things I have to attend, and I enjoy it. There are meetings and functions I sometimes have to miss because of pain or exhaustion. I want to be there for all of my fellow military wives and their husbands at promotions, ceremonies, etc., but sometimes it’s just not possible.

Will I ever be able to rid myself of this guilt? I don’t know. I want to be a super mom and wife, a good friend, a volunteer my fellow military wives can count on, and to be proud of what I’m able to do, instead of what I’m not able to do. Before my chronic pain, one day I decided that having a positive outlook on life was much easier than being negative all  the time, and it really did change my way of thinking, and made me happier in all facets of life. Maybe now is my time to let go of the guilt. No, not maybe. It IS the time to let it go.