Two wonderful things happened in the past month: my little man turned one and we (finally, finally) hit the half way point in Jake’s deployment, which just about sums up my entire world right now. Little man and deployment; deployment and little man. Both: constant, relentlessly demanding, impossibly challenging, full of surprises. I expected hard. I expected unique challenges with Kai when he suddenly discovered ‘Dada’ wasn’t around anymore. I did not, however, expect that daily life with Jake deployed would quickly turn into a full-blown game of survival of the fittest between Kai and I (hint: He’s ‘winning’).
To be fair, I did go into this deployment reasonably optimistic (see last post). When Jake left, however, it didn’t take long for the reality to sink in: Deployment is hard. Really, really, really hard. Wind up on the couch sobbing into a glass of wine at the end of the day hard. I haven’t eaten all day and my child won’t sleep and I have no relief coming hard. My kid just saw someone who looks like my husband and he got so excited until he realized it wasn’t his Daddy heart-breaking hard. No husband/father here on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Kai’s birthday, my birthday, Valentine’s day, every day hard. Shuttling my baby from doctor to doctor trying to help him stop scratching himself bloody and everyone has an answer but no one has a solution and my best friend can’t hug me at the end of it hard. Empty bed, dinner for one, starting to forget what his laugh sounds like hard. It. Is. HARD. But the hardest thing, the daily thing I struggle with more than any other is the disappointment with myself. I expected to be so much stronger than this.
I expected to be stronger because I have so much to be thankful for, so much to fill up my time and energy with. I live less than a mile from the beach in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I have family living all around me who are so willing to give their time to Kai and I. I have a little man who is so full of joy. As far as deployments go, the odds were stacked in my favor that I would be just fine. Fast forward three months in and I am completely wiped out, too busy with baby to enjoy the beach, too embarrassed at the endlessness of all our needs to reach out to family as much as I should, too impatient and tired to appreciate Kai’s good moments when they are right in front of me, and ultimately, too tired to pretend like I can do this on my own anymore. There is so much relief in admitting that you have no strength of your own to offer. In the military culture of “suck it up buttercup” and finding pride in slogans like “Navy Wife: Hardest Job in the Navy,” its not easy to lay it down and say: I don’t have what it takes. I need help. I need someone stronger than me to take over.
This morning I read a story about a young girl who married a Marine and moved with him to a foreign country where she found herself disillusioned and feeling desperately alone. She wrote to her mother, telling her that she couldn’t take it anymore and that she was going to come home. Her mother wrote her back, saying just this:
Two women looked through prison bars
One saw mud, the other saw stars.
The funny thing about believing in a loving God is that its easy to forget that loving isn’t giving us everything we ask for, something I’m understanding in a way I never really did until I became a parent myself. So here I am kicking and screaming my way through deployment because I don’t want to have to rely on anyone and when I finally can’t do it anymore, here He is, at my kitchen table, whispering “Let me. I’m here. I have what it takes, especially when you don’t” (2 Corinthians 9:12). And all this worn out girl-turned-mother can say is a tired, thankful “Yes. OK.”
I choose stars.