While You’re Gone

I’ll take care of things while you’re gone.

I’ll take out the trash on Thursday mornings. I’ll fill up the gas tank. I’ll call maintenance when the water heater breaks. I’ll cook dinner for one (and a half).

I’ll match and fold her too-tight pajamas. I’ll be her audience at bath time. I’ll chase her down and wipe her nose. I’ll go down the biggest, steepest slide at the park with her.

I’ll take care of things while you’re gone, the things you take care of.

Because while you’re gone, the seasons will change. While you’re gone, the pink blossoms on our tree out front will come and go. I’ll chase the mother robin away from building a nest in the front porch light. The grass will fill in green in the bald spots in the backyard. You’ll miss the allergy season while you’re gone (lucky).

But other things will change too. While you’re gone, her feet will get bigger. While you’re gone, she’ll learn a hundred new words. She’ll feed herself with a spoon. Her hair will get longer. She’ll outgrow the clothes she’s in now. Her face will look more and more girlish.

While you’re gone, she’ll steal my phone and lock me out of it at least four dozen times. She’ll throw 100 tantrums. She’ll bonk her head on the coffee table at least once a day. She’ll pull on the doggie’s tail and play in her water bowl like it’s a kiddie pool.

And while you’re gone, she’ll only get to see you on a phone screen. She’ll hear you calling her name through a speaker. She won’t understand why you’re gone until she’s much older.

While you’re gone, you’re gonna miss her like crazy. You’ll miss the tickles and the tantrums, the teething and the toy-throwing, the walks to the park and the dirty diapers.

People don’t take those things into account when they think about deployments.

So honey, I’ll take care of her while you’re gone.

Advertisements

“If This Text Goes Through, I Love You” & Other Hard Things to Hear

Today I’ve been weak. It’s been the definition of “one of those days.” I’ve had ups, downs, side blinders and zig zaggies. Things that have probably bothered me for months have finally caught up to me, and I was ill prepared for their inevitable collision.

This afternoon I spent several hours at my in-laws’ house wiping up dog vomit from my weak stomached Goldendoodle and scrubbing the walls free of my brindle lab’s blood splatters from a tail wound she won’t let heal. They’re both exhausted and anxious, tired of staying in a home that isn’t theirs and missing their daddy something fierce. I want to get them home so badly, staying in Knoxville during this deployment has been so hard on them. They need their routine, their yard, their life back.

While I’m deep in that elbow grease, I receive a text from my husband that they have had a power outage on his base and the wifi isn’t working well. We played phone tag for hours and then he texted me a text I hope no one ever has to receive from someone they love and miss: “Still not working. Phone’s going to die. If this goes through, I love you.”

In a moment when I needed to speak to my companion more than anything, I couldn’t. And it feels wrong. I collapsed onto the couch, my dogs laid each of their heads in my lap, and the impulse to cry hit me like a train… But no tears came. I couldn’t cry. Is it being a mom now, I have acquired this need to stay strong despite all things colliding at once? Some kind of strange strength that is tapped into when you have a child, to protect them and yourself from unnecessary emotional interruption? I don’t know. 

Sitting there, I just pet my babies and breathed in and out. The moment I felt like I got a handle of the moment, I received a second text from my mother, saying my daughter was awake from her nap and crying and I needed to come and nurse her. Responsibility is following me everywhere I go, I can’t escape it. I want to find some closet somewhere and just sit alone in the darkness, imagining myself void of all responsibilities and tasks. Just breathe and be. Just for a minute.

Because today just took me. I got lost in it. It’s not the hardest day I’ve ever had, by any means. But I’m stressing. I miss my husband. I miss his help. I miss his positivity and light. I miss being able to vent all these things to him. Because even though I do get to talk to him sometimes, there’s always a chance the wifi will go out, or he’ll get called off to work on something, or they’ll shift his flight hours and we won’t get to talk that day. 

We have less than two weeks left of this, and I can’t help but feel disappointed in myself for not keeping it together. I was so determined to stay “OK” while he was gone. Because logic tells me that I have to learn to be fine even if he’s not here, because reality is, he won’t be here all the time in the future. I have to learn to cope and thrive, regardless of whether he’s here to help me or not. But I’m not okay, I’m not thriving. I’m mad. I’m bitter. I’m lonely. I’m failing, in my eyes.

Saying all this, I know I need to give myself grace for today, and all my hard days. But for today, while I’m still feeling this, I have to acknowledge this feeling for what it is in this moment. It sucks. I don’t ever want to get a text like that from my husband ever again.

To My Deployed Airman

My Dear Husband,

You may consider this a pity party post. Well, if wanting to acknowledge my husband for what he does for a living makes me sound like I’m whining, then welcome to the party. BYOB, freeloaders.

Dearest darling husband of mine. You’ve been an airman for over 2 years now. We spent the first 7 months of our marriage separated while you were in training. We moved across the country together. We have raised two big puppies together. We’ve made one beautiful baby girl together. I couldn’t be more proud of us and how far we’ve come in just 8 years of knowing each other.

But I talk about us too much. What I mean is, I don’t talk about you enough. You, just you. What you’ve done. Who you’ve become. For me, for our family, for this country.

You’re cringing already, I know.

Because for some reason you don’t really believe what you’re doing is that big of a deal. You kind of scoff and shrug it off when people acknowledge your sacrifice. It’s a humble response, sure. To think, when the ultimate sacrifice to one’s country is to give one’s life for it, you may think that what you’ve given isn’t nearly as significant.

What have you given? 

The freedom to choose where to live, for one. The comfort of family close by. The pleasantries of living in the South. The closeness of friends. The familiarity of home. The ease of travel. 

You’ve given up your time. You’re at the beckon call of your job anywhere anytime. You have to spend nearly half the year overseas. Giving up time with your wife, time in your house, time you could be spending seeing your daughter grow, learn, develop, laugh, say her first words and cut her first teeth.

Dinners. Parties. Holidays. Birthdays. Graduations. Weddings. Funerals. 

And yet, all of this is an easy trade off for you, for the honor of serving something larger than all of this.

Husband, you’re amazing. And I need you to know your sacrifices mean everything to me. I’m humbled and amazed by what an honorable man you are. And no matter what you say, your job is a big deal. What you’re doing is important. Who you are and what you represent is so significant. And if it were possible for me to be speechless, I would be.

Don’t shrug it off when people thank you for your service, husband. Accept it with a full heart. Know that you can take their praise and multiply it out to the thousands who have served and sacrificed before you, so that you may serve our country today, for your family in your time.

Let all your works be made in thanks to those who have gone before you, bringing hope to the land of the brave and glory to our God Almighty.

Thank you, my airman, for being the best husband you can be and the best father our little girl could ever ask for. You honor us by sharing your name with us, and we are so proud to call you our airman. I love you.

Go get em, handsome.

Love Always & Forever, Your Mollybelle

My Husband is Deployed (and It’s Not THAT Bad)

There’s a look people give me when I tell them my husband is deployed overseas. It’s a mix between surprise, pity and what-do-I-do-with-my-hands? It’s usually followed by “I can’t imagine what you must be going through,” “I could never do what you’re doing,” or the quintessentially Southern, “Bless your heart!” I’ve found that my automatic response so far has almost always been, “Oh, thank you. But you know, it’s not that bad.”

And guys, it really isn’t that bad. My husband is fortunate enough to love his military job. He’s deployed for a few short months a couple times a year, and that’s much less than many men and women in the armed forces. Not to mention he has great internet connection where he is, so we get to FaceTime often and I send him dozens of Snapchats of our adorable 4-month-old daughter.

But can we stop playing the comparing-one-milso’s-suffering-to-another game for a second? Because it’s hashtags like #deploymentssuck that have gotten me in the habit of having to reassure people that my husband may be living across the world for part of the year, but it’s not that bad.

Before you go thinking this lady must be dead inside, let me be openly honest. I used to suffer from crippling separation anxiety. The idea that when we’re married, I would be spending several months a year separated from my best friend would have sent me into a full-on panic attack just a few short years ago. There was no way I could get through life on my own, not seeing him every day. Just imagining saying goodbye was agonizing to me. I could never in a million years be a military spouse.

But then I married this airman. We spent 7 months of our first year of marriage apart while he was in training. We moved across the country, away from family, friends, everyone we knew. And guess what? It wasn’t that bad. We made it through because whether or not it’s spent in each others’ company or separated by thousands of miles, the day is still 24 hours long. The sun rises and sets, you breathe in and out and just keep on living. You find new ways to connect with people. A handwritten card, a designated Skype date each week, a phone call on the way home from work, that becomes the new normal.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was from a seasoned Air Force wife who told me, “It doesn’t matter if he’s at home or away, you have to learn to be okay. That means being okay when he’s deployed and you’re the only one home taking care of the kids, and being just as okay when your husband is there with you.” 

I’ve taken this advice to heart and I’m now trying to apply it to our first deployment. At night, I lay my head down on my pillow and he’s not there next to me. He hasn’t gotten to hear our daughter laugh yet. At any given moment, one of us is horribly behind the other on one of our TV shows and might accidentally slip a spoiler (I know that seems trivial, but if you’re married, you know it’s a big deal). 

But I’m choosing not to count down the days till he gets back. I’m choosing to be okay, instead. Because if I lived like that, I would go crazy. I wouldn’t be the mother I need to be if I were constantly thinking I’m not enough for our daughter. I wouldn’t be the wife I need to be if I wallowed in how upset I am that my husband isn’t here with me. It’s unfair for me to put that on him. His job is a blessing, not a curse. It’s our living, not the death of me. His sacrifice does not merit my complaint, and I strongly believe that it is my job as a military spouse to be supportive of him whether he’s sleeping in the same bed as me or on a cot in the desert.

Y’all, 1 day or 1 year, deployments suck. I won’t say they don’t. I miss doing life together. I miss his smell, I miss how he makes me eggs and bacon in the morning, and Lord knows I miss keeping up on our TV shows together. But I choose to believe it’s not that bad. I choose to be positive, for myself and my little family. Whether he is home or away, I love him the same. Sometimes the Internet cuts out in the middle of our daily FaceTime. Sometimes our daughter is melting down and all I want is another pair of hands to take her for me. And sometimes I wake up from a dream and turn towards the other side of the bed to tell him about it, to find he’s not there. 

Remarkably, through it all, I make it to tomorrow … and so does he.

Christmas in Snomaha

Woke up early this morning and knew we must have had snow. There’s a different kind of light from through the shades when it snows, it’s a blueish white light, and it’s brighter than mornings usually are. It’s like nature goes “Quick! Wake up and enjoy this white blanket of beauty before it gets touched!”

I smiled, checked my phone and indeed we were having snowfall last night into this morning. I rolled over, grunting and huffing with the weight of my 39-week belly, and caressed my dear husband’s face in the pale blue light. He made a sweet sound and turned his body toward me, nuzzling his head into my arm. I kept petting his hair for a while, and the thought occurred to me that these are the last few days I’ll ever have him totally to myself, without our children demanding his or my attention. I got suddenly sweetly jealous, but the feeling was quickly overwhelmed by the warm sensation of total adoration for this man I have chosen to live my life with.

Without opening his eyes, he mumbles, “You know what’s the most reassuring thing to me?” “Hmm?” I mutter. “That you look at me the same way I look at you.”

Today we’ve had a most welcome snow day. Our dogs have had the time of their lives romping around in the perfect white 6 inches outside. We took them on a long walk, which left me rather embarrassingly winded, and hubs started working on a big luge track in our backyard hill. Unfortunately due to the snow being a total surprise and the roads not being treated, we’ll have to skip the Christmas Eve service at church and our annual tradition of hibachi dinner. 

Something tells me though, that God has a very sweet, significant evening and first Christmas Day away from home & family planned for us. His plans are always better than ours anyway. While we wait not-so-patiently for the arrival of our favorite Christmas present to join us, I know He will continue to fill these moments with glorious meaning, and that this will be a time in our lives we will never forget.

  

My Husband Doesn’t Post About Me on Social Media (and That’s Fine With Me)

We’ve all seen the posts. The sappy, romantic, love-letter-like, nearly obsessive social media posts that significant others put out there about each other. Sometimes the “Man-crush Mondays” and “Woman-crush Wednesdays” can be almost nauseating to scroll through each week, especially if that particular person seems to want to boast about their bae what seems like every day of the week.

Annoying as these over-posters may be, I have to admit… I have caught myself feeling jealous of the women whose beaus gush and ogle over them online for everyone to see. It’s a strange female urge, I think, to feel adored, loved, even boasted about. As a gender we tend to be more openly self-conscious than men, feeling that we need the men in our lives to provide us with the self-confidence and self-worth we desire. I can’t think of any girl who wouldn’t like a boy to post a flattering selfie of her to Instagram for #wcw. It’s like an insta-ego boost.

My husband and I have been together for over 6 years, dating back to my high school days. I can count on one hand how many times he has posted anything online that was specifically aimed to admire me as his girlfriend or wife, and I have never been anyone’s #wcw. He doesn’t comment on my photos telling me how “gorgeous” or “hot” I am to him, and I don’t get the “I love you too, baby’s” whenever I post something admiring him. We’re happily married, and very much in love. So why doesn’t he want to show me off to the cyber world?

Because he doesn’t have to.

My husband doesn’t need to tell his followers he loves me, because he just does. So he doesn’t say I’m his woman-crush Wednesday. Maybe instead, he lets me have the cinnamon roll with the most icing on it first. Or massages my back when I’m having a bad ache. Or vacuums up the dog hair so I don’t have to. Or gives me a kiss on the forehead when I keep him awake with my tossing and turning at night.

He doesn’t need to tell the world about his love for me, because he already does it with his actions. You know that old saying “actions speak louder than words?” It’s not a saying for no reason.

I finally realized, when it comes down to it, I would much rather have a surprise hug from behind than a boastful statement made about me on Facebook. I can easily do without him sharing that “Share if your wife is a hottie!” post, when he continues to be actively faithful in our marriage day by day.

When I was able to grasp that perspective, I realized the problem with feeling social media envy is my problem, not his. That desire to be boasted about online isn’t his responsibility to satiate, because at the end of the day, it’s just irrational envy. Based solely on my husband’s actions in our relationship, I should feel more than secure enough in myself and how he truly feels about me, without him having to broadcast it for the world to see. He put a ring on my finger. He promised before God and our families to be the best man he can be for me. He sacrifices himself daily for this country as a US Airman. What more should I feel bold enough to ask for?

So that got me thinking. All those times I sit around getting nostalgic or mushy feeling, and I have the urge to post yet another memory of us for Throwback Thursday, maybe instead I should show my love for my husband in a way that actually speaks to him. Maybe I whip up a batch of his favorite homemade cookies. Maybe I surprise him at the door after work with a big sexy make-out session. Maybe instead of posting that I’m so honored to be his wife, I actually tell him face to face.

Not only do I not need him to brag about me to others in a social media forum, he doesn’t need me to either. We can find security in the daily acts of service we make for our marriage, for each other. 

So when my husband inevitably shares that new Star Wars trailer for the third time this week, you won’t see me complain. Because I know he would rather see it in theaters on opening night with no one more than me 😉


P.S. I in no way mean to condemn or criticize everyone who posts about their significant others online. If such words of affirmation are his/her love language, I hope you are showering them with love in this way! However, as with any topic one could choose to post about online, I feel that when it becomes excessive (in frequency or content) it can be a little too much. 

Thanks for reading!

27w3d

We have a name!

Introducing our first daughter, Miss Adelaide River 🌻

So relieved to have finally chosen her name, and to be able to call her by it now. I had no idea we would struggle so hard to find a girl name we could agree on. They say you never know how many people you hated in life until you have to choose a name for your baby. Hubs seems to have something negative to say for just about every name in the book except Adelaide. Thankful, because this is actually a name we have adored since we first started dating in 2009. Now that it’s chosen, it’s so perfect. Couldn’t possibly be anything else.

  
We finally decided on the name while we were on a long vacation to our hometown in Knoxville. It was actually a fantastic trip, all the time we got to spend with our friends and family was just good quality time. 

   
    
 We spent 2 days for ourselves at our honeymoon hotel in Asheville, North Carolina for a short babymoon getaway. It was so worth it to just indulge ourselves (for the last time in a LONG time…) and just enjoy each other as husband and wife. It may have put us back a little financially, but I know it was worth it. We had such a good time.

   
 
   
The rest of our time in Knoxville was jam-packed. We had a friend’s graduation from cosmetology school, another friend’s wedding to photograph, maternity photo shoot for us, and my baby shower – which was very sweet!

  
We enjoyed loving and being loved on by the people who are most important to us, for this last visit before our lives change forever. Before who we are changes forever.

Some of the realities of parenthood are starting to hit me. Like how my husband tends to be quiet and distant whenever he is deprived of sleep, and worrying how our relationship will be affected by weeks/months of living like zombies with a newborn. Or how my body will cope with the trauma of labor, how it will look afterwards, how I may never look the same after this pregnancy. And the general feelings of inadequacy are creeping in… I’ve never changed a diaper in my life, and now I’ll have to do it like 10 times a day… That’s like 70 diapers a week… How are we going to afford this?!… How can I be a good dog mom when I will have to focus all my attention on a newborn?… How can I be a good wife?… Will my friends hate who I’ve become once I’m a mom?… Will they get annoyed with me when she is literally my whole day, start to finish?… Will I like myself, the person I’m about to become?

Trying as hard as I can to not just cast these thoughts aside, as I have for the past 6 months. These are real things I have to cope with, and it’s all becoming more real every day. With every new stretch mark on my growing belly, every pound of baby weight I put on, every new baby gift we receive, every Braxton-Hicks contraction I have (which are so weird by the way!), and every time I walk into her blossoming nursery. 

  
The feels.

Not a whole lot more to report right now. I’m officially in my third trimester, had my glucose test this morning, and I’m measuring right on track. Getting antsy to meet her. It’s gonna be a long 3 months!

I say as she kicks my ribs on both sides, somehow…