Oh yes, it has been one of those days. You stay-at-home moms know what I’m talking about. One of those days where I could put the kids in daycare and not look back while I go and find someone over the age of 7 to have a conversation with.
Here’s just a glimpse…
Brody has declined his afternoon nap, which means I have a cranky 17 month-old who laughs when you tell him that the trash can is not his toy box. So there I am, changing Chase, when he sticks his foot into the mess he’s created. Fantastic. But oh, I look up, and Brody has retrieved a dozen eggs off the kitchen counter and there is now raw egg dripping from my kitchen, through my dining room (over my new rug) and into my living room. So now I have a crying Brody, because let’s face it, mama yelled, a poopy chase, and a Layla (our dog) headed over to lick up all that raw egg germiness. At this moment, I would pay the army if Jason could just walk through the door a couple hours early. Where’s the white flag when you need it?
But you see, we’re down to our last couple of weeks. God, that’s hard to even type, let alone really process. But in a couple of weeks, there will be no reprieve for me. No one to tag-team the kids, or keep the Brodykins out of the dishwasher while I’m trying to load it. No one handle one crying baby while I soothe the other one. Nope, I’m flying this mission solo and I’m going to have to remind myself daily that my children are not my enemy. They are not trying to undo whatever household chore I just did… Really, it was just coincidence that I cleaned up the toy room to have them walk behind me and pull every last toy back down. Sigh.
So I seek routine.
Schedule Nazi. This is the term “lovingly” (or mockingly, I’m never quite sure) bestowed upon me by my mother during my oldest son’s first year, which coincided with my husband’s first deployment. I wear that title with pride. I love schedule. I adore routine. I revel in knowing what my day holds and exactly what I need to get done to make it happen for the kids. I love that bedtimes are set, that nap times are non-negotiable. This makes for a happy, rested mommy and well-adjusted kids. In my opinion, the kids are happier when they know what’s coming at them.
So as Jason was taking his last night flight, the boys and I were sitting around the dinner table. As usual there was a fight over who would get to say Grace, which always puts me into a rather doting mood. It’s adorable when Chase fights to say it. Once they settled into their pizza (come on, Jason wasn’t home and I was feeling lazy), we started to talk about daddy’s deployment. They’ve known for months that this was coming. Even our two-year old will tell you that daddy will be home right around when he turns four. They’re okay with it, or as okay as they can be. We talk about it because they have a right to know what’s going on. This is their life too.
But they are what makes this deployment so different. My children have always been little when Jason has gone to war. So it catches me off-guard when Aaron spits out, “I sure hope daddy doesn’t crash his helicopter and die,” just as if he’d hoped there wouldn’t be rain in the afternoon. So matter of fact. So very heart wrenching for me. Sometimes I wonder if he can see through my smile and reassurance that daddy is a terrific pilot. I promise. I pray.
Is it any wonder that I turn off the news when we lose a bird in theater?
So to make this adjustment easier, I’m seeking to give them a little bit of control over their insanely unfair little lives. It’s a simple question: What do you want for dinner? You’d never know it, but that little question empowered my little men to step up and act like a team. Suddenly, they were coordinating their favorite meals, and the days of the week they would go best with. They were talking about ordering pizza every Friday for “movie night,” and having BBQ Chicken on Sunday so that when we’re gone all day at Church and hockey, dinner will be cooking itself. It’s such a little thing to offer them, but for those few moments, they were in control. The deployment was a tangible thing that they could have some (if only a little) say over. Now, they’re volunteering to take the littles out to play when dad’s gone. They’re offering to sort laundry… not so sure I’ll take them up on that. But they recognize that we’re a team. I may lead it, but they are all necessary members. It will take all of us to keep this ship sailing.
I know this next year won’t be easy. I know that at times I won’t know what to tell them. I won’t know how to play with them like daddy. There are going to be times where I say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, and generally make mistakes. I’m sure there will be moments when I won’t be able to hide a break-down, and they will inevitably see some tears when I don’t wipe them away fast enough. But we’re a team, my little heathens and I. We’ll make it through this next year and we’ll come out stronger. Besides, the urges I have to run away screaming will cease once they’re in bed. They’re certainly cute when they sleep…