Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Mailbag, Part II

I just finished my treadmilling in the bowels of the earth basement, and I am now comfily ensconced on the bed with Rob's laptop. You know, I used to scoff at the concept of a laptop with a wireless connection, but more and more I'm beginning to be convinced of its merits. I hope Rob doesn't want this back. It's not like it's issued to him from work or anything.

While I was putting in my sweat equity, I was watching Pride and Prejudice (Colin! Colin!) and trying not to swoon right off the treadmill. I can't help it; every time I watch it, I do the same thing. I get upset when Darcy and Lizzy are initially nasty to each other, and then, when they start throwing each other smoldering glances, I start to bite my lower lip and geek out at all the romance. I'm hopeless.

Anyway, enough about me. Let's talk about me, and answer some more questions, shall we? Fun!

Stephanie asks: What do you feel your most shining moment as a mom has been? I won't make you share your worst.

Bless you for not making me share the worst, although some may argue that this blog documents them. I hope that there are some good moments caught in the mix.

This question was harder to answer than I thought, only because my nature is so self-deprecating that I instinctively seem to shy away from naming the better parts of myself. I am excellent with the faults, to a fault, but I'm stingy with the praise in the old inner monologue.

I would say that my best "shining moment" (besides, you know, pushing them out of my own body) was when Rob was called up to active duty with the Navy Reserves and left us for nine months.

Rob and I spent the first eight years of our marriage as an active duty Navy family. It was a good life, but when the opportunity came with the perfect job to go civilian, we decided that we would take that path. Rob and I have always been very proud of his military service, so when we moved he decided to stay in the reserves.

We had been living the civilian life for a little more than a year when Rob got a phone call on the day before Thanksgiving. He was told that he was being called up to active duty, and that he would be gone by December 15. He would be gone for a year. Crap.

Once all the details came out, we were relieved to know that he would be going down to Pensacola, Florida for the year to fill in for the docs who had gone to Iraq. We had about two and a half weeks to get ourselves ready for his departure, which is more than many military families get, but it still felt like I was racing the hourglass.

All the sand ran out when he pulled out of the driveway on the fifteenth and I was left with Francie and Fiver. We spent the next six months without seeing Rob at all, even though he was still in the US. The problem was that we couldn't afford to go see him. The hospital held his job for him, but didn't pay us a penny until he came back to work. We went back to our Navy pay, which was great when we lived on a military base or got a housing allowance, but not so great when we had a mortgage that was calculated on Rob's civilian salary. We lost more than a third of our income.

All of a sudden, I was in charge of every.single.thing. Of course I talked everything over with Rob each night (and boy were those phone calls a blessing!), but the reality of any plans fell to me. I held my breath while I balanced the checkbook, I drained the savings account, and I racked up some impressive credit card bills.

Through it all, I just kept going with the daily routine of life with kids. We leaned on our families quite a bit, but at the end of each day it came down to the three of us. We clung to each other. Francie slipped silently into my bed every night because she "didn't want me to sleep alone." Even though Rob's absence was like a hole in my chest, my kids needed me to pull it together. And in needing me, they saved me from drowning in loneliness and self-pity.

When summer came and Francie was finished with school, we got the chance to go visit Rob. Friends of ours generously offered to let us use their home in Pensacola since they would be away for the summer (no hotel to pay!). We couldn't afford plane tickets or a rental car, so I drove the kids down to Florida myself.

We were so desperate to see Rob that I didn't even think twice about a trip that I would have sworn only a crazy person would make. I packed up the van and the kids and started driving, alone, down the eastern seaboard. We were running on the grace of God at that point.

Long story long, we made it, Rob got to come home three months early, and that whole time is now just a distant memory. In fact, Fiver has no recollection of it at all. And as an added bonus, guess who was born nine months and one week after Rob got back? (Give me an "S" . . .)

I have no desire to be a single parent, but there is always the knowledge, tucked away in the deepest recesses of my mind, that I can do it because I have done it.

There you have it, my shining moment, and I'll never ask for another like it. (Although I wouldn't mind some other kind of shining moment. Like when I win Mother of the Year. In my dreams.)

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. You are definitely amazing! That would have been really really rough! You deserve the Awesome Mommy Award! Thanks for answering my question =)

    Stephanie

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  3. You deserve the Mother AND Wife of the Year award for that shining moment! I always admired Rob for serving and you for allowing him to do so. My gratitude goes out to both of you.

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  4. That definitely is a shining moment and reason for some sort of monumental award. I have trouble getting through a couple days without my Beloved. I can't imagine 9 months.

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  5. I was in Pensacola for a few months, way back, for training school. Pretty place.

    We were active duty Navy for 8 or 9 years, too; and then Reserves, then mobilized...only, for us, the mobilization boosted our income, thank goodness - we were struggling up to that point.

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  6. Anonymous9:32 PM

    And as one friend of many who was there in person while you endured that year, hats off! You did do an amazing job of it! I was always so impressed at how well you handled it all! Amazing to think now that it is now simply a memory...
    diana

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Go ahead and say it. You know you want to.