The Ms COOP Project

What is it and why you should care.

The “what” in “What is the Ms COOP Project”

Ms COOP is short for Military Spouse Co-op Project. The mission of the Ms COOP Project is to create an environment of support and encouragment of military spouses wanting to be more than a “dependapotomus”. Through the Ms COOP Project platform, a spouse can introduce their products to the public in a store setting while learning business and marketing skills that will be indispensable to their future. 

The “why” in “Why the Ms COOP Project?”

Military spouses face many challenges when it comes to having a career and balancing the family and personal demands they often endure because of their…..Lifestyle. It’s recently been noted that more spouses are underemployed or unemployed due to constant moves, different cultures, and family needs that often fall on the spouses shoulders than that of their civilian counterparts. This project is about support, leadership and community. In working together, people can acheive their dreams and improve their futures.

For more information, please go to our website ( http://www.mscoopproject.org )  or follow us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/MsCOOPproject

 

Wife Lessons 101 (Thank you Marine Corps)

As this 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corps comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the many lessons I’ve learned over the last 14 years.. In celebration of the many amazing Marines I’ve had the pleasure to know, the families they fight for and the countless experiences I’ve been given, I’ll do my best to share a few now.

Lesson 1. Never take a moment or a person for granted.
In the homes of many military families is a framed picture with the words “Live everyday like he deploys tomorrow.” It’s a beautiful sentiment. An idea that should be followed. However, this sentiment should not stop with your spouse.
There will be many lasts as you move through your years as a military spouse. Realistically, you will have more lasts with every other relationship in your life during your spouses career than your last day before a deployment(s) with your spouse.
You’ll have last days with your “real” family (the ones you share blood with) as you say goodbye to be with your spouse. You’ll have last days with the friends you grew up with, and last days in your home town.
Only to turn around 2 to 3 years later and have last days with your family (the ones you made at your duty station) Last days with your friends, and last days in your newest home.
Savor every day and every encounter like you will leave tomorrow.

2. NEVER miss an opportunity to learn something. 

No. I’m not talking about learning everything you can about the branch your spouse serves in. While that’s all moto-awesome, expand beyond your spouses service. Take every opportunity given to grow as an individual. Do not become “just” a military spouse or a mom. Take cooking classes, join clubs. Finish your degree. Then start another one.

And remember, you’re lucky to have the opportunity to travel the world every few years thanks to the military orders your family is assigned, (like how I twisted the words “military orders” into something positive? Hee hee!) GET OUT THERE. Experience the culture you’re surrounded by. Eat the food. Learn the language. Learn the history.

Ya know what’s worse than being “stuck in some s^&$ hole thanks to military orders? Leaving that s%^& hole and hearing people talk about the things they seen and did while they were there. “Scuba diving in Pensacola?! Whaaaaaaat?!” Yeah. You missed it because you were to busy locked away in your one bedroom apartment calling everyone you know- in other time zones- to tell them how miserable you are. That’s dumb. Don’t be dumb.

GET OUT THERE.

Lesson 3. Take LOTS of pictures. 

Seriously. Take. Lots. Of. Pictures. And when you think you’ve taken too many, reload that camera and take some more.

When will you ever see that place again? Or those faces? Your spouse will never look the way he does right now. Your friends will move away. Your kids will grow. Capture every moment while you can.

Lesson 4. Celebrate.

Celebrate. Celebrate. Celebrate everything. -and then take pictures!- Kid 1 got every word on his spelling test right? PARTY! Your friend got a new job? Let her know you’re proud of her and do something fun.

Go to the hail and farewells. Go to the unit holiday parties. Go to the Balls. Your time with these people is small. Your reasons to celebrate are limited. Make reasons of your own.

In your life as a military spouse you will see darkness. You will know horror and fear. You will know loss and pain. These “stupid little gatherings” could be the only thing that pull you through. Create them. Create them often.

Lesson 5. Put yourself out there.

Ok, it’s not always easy to make friends. Especially when you know you’ll have to say goodbye to them sooner then later. Do it anyway. Ya know what’s worse than saying goodbye to someone you care about? Not having someone to say hello to.

Lesson 6. Always have cookie dough and crock pot meals in the freezer.

Ya never know when a family in your spouses unit will have a “life situation” that a good meal or some “I’m thinking of you” cookies can help. As spouses we endure having babies, broken bones, illnesses and so much more. And  many times we will be asked to brave these things thousands of miles from our family and often our spouse. That frozen meal and your stopping in to check on them could be the one thing that pushes a “sister wife” forward. Reminding them they are not alone and are strong enough to keep going.

Besides, if you somehow find yourself surrounded by families that never need a helping hand, you have dinner and dessert for the days YOU don’t think you can get through. It’s a win-win.

Lesson 7. Share your stories and experiences. Good. Bad. And ugly.

And not just with your new friends. Share them with your family through social media. Too often we move away and lose touch with our BFF’s, cousins, aunts and uncles. Next thing you know you’re home for Christmas, surrounded by people you’ve known your entire life and you feel like an outcast. You’re lucky if they remember where you live, yet alone where you work or any interests you may have developed since the last time you seen them. This is lonely. And awkward.

Thanks to social media you don’t have to experience this anymore. Tell your stories. Share your pictures. Let them celebrate with you, or share in your bad day. Reach out to them. And ALWAYS return the favor. Let them know you’re happy for them when they have something to celebrate. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Encourage them.

Share your lives. You’ll be glad you did on your next visit home.

Lesson 8. Make traditions.

Especially if you’re raising “military brats”. They may never know what it’s like to celebrate 4th of July with BBQs with their cousins. Or witness a Christmas Pageant at the church they’ve gone to since the day they were created. Find a way to make this up to them. Give them traditions.

On the off chance you made it through the military life without children, make traditions anyway. Everyone needs a feeling of home that can only be created through traditions.

Lesson 9. Listen to your predecessors.  

Sure, you may think you have nothing in common with the 70 year old woman going on and on about how easy you have it thanks to computers. -After all you can talk to your deployed spouse often thanks to technology. Hell, you can even see them! *Gasp!*

While it might seem worthless to listen to that woman rattle on and on about how hard it was to wash her clothes in the kitchen sink because the luxury of washing machines wasn’t a birth rite in her time, you’ll be grateful for her recollections when you discover TMO “lost” your washing machine. She is wise. Listen to her. Learn from her. Appreciate her.

Lastly, Lesson 9. NEVER miss the opportunity to tell someone they’re wonderful. 

Whether it’s your best friend or some random person on the corner. If you are gifted the opportunity to compliment them for their awesomeness-whatever it may be- do it. It will make their day, and yours. Try it. You’ll see :)

This one time…In the car….

A road trip story.

Being that we had a lot of places to see last week, we spent a lot of time on the road to and from our sights. To kill this time the 4 of us would play the “What’s the song? Who sings it?” game. Each of us taking our turn picking a song on my iPhone, the others trying to figure out who sings it, then jamming to the music.

It’s a great way to kill the time.

Music to me has always been a form of self-expression. Stories and thoughts performed in (for me anyway) the most personal and self-exposing form.  It can make me laugh or strip me raw of every emotion I bottle up inside. For that reason, the difference between my favorite music and The Mr.’s favorite music is baffling to me.

He’s a Led Zeplin, Beatles, AC/DC fanatic. I am a Skillet, Theory of a Deadman, Sara Barrellis, The Fray and Shinedown  kindda girl. (yes, Glee   remakes too :))

Shuffling through “our” music can be interesting. It’s more common to find one jamming out, and the other listening quietly. –there’s no irritation that the others music is on, it’s just obvious who likes each band.

Annnnnndddddd…..That’s how our hours in the car were spent

At least till “Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down came on. With The Mr. sitting next to me, singing along I caught a glimpse of every emotion we fought for survival to during his deployments. Every imaginary conversation we had with the other. Every missed holiday. Every memory unshared.  Every laugh. Every tear that dropped.

I saw everything.

The return of his last deployment was almost 3 years ago and I still shake when I’m forced to (and I mean forced. I don’t look back at those 5 deployments from 04-09 on my own free will) recall a story from a time he wasn’t there.

I’ve read stories where there’s a description of the characters heart being pulled, or they realize something and it takes their very breath away. Without these intentionally left behind memories, those words would never have meaning. They’re just words in some random book, there to fill up the space on the pages/

But force me to remember something that happened during a deployment though…..I swear I can actually feel my heart spread out across my chest.

Picture pancake batter poured into a pan. It spreads across the pan, flattens and then hardens.

Yup. That’s what it feels like.

I’m fairly certain during those times my heart isn’t even  in my chest, but dripping below my ribcage. And I can’t breathe. Not like the “I ran to fast and can’t catch my breath” type of gasping for air, but like my chest is already full and I can’t get air in. My lungs fill 3 times bigger than normal and nothing quiets the throbbing of my heart in my ears.

For all of these reasons, I don’t think about those years.

For all those reasons, that song was on the “crying list” If you don’t have one, let me explain what that is….Life gets crazy. People get busy. Things happen. Good. Bad. And Ugly.  Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to process them right away, so you do what you can, then set the rest aside.  A common side effect of this is that a day comes when you need to dump the bricks that have built in your chest but you just can’t. The words and tears don’t come.

That’s what the crying list is for.  Find the songs that make you cry and push repeat till you can’t cry anymore. It’s a survival technique.

It sounds morbid and depressing, but it’s not meant to be. I found it to be the most healing in all the chaos of those years. There are very few people that understand the emotional crap (yup I said crap) that comes with a deployment. There are even fewer that can be trusted with your crap and can help carry the weight when it needs to be dropped. Often times, the “crying list” is the best remedy.

So there I was. Listening to one of the songs that at one time had been key to my survival but was now just a memory I preferred to ignore and I was making a new memory. A memory with The Mr. sitting beside me.

Sometimes  things just happen that way. When they do, it’s fantastic.

Thank you Candy Crush

This one time in psychology class- or maybe it was a writing class? Weird that I can’t remember now!- Anyway, this one time in A class, we were told to write for five minutes. No stopping. No thinking. Just write until the timer went off.

It’s been 2 very long months since I’ve written, and it seems with each passing day, the writing block seems to get bigger and bigger. To avoid like total blockage, I’m going to attempt this class lesson once more.

This should be interesting….

Without further ado, I give you my brain. Uncensored. For five. Whole. Minutes.

Ready? Here we go :)

So if you just pictured me like jumping from one screen to another all frantic n shit to get the timer started, you were spot on.

YAY YOU!

Yep. This is me. Open. And free. Ok not so much. Today I was actually thinking about writing something along the lines of “Dear Kids, sometimes it sucks to be your mom”. Dude. That looks horrible all out there on my screen right now. But I DID think it. I wanted to follow it up with stories from the trenches of mom-dum ya know? Like, maybe chasing the 1 year old down the street in heels because she got free from my hand and those stupid shoes were NOT actually meant to be worn by  moms.

Or maybe I’d include the awesome times I’ve gone in public with goo all over me…OH! I once sat in an ER with my oldest munchkin for EIGHT long hours. Covered in vomit because she’d puked down my back (again). I was finally allowed to change when they admitted her into the hospital and put me in a pair of scrubs and sat with her so they could wash my clothes. That makes me wonder…How stinky does one have to be to have the hospital staff offer to wash your clothes?

Well whatever that level if stinky that is, I reached it that day!

What else would I include in my “Dear Kids” Letter?

How about how crappy I feel when I’m forced to stand over the kids while they do their chores. Or their homework. Or get on the internet. Or when they…. Dude. WHEN DID I BECOME A  FRICKIN DICTATOR?! This shit sucks.

I would of course end it with some sweet silly nothings just to remind them I still love them and that I don’t realllllly mean it. But yeah. Other than that, I’ve got nothing. Not a thing I can think of to write ab-

Times up. YAY! Look at that. I wrote something. And now I have some mojo back.. Hmmmmm I wonder what I can get into now that I’m over that hump.

Should we try it? Ok. Here we go.

So, yes. It has in fact been 2 months since I’ve written. That seems so long! But it went by so fast!

I wish I could say I was out solving world hunger. Or creating some great masterpiece. Hell, I’d even setter for  wearing  the title of “mom” as an excuse if I could!

In my defense, I did start a new job, (which I love btw) and am all but 4 weeks done with the first of -hopefully- many degree programs I’m hoping to complete in the next 5 years. HEY!! I just realized I have a sliver of a 5 year plan!!

Holy canoli rocky! I CAN  think like a grown up sometimes! SCORE!

Don’t forget to add in the zoo I call home as a total time sucker. 3 kids and 1 “Mr.” are more than enough busy for many people!

So I wouldn’t be…Completely lying when I said life has been crazy in here lately. But it wouldn’t be completely honest either.

Where has my spare time gone the last 2 months?

I discovered Candy Crush.

The first-I dunno- hundred or so boards were filled with love and excitement. Now I loathe it with a deep hatred and disgust only a true addict can understand. And despite that loathing, I still find myself playing a game (or 8) every night before bed.

I will say this though. Candy Crush has taught me some valuable life lessons over the last 2 months. Like;

- I don’t always see the big picture. In candy crush terms, this means I only look at a few rows at a time and don’t really set up my board for the next big move. But, if I’m going all philosophical and junk,  it says  I don’t always see past the little things to the ones that will make a huge difference in my life. I should probably work on that.

- I also learned  can still pull off an all nighter. Boy did I ever too! And more than once!-that was a shock to me! I totally thought I was too old for that ball of crazy!- And by golly, if I can pull off an all nighter for some lame a$$ game, I can give 10 more minutes to the project I’m working on, or to make one “last call” to someone that matters just to let them know how much.

- Thanks to Candy Crush, I also now know that I have what my psychology professor would have referred to as an “addictive personality” and once I’m hooked on something, there’s no room in my life for anything else. For anyone who wants to argue with me about with draw symptoms of candy crush I ask this; Have you ever dreamed in crush mode? Or seen little candy pieces blowing up as you tried to grocery shop? Kicking this habit is no easy feat. (I’m partly teasing- but I’ll never admit to which part :0)

-I also understand paranoia now. And probably hallucinations too. Yes, I may be “crush sober” at this time, but I’m still convinced there’s a man living on the other side of my phone watching my every game move and changing the pieces of the game when I blink to make sure I only win when he decides it’s time. He also listens to my conversations and sends me advertisements for random crap I was just talking about with my friends-and not on my phone. People  I was talking to face to face.

……Effin cheaters.How you gonna change up my candy pieces so I can’t win the board?! That’s not fair!

With that, I would like to say “Thanks Candy Crush” :)

(and good night. )

-

Failures

 

(side note, this is a reedit. Changes at the end)

As a parent, you’re destined to have at least one. If you’re being honest with yourself, there’s likely a half dozen or more moments in time you can recall without any effort that make you say to yourself “WHHHHHOOOOOO does that?!”

Yep. It was, tired, overworked, underpaid highly contagious me that accidentally gave Kid #1 a dose of concentrated Tylenol in the dosage amount given for its nonconcentrated counterpart. A mistake I did not pick up on until Kid 1 (who was 6 months old at the time and had been screaming for 3 hours nonstop) just laid her head down and went to sleep. As I stared at my peaceful 6 month old sprawled out over her swing, snoring soundly, the “mom voice” in the back of my head- you know the one. She screams at you into the wee hours of the morning questioning your every move, and has the ability to keep all mothers up at night rethinking every decision we made that day, wondering if our choice to feed the spawn frozen waffles for breakfast is what caused them to write their letter “D” backwards- suddenly shook me from my peaceful fog with a simple question.

“How much did you give her?!” That was quickly answered with a resounding “Too much! Too much!”  (yes, I called poison  control. Apparently, this is a common mistake and as long as it’s the only amount you gave them, and you just don’t give them anymore for 24-36 hours, they’ll -usually- be fine.)

I’m also the parent that shouted “Put the beads and the Dolphin down!”  Upon discovering my (then) 2 and 3 year old had gotten into my Passion Parties Consultant Kit.

When they were 4 and I began swatting their cute little tushes for disciplinary reasons I would refer to the act of spankings as “a beating”. (as in “Step off that curb one more time I will beat you” or “Do you need a beating?”) Which worked great for me….Till we were in a checkout line at the grocery store and they tipped my ENTIRE cart onto the floor, then looked at me terrified, wrapped their entire bodies around my legs,and clinging tightly sobbed “PLEASE MOMMY! DON’T BEAT ME!”

Not to be outdone, one year later, when they were just the right height to head butt me in the crotch and  I got the GENIUS idea to tell them with “Once you come out of there, you can’t go back in!” Suddenly, they had a new game to play. It went like this;

*slamming their head into my crotch” I’m going back in Mommy!” *head slam. Laughter. Repeat*

So much entertainment came from this! Till the day the 3 of us were in a crowded restaurant and they lifted my full length sun dress, exposed my barely covered thong rear end and slammed their head into my crotch and shouted “I’m going back in Mommy!” as the flower print fabric draped over them. Loud enough for all to hear.

Epic Parent Failures come in all shapes and sizes. And usually sneak up on me when I least expect it.

Once, during a deployment, The Mr. convinced me there was no need to take our son (aka Kid #2) to a salon for a haircut “Why waste the money?  There’s a perfectly good pair of clippers in our bathroom. Just cut it yourself.”  He said.

After days of “You can’t get it wrong, there’s a guard on the clippers. Just cut his hair. It’ll be fine!” I decided to attempt his request. And it was fine. At  first.

In fact, everything was going great with the hair cut on my son till my electric clippers died on me. It was the kind that needed to be charged before use. (Something The Mr. did not share with me beforehand.) About half way thru Kid #2s hair cut (which was looking fantastic by the way) the clippers just stopped working.

Since we didn’t have to go anywhere for the rest of the day, my internal panic alarm did not go off. The cut was looking good, I was feeling confident. The sides were trimmed and even, and I only had the top and a small patch in the back left. So I just plugged the clippers in and told the boy we’d finish his hair cut in an hour. We went back to playing games till it was time.

When the clippers were charged, we started again. Laughing and singing as I brought the clippers to the nape of his neck. Excited about how his hair was coming along. Unfortunately, being new to the whole “use the clippers” thing, I didn’t spot the missing guard that had been on during our first session. When I put the clippers to his head this time, hair came off all the way to the scalp.

I panicked. He cried. We asked “What would Daddy do?” and decided that giving him a high and tight was the answer. With excitement, we began to cut his hair so “he would look just like daddy! YAY!”  With great finesse, I began to shave his head the way I’d seen The Mr do so many times before. Pivoting the clippers just right at the curve near the top of the skull to produce a “fade” look.

The back was done. Kid #2 had dried up his tears and I was feeling confident again.

Till we hit a spot on the side of his head, right above his ear. Just as I was beginning to “pivot” that clippers near the top, Little Man spun his head to the right, causing the clippers to mow a bald patch right through the top of his head.

“Mommmmmmmmmmyyyyy!” He wailed. “Put it back! PUT MY HAIR BACK!”

“I can’t baby.” I whispered teary eyed, with my head hanging low.” We have to shave your head.”

When I completed the task of shaving my son bald, he asked to take a bath. Which I catered to. Kid #2 sat in the tub for three long hours, just staring at the tile surrounding him, shuffling bubbles from side to side until they were no more. Sniffling in silence.

“Hey buddy.” I said to him at the 3 hour mark beginning to worry about his wrinkled skin. “You ready to get out now? The water is ice cold”

“Leave me alone Mommy. I. Had. A. Hard. Day.”

Yep. Failures. They happen in life. As a parent, mistakes happen often. And that’s ok. It’s what you do after that really matters. The key to survival is what you do next. Here are some suggestions.

First and foremost, laugh at yourself. Laugh hard. And laugh often. Parenting is a messy business. Whether you’re cleaning up feces, or fishing a action figure out of a backed up toilette, the story behind the mess is always a good one. So laugh at it.

Take time to enjoy the little things. Your child will only want to experience things with you for so long. Take advantage of that. Go star gazing. Build a fort. Sing. Dance. Make faces at each other. And when you’re done, let them know how grateful you are to have had that moment with them by saying thank you.

Realize your life isn’t your own anymore and accommodate to that. It will take an extra 20 minutes to get to the car. You will have to stop hustling through a store to tie a shoe. You will leaqve yuour house some mornings wondering if you brushed your teeth. Set your clock a few minutes ahead, and always carry gum.

Forgive yourself. Yes, in the chaos of chasing those beautiful babies around this morning you broke a coffee mug or forgot to turn the dryer on. There isn’t a mistake you can make that can’t be undone. You aren’t damaging your kids with these minor mistakes, (no matter how convinced you are that their lives are destroyed because you forgot to pack their lunch this morning) The truth of the matter is, the only one being damaged when you dwell on the bad is you. Let things go.

Grow with your children. As much as I love to tell my kids “I need a minute to figure this out, I must’ve skipped this chapter in the parenting handbook” they know just as well as I do, there is no handbook. You’re learning about life together. Make every lesson a lesson that makes you a better person.

Most importantly, make the words most often heard in your home be “I love you”

These are my suggestions for parenting. What are yours?

Mama Raised A Serial Killer

I am a photo taking whore. If it’s happening, I am taking pictures. That’s just the way I am. While I would love to say it’s because I’m artistic, I’m not. Like not even a little bit. Taking pictures is just my way of showing the world the way I see things. And since I’m being honest here, I might as well confess, my vision of things isn’t normal.

So, when I stumbled across a “Photo A Day Challenge” on FaceBook I was all “OOOOOOOOOO at last! A purpose that isn’t just me taking pictures to take pictures!” and I started taking pictures. I’ve been doing the challenge since January. Some days are harder than others, but for the most part, it’s really, really fun.

This week one of my picture challenges was to get a picture of my favorite word. This one took me a few days longer than I expected. I really had to think about this one! I stumbled a few times trying to really find the word that represented me. A word that stuck out, made me feel good and screamed to the world “THIS IS ME!” Then I realized it wasn’t asking for the word that screamed “this is me”, it was asking what word I use the most.

I set off looking around the house for a word that I used often enough to be claimed as my favorite word. That’s when it hit me. The 2 words most often used in our house are “Love” -and not in like that stupid overly done way where you’re like “Oh my gosh I LOOOOOOVVVE this pizza”, but in the real, heartfelt way. “I love you”

“No. I love you”

“Well I love you more.”

“Nope. I love you more”

“Well I love you thiiiiiiiiiiiis much” (stretching their arms out as far as they can go) “Which is A LOT, cuz I’m this tall”

Yes. Love is a word used at least 20 times a day in our home. It just barely misses the #1 word slot for words used by me the most by like I dunno….3?  The other word used often and on a daily basis is “Fuck”- and not like “I just saw them fucking” but like “What the FUCK were you thinking?!”

That. Hardly. Seems. Appropriate to announce in front of all of my family and friends. Seriously, I’m pretty sure my Grandma would cry if I proclaimed to all of the interweb that my favorite word in the world is Fuck. (Sorry Grandma)

Besides, the word “Fuck” is not in written format on anything in my home. I checked.-even dug through some books!- It’s not there.Which is weird. But expected I suppose. ****note to self, make a piece of wall art with the word Fuck in it.****

So I announced to the interweb my favorite word, the word most often used in my home is Love.

I wasn’t lying. I just wasn’t telling the whole truth. Which got me thinking about Motherhood and all it’s glory. Why? Well, I suppose partly because Mothers Day is around the corner. But  if we’re being brutally honest, that’s all Motherhood really is. A bunch of half truths told to save face in the eyes of others because we’re all secretly pretty sure if anyone actually knew what was going on behind closed doors, they’d have us committed.

I have this theory that moms don’t admit their “dark and twisty” to anyone who isn’t indicted in the “Mom Club”. Once you get pregnant though, don’t you dare get caught in an elevator alone with an overtired mom reeling from her day. Or sit down at a table of experienced moms at a birthday party. Or go to dinner alone with your lifelong best friend who happens to also be a mom. The things that come from those conversations will leave you looking for a scrub brush for your ears.

And your brain. Who am I kidding? When the mom club shares with you the horror that is your future, you’ll want to scrub your whole body to get rid of those stories.

I’m pretty sure the reason no one hears the horror stories before they have children is because if they knew what really happens when you become a parent, people would opt not to breed. Game Over. The world would end. So instead of ending the world as we know it, women follow “Unspoken Rule # 367″ in the “Woman Code Book”

That rule is “Don’t talk about poo, blood, puke or how many nights you stayed up crying because you were certain that because the reason your kid had a bad day at school is because you didn’t kiss them goodbye before they left. And now they’re going to fail 3rd grade, drop out of high school and hitchhike across the country on a killing spree unless you’re in the company of other moms.”

The only exception is pregnant women. Because, well…..It’s too late. They can’t take it back now. Might as well share the horror!-er I mean fun.

Someone out there is reading this right now and thinking “HA! That’s not true! Parenthood is the most wonderful experience a person could ever have! It’s all rainbows and butterflies and shit.”

To that person, I say…… You’re probably the one that actually WILL raise the serial killer. Way to go champ!

The truth of it all is though, that in spite of the long nights camped out in an ER covered in your childs vomit. The irreplaceable remnants of your life that were once displayed and are now missing pieces or flat out broken, or the long nights sitting beside them in a steam filled bathroom praying for their fever to break. Even when you’re missing your special date nights and moments of interacting with other adults, the whole mom thing….It’s pretty freakin amazing.

And NO ONE is doing it right.

Espirit de Corps

Today! -hang on a minute, I need to clear my throat.

*ahem*

TOdaaaay.-whew!!! So much better!!

I would like to call out every movie, every book and every tv show that has ever made loving an active duty service member look like some sort of beautiful, romantic, fairytale. And the tag chasers that fell for that silliness.

Are. You. Freaking. Kidding me?!

Loving a service member isn’t romantic. Or fun. There are no break out into song moments. -trust me, I’ve pleaded with my guy friends while they were picking songs at a karaoke bar to sing “you’ve lost that lovin feelin” at least a dozen times. It doesn’t happen. Now ask them to sing “1 bourbon, 1 scotch n 1 beer” and you’re golden. But that’s a whole nother story.- there are no moments in which a service member in uniform lifts a woman up and carries her into the sunset. -as I sit here typing that, I’m trying to recall a time I’ve ever requested it. It seems weird to me that I haven’t. Maybe my mature brain has rationalized that since I can’t hold my husbands hand while he’s in uniform, I shouldn’t ask to be carried…But I’m not the rational type so that seems silly.-anyway, where were we? ah yes.-Loving a service member. It’s not romantic love letters and phone calls filling your ear with sweet nothings.

Hell no.

It’s years of weird, awkward porno phone conversations, (Seriously. Try telling your special someone how hot and bothered you are while wiping your 2 year olds butt or baking cookies) It’s “creative” emails with secret language and fun filled pictures that change how you look at everything in your surroundings. It’s having to maintain your “bubble” personal space with everyone -down to your mother people-because you haven’t been touched by a person for so long there’s no telling what kindof response your body would have from just a simple hug.

It’s running from the table at Thanksgiving Dinner with your in laws when someone says “thank you for allowing us all to be together on such a wonderful day” to avoid screaming at the top of your lungs “WE’RE NOT ALL HERE! CAN’T YOU SEE THE HOLE?” It’s making Holiday Traditions your spouse may never know. It’s building relationships with your special someones family and friends not as you, but as them.( picture yourself spending hours picking the right birthday card for your mom in law to sign from them and only them. It’s like being Santa to EVERYONE in your family. All these amazing things happen thanks to your thought and care, but everyone thinks it’s someone else.

It’s bedtime stories that end with “Sweet dreams. Daddy loves you” to your children. Followed by long conversations about your day that only your bedroom walls will hear, because when they do finally call there’s so much to say you can’t say anything.

It’s exhausting. Sleeping with a phone in your hand and your computer in your lap with one eye open. Yeah….That’s exhausting

And it’s stinky. -No. I mean it. It smells. Bad. Seriously. Have you ever smelled a pair of socks that can stand up on their own thanks to a 20 mile hike in 110 degree weather? That shit ain’t right!

Loving a service member means that from the moment you promise forever, your life is no longer your own. You will be torn from everything you know and thrust into a life that you no longer have a say in. Where you live, how you spend your time, how you dress will be dictated all in the name of morale and leadership. It means feeling like an outcast when surrounded by people you’ve known your entire life but feeling at home with strangers simply because the strangers speak “military”

It means fighting the urge to punch some ungrateful bitch when she complains because her husband didn’t take out the garbage that morning when they left for work, and holding your friends hand as they deliver their first born son because daddy left for Afghanistan a day to early to be there for the birth. It’s being strong enough to deliver that baby by yourself because while your husband was gone, your family is 2000 miles away and any near by friends couldn’t be there that one time.

It’s realizing the most important person in the world to you has somehow, through distance and time become just words on a computer screen or ink on a piece of paper. While their words keep you moving forward, you’ve come to realize the person behind them is barely a memory.

It’s going to bed at night and praying to God, that if your person is to leave your side someday, he take them now, while they are only words on a screen or ink on a piece of paper. Because to hold them once again, and lose them forever is far worse than the idea of losing the person behind the computer screen you’re struggling to remember

Loving an Active Duty Service member is not romantic. Or fun. It’s not even cute. Certainly not something to do to yourself on purpose.

It’s painful.It’s hard. It’s lonely.

But there’s a sense of pride in it that won’t be found anywhere else. A love and loyalty that only the few that survive the pain and loneliness will ever know. And that is beautiful.