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. )

Somebody Pissed in My Apple Juice

Yesterday, while I was folding laundry, “The Mr” pranced into our family room obviously excited about something. Without a word he scooped my hand into his and pulled me up from the couch. As we began our walk towards the front door I became curious as to what was making him so happy.

“Where are we going” I asked, his obvious excitement creeping in

“Shhhhh” he hissed. Turning into our darkened den just off the entryway to our home.

“OH MY GOSH!” I exclaimed ” Are we going into the den to make out like teenagers?!”

He dropped my hand, his excitement seeming to drain for a second before he pointed into the glass home that contained one of our tortoises. “Frank is eeeeeeeeaating.” He whispered. “Frank the Tank” is the youngest of our two tortoises.” I know how much you love to watch Frank eat. LOOK!” he cried.

The Mr. was right. The very simple act of watching Frank the Tank eat does in fact make me smile. This episode was not a let down. However, as I sat there smiling like a dope watching Frank open his tiny toothless mouth to devour that large,red, delicious apple a dark thought crept into my mind. I could not remember the last time I’d made out “like a high school kid” with my husband.

How is that even possible?! I’m not talking about those “can I rub your back” make out sessions done just before bed. (we all know where that leads….) I’m talking about like, no kidding, heart racing, hands flailing,lip numbing, don’t come up for air till your face is purple, kind of make out sessions. The ones that fill you with a rush of youthfulness that even I must admit has long since passed.

Suddenly, I was looking at The Mr. like he was a slab of meat for the taking. Eyebrows arched, head cocked to the right, full on stare down as I contemplated my next move. Turning to face him, I dragged my hand across his chest, stopping just at his heart. I began to push him gently to the sofa.

“What’s up babe?” he asked naively.

“Shhhhh.I’m being sexy” I whispered shoving him onto the sofa and straddling his lap ,kissing him deeply. My kisses were met eagerly, our worry about being caught by our children slowly subsiding as we began to enjoy each other in this rare episode of spontaneity.

Just as we began to relax and fall into the roles of “high school kids making out” reality walked into the room and flipped on the light. “Mom? Mom. What’s the password iTunes? WHAT are you doing?!” Shrieked my oldest.

“I’m making out with your dad” I replied not taking my eyes off of my prey. “Turn the light off and leave this room now.”

I wasted no time picking up where we had left off. Cupping his face in my hands and bearing my weight down for balance.

“Mooooooooooooom?” I heard. This time from Baby #2.(aka the son) “I can’t find dad. I need him to get me a tool from the garage.”

“He’s trapped underneath me. Getting smothered with kisses” I answered.

“Ew. Why would he be doing that?”

“Because, damn it. I”m trying to be sexy” I mumbled. All enjoyment seeping out of me like a squeezed balloon.

That was that. My moment was gone.Any hope of capturing a glimpse at my youthful, perky self had depleted.That’s when I began to miss my younger self. The vibrant, smart and witty, never afraid to put on her bikini self. I wanted to find her and punch her in the face for ever taking her time, body and energy for granted.

If someone had told me not to take my youth for granted, to spend more time on me and not to rush into adulthood I would’ve laughed at them. Youthful arrogance will get ya every time…..