Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Paths Less Traveled

In case you are just now tuning in, I have quite the extensive list of new year's resolutions I'm working on...some are going much MUCH better than others. Anyway, one of my end-of-the-year goals is to enter a distance run (hoping for a half marathon, but that is yet to be determined at this point.) In keeping with that, I have been scheduling a lot more running into my weekdays.
I've been big into running since high school, falling on and off the wagon between trying college semesters and baby rearing, respectively. But most of the running I've done in the past has been for leisure. Of course, there were fitness goals intermixed, but for the most part I just enjoyed a chance to hear my feet hit the pavement, clear my head, and get a little lost in my own thoughts. I never really mapped out my routes or tracked my times. I just laced up my sneakers and went where the paths looked the most inviting.
That has changed a bit now. I usually throw my kids in childcare to head to the gym, and I am very aware of the amount of time I have to be on the treadmill if I want to squeeze in the rest of my workout. I am constantly checking time, distance, calories, heart rate--it's all a numbers game. If I am running at home, I have already mapped out my training route and know which sections I will use for interval runs, etc. I enjoy this type of running too, but it is very different and much more regimented than the runs I was used to before.
A few weeks ago, I put the kids in childcare and decided to do a quick run near my house. I headed toward my usual route to find it blocked by Military Police officiers barricading the entrance to parade field. Not wanting to call it quits, I made a sudden decision to turn into a neighborhood alongside and try to box my way around to get back on course.
What seemed like it would be a simple solution wound up getting me temporarily lost. It turns out that the neighborhood streets I had entered did not box around like I thought they would, but instead weaved in and out of different subdivisions. Though I generally knew where I was, I didn't know how to get out and I wasn't ready to backtrack. So instead, I decided to have a blast from my own past and just run. Giving up control of my route, I let myself be led by the winding sidewalks. I ran where the pathways looked the prettiest and went on a little mid-afternoon adventure exploring new places. Eventually, the sidewalks spit me out near the track of my usual route, but much further down it. I was able to take the track the rest of the way home. When I got back from my run, I checked my time and realized that I had gone farther than I ever had up to that point and I had completed it faster. I had accomplished much more than I ever had because I had let go of my plans and let myself get a little lost.

How true this is in all areas of our lives! We can miss out on so many beautiful opportunities because we feel like they are "not part of the plan." I have come to find that sometimes 'detours' ARE the plan. Some of the best things in my life came to me by accident--when my pathway was blocked or my original plan was compromised. Some of my biggest accomplishments happened because I agreed to temporarily let go of my own control over the situation and simply be led. Perhaps the pathways I took were not always the "prettiest." At times, I have certainly felt a little lost. But I have always come out to find the track that leads me home.

I feel like I am currently at a point in my life where so many major details are uncertain, up in the air, and pending the outcome of something else. Seems like a good time for me to quit worrying about details, stop trying to map the exact route, and just simply enjoy the run.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Honey, I'm Home

It's amazing to think that just two short weeks ago, I was waiting very impatiently for my husband to come home. While I waited, I read the blog of a fellow milspouse who was documenting the transition of her family's reunion and her own struggle between her fantasy homecoming and the real one. If you have the time, it is worth the read.
Daddy's Home

Truth be told, it was laugh out loud funny but totally unrealatable for me. While I know there are some husbands who want nothing more than to come home and find a comfy spot on the couch, that has never been the case for my husband. The man has never been able to sit still for more than about five minutes since I've met him. He came back after ten months and picked up right where he left off without missing a single beat. In fact, I think it is safe to say that he has picked up his old responsibilities and then some. Since his return I have not cooked a single dinner. I have only done about 25% of the dishes. And I'm pretty sure he is the last one that ran a load of laundry. I have my extra partner in crime to help me tackle bath times and bed times. I have not had to take out the garbage in weeks. And this morning as I let the dog out of the house, I saw him catch a small bird--guess who is going to clean up that mess? (Hint: not me.)
I know I should be very grateful for this fact, so you are absolutely allowed to give me a good mental slap before I get ready to complain about it...especially if your husband has not come home yet or if your husband has retreated to the solitude of his comfy couch. (Go ahead. Give me a good smack right in the middle of my forehead.)

I expected that my husband might need some time to readjust to being home, but I never expected that it was actually me who would feel displaced. I had gotten so used to being the primary doer, decision-maker, and head of the household that I am having a hard time letting those duties go and letting my husband resume his rightful position. If I am being blatantly honest, I liked the independence and confidence I gained over the past year and I feel like it is being stripped away from me. I don't want to lose the newer, stronger me that I have found.

Fortunately, I have a very understanding husband...and a very intuitive one. One afternoon he sat me on our own comfy couch and let me talk it out. I told him how I felt lost, because the schedule that I had operated under for so long had been changed. I told him that I felt a bit bored, because most of the duties that used to occupy my time were being done for me. And I told him I felt disappointed that he was never going to see the better woman I had become.

Because he's the most awesome man on the planet, he assured me that he had noticed the positive changes in me--and even better, he told me that I had made him proud. He even offered me back some of my old chores like being on trash and doggie duty (Nice try, honey.)
I don't expect my husband to ever do any less than he has always done. This past week he caught a nasty stomach bug that I thought might slow him down a bit, but I still found him out back mowing the lawn. (I told you he doesn't sit still.) And while our chat made me feel a million times better, I don't expect our newly reintegrated family to operate any differently than it does now. There will still be days that I am bored looking for something productive to do because my husband keeps doing the chores for me. (Go on...smack me again.) There will still be days where I feel frustrated that I have to consult someone else on what they want to eat for dinner that week. And I am sure that there will still be days where I feel a bit displaced as I try to relearn my role in this two-parent household. But we will find our groove...we always do.
And what's more, we have found that no matter how awkward this initial readjustment may be, we will come out of it a newer, stronger, better family. We survived the deployment. Surely we will survive the reunion!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Homecoming

Anyone who has ever read more than two of my blogs should know by now that I like to look for the big meaning behind the littlest of things. This, in turn, translates into me liking to make big events for the littlest of reasons. Well this weekend, my husband finally came home from deployment, which was a BIG deal in and of itself...let us all try to envision the spectacle I attempted to make out of that!

Homecoming was a day I planned for and anticipated since the moment my husband left. He deployed in September and his welcome home banner had already been ordered, shipped, and stored away in October. The "welcome home cake" was researched months in advance. My homecoming outfit was purchased in April--3 months before the big day. I burned through two evenings and a bottle of wine making my daughter's American rag tutu for her to wear the night of her daddy's return. The "Welcome Home Dad" banner that I handcrafted for the inside of the house was hanging weeks before my husband actually came home. I kept stacks upon stacks of patriotic scrapbook paper, stickers, etc. piled up in my closet to turn into decorations for the big day whenever inspiration struck me. I literally had to ground myself from Hobby Lobby once their Fourth of July decor hit the display shelves.

With all of my advanced preparation and unnecessary planning, one would think that the big day would have gone off without a hitch...think again.

The day of Nathan's homecoming, I was still hostessing two houseguests (which in hindsight, was one of the best parts of the craziness as it kept me super distracted.) After I dropped them off at the airport, I thought I had around six hours or so to put the house back together and decorate it. Turns out, I didn't get six hours, but four. Score one for being on Facebook too much and catching the LAST minute change to the flight schedule!

In Facebook world, the banner that I had hung above the garage was showcased flying prominently and proudly in the sunshine.
In reality, I had to hang that bad boy up in the rain. It took me about 40 minutes, 50 big rain splats to the eyeball, and 16 good whacks to the thumb before I was able to get that sucker secured above the garage. Around 430pm I went through the garage to take out some garbage and found it on the ground, in a wad, covered in dirt. Already being dressed and ready to go, I grabbed some Command Strips and stuck it directly to the garage door. As we fled to the car in a tizzy, I found the banner again on the ground, in a big muddy rain puddle. The dirty sign eventually was draped over the car seats for Nathan to see after we walked him to the car.

My photo album will remember my patriotic scrapbook paper crafts like this:
In fact, my husband never got to see them this way. Remember the rain? Not so good for paper pinwheels. The first time my husband saw them was picking out soggy paper wedged between the bushes and throwing them directly into a garbage bag.

The signs my children painted for my husband will be forever remembered as looking like this:
But moments before the soldiers piled into the room in formation, my son spilled his bottle of water all over both of them, completely destroying his and bleeding paint down Samantha's.

The fabulous homecoming cake stayed looking fabulous...
...It was just room temperature by the time Nathan got home to it about 5.5 hours later. (I didn't get to nestle my icepacks into the middle of the cans in the midst of the rush to leave the house.)

My dress was pretty awesome, until my son smeared Cheetos all down the backside of it. My hair did look good until I had to stand outside in the rain for about 15 minutes before being allowed to enter the building. My makeup looked good too until I cried it all off. (But they were happy tears!)

But in spite of all of the craziness and waiting, we FINALLY got to share this moment:
And it was absolutely every bit as perfect as it looks :)

And I am not so crazy to know that in the end, that was all that really mattered.
(And I hope my husband feels the same way after I brought him home to eat a supper of leftovers and warm beer!)