I think I’ve written before about how it can be difficult to come up with things to talk about with your partner when they’re gone. So far, most of the trips J has taken, he’s had his phone and some way of contacting us, so at most we’d only have to go a few days without speaking. Usually we’ve been able to text as we normally do; which if you ask anyone that knows us, is A LOT.

We text constantly. I kind of thought it was a honeymoon period sort of thing, for the first year or so of marriage, but nope, it’s stuck around. We just talk about everything that we’re doing, thinking, feeling. It wasn’t until this most recent field trip that I realised how important this connection is…

…no contact for 2 weeks. Now this doesn’t sound too bad in theory, I guess, and for some of you, this might not be an issue. In the past I know that I have sometimes felt like it was difficult to come up with things to talk about when we’ve had constant contact; I’ve even wished before that we wouldn’t have contact because I’ve felt such pressure to keep our conversations going. I can now say for a fact that, for me, no contact is WAY worse.

I never realised how much I rely on talking to my husband about everything. Talking is how I process and deal with things, and right now is an especially stressful time to not be able to talk to my guy; we’re posting out of Darwin, having a second baby, parenting a wild (but fun) toddler, and I’m finishing my first round of social work prac. There’s a lot going on, and I need to talk it out; my poor mother has had to replace J, and she gets daily phone calls where I unleash my crazy.

I know it’s not for long, and the point of this post isn’t to whine; it’s more to say that I realise now how much I would rather be struggling to come up with things to talk about, than struggling with not being able to talk at all. I am grateful for the communication I have with J, and I won’t take it for granted again.

Guys,

A friend of a friend, and a fellow Army family needs our help. Jen has battled and beaten cancer before, but her doctors have just discovered that it is back, and have given her 3-6months to live. When J told me, I stopped breathing, and my heart ached for them. Jen is Canadian and would like to go home with Scott (her husband), and their 4 beautiful sons. I’m asking for your help, however small or large, to support his Army family through their darkest hour. A mycause page has been set up for the family to help them raise the money to get them to Canada, and to pay for medical bills.

I’m not sure what else to say here. I don’t really know the Fitzgibbin family; we have seen each other at the birthday parties of our mutual friend’s children, and I have sat next to Jen at a gun salute; so I don’t want to pretend that I know them, or what they’re going through. All I’m going to say is that my heart hurts for her and their family, and for our mutual friend who I know loves her so much. I wanted to do something to help, and this blog gets a steady, albeit small, stream of hits, so I hope sharing will help them reach their goal. So if you can, please help me support this beautiful family.

Thanks guys

https://www.mycause.com.au/page/84618/loveforthefitzgibbins

As we get on in this life, things change; we’ve just finished 3 months apart, and I found myself thinking how different this time was, so I thought I’d share since I finally have something to write, and mostly for my own memory’s sake.

It feels like we’ve been doing this forever, in fact, it feels like we’ve had about 5 separate lifetimes; I can split mine into life in America, moving to Australia and those few years of high school, dating J, living in J’s grandmother’s house the first year of our marriage, basic training, Darwin pre baby, Darwin post baby…so I guess that’s 7. Each period is so different, and they feel like separate lives.

If we ignore basic training, which was its own, bizarre acclimatisation to life in the Army, trips when we first moved to Darwin, and the one we just completed feel so different.

J was sent on his first field trip a few weeks after we moved to Darwin…can’t really remember how long it was (it will be in the blog somewhere). While I remember it sucking, new place, no friends, alone, I think it was easier than it is now.

This trip that we just finished was definitely the worst we’ve ever done. The time went by at a snails pace, and I missed him more than I ever have. See, before, I would just put my head down, and either keep busy with work & uni, or crawl into a cocoon of tv-shows, hours and hours of tv, which helped to distract me and pass the time. I missed him, but I guess we felt more separate (not sure how to describe it any better), and time apart was just something we did, and it didn’t really affect me the same way as it does now…

Archer is the difference (I assume). Now when J’s gone, it feels like a part of myself is missing. We parent, and live as a team more than we did before, and so I feel the separation so much more than I did before. I also can’t pass the time in the same way I used to – there’s no endless hours of tv, and anyone with kids knows that the days move slowly, but the years speed past. There’s also feelings of sadness that he’s missing things, and I guess we just feel closer now that we’re parents.

Anyway, so while the separations themselves are harder now, the readjustment is SO much better! I suppose this is due to all of the reasons that separation is harder. We used to have a pretty difficult adjustment period – I felt like I was being crowded, and he felt unsure how to fit back into home life, and this went on for at least a few weeks.

This time, adjustment lasted as long as the first, kind of awkward kiss, and the length it took to pick up his baggage. Then it was simply joy to have my partner, friend, and heart back. I could exhale and not be alone anymore, I could exhale and enjoy watching my boys play together, and I could exhale knowing that things were back to normal. 

2 weeks later, I’ve pretty much forgotten that he was ever gone, and can’t really imagine what those months were like without him – it’s like they just get erased, and we pick up where we left off. I was looking at my Timehop app (it’s super cool and shows you what you were doing on social media on that day for the last 6 years – sometimes frightening), and realised that almost to the day J got home from this trip, he had left for another 3 month field/course trip. That means that in the last year, we’ve had at least 6 months apart, that’s not including the smaller trips which probably add up to 1-2 months. But ya know what…if I hadn’t looked at Timehop, I never would have known that we’ve spent less than half of the last year together.

We make the time we have together count so much, that the time apart is simply a pause button that is forgotten as soon as we hit play again. I hate the separations now, but I wouldn’t want to go back to how it was before. I now know that separations are harder now because we love deeper, our relationship is stronger, and our reunions are better, and I for one am so thankful to have someone that I miss that much. 

 

It can be hard not to hate the Army sometimes. I curse them at least once a month, when they take J away, or fail to give us information, or the mess with our lives in some way. This is what happens, this is part of the life, and it can be so easy to blame them, and hate them, and just take out your anger on them.

What we need to remember though, is that there are benefits.Without the Army, I wouldn’t be able to stay home with my son, we probably wouldn’t have even had him. We have a house we could never afford otherwise, and great job security, and we get to live in different places (this can be seen as a positive or a negative).

The sacrifices that we make can be great, and I would never ask J to make them just to get the benefits. The most important thing is that this is what he wants to do, and appreciating the benefits simply helps to accept all of the hard times. Am I always able to do this? Definitely not, haha, I frequently curse the Army and wonder why we are doing this to ourselves, but eventually I remember, and I am thankful, both to the Army who offers us these benefits, and my husband, who sacrifices so much more than I do, and works so hard so that we can have them.

I’m a bit late with this, but it’s been 2 years since J joined the Army. I cannot believe that it has only been 2 years! I swear it feels like at least 5 – not sure if this means that time is going fast or slow? hmmmm

I think it’s just that SO much has happened in that short amount of time, and it feels like we’ve come so far. Pre-Army life feels like a completely different life altogether, and I guess it really is.

I can’t really speak for J, who I’m sure has learnt just as much, and grown/changed just as much, but in the last two years I can say that I have changed. I’ve grown up, become more confident in my ability to take care of myself and my family, become more independent, gotten used to saying hello and goodbye to my husband frequently and on short notice, and I’ve had to put myself out there in order to make friends (something I’m very uncomfortable with).

This life has been hectic, infuriating, devastating, frustrating, and empowering.

I still don’t know how long we will remain in the Army, or where our journey will take us, but despite all the bad; last minute goodbyes, being apart a lot, interruptions to our personal life, etc; I am thankful for having experienced this life, and for all the good that it provides as well; seeing new places, housing, being a part of something important.

These 2 years have been the most challenging, and most rewarding of my life so far, and I’m really looking forward to what the rest of our time in the Army (be that 2 years or 50) brings!

For the first time in awhile, I actually have things to write about, but don’t get the time with the baby! My sister’s just put him down for a nap though, so I’m going to try and write this quickly!

J has surprised me a few times. He’s told me different arrival times and then shown up early. At the time, I thought this was fun (even though I was usually sus), and harmless. Turns out, this is my NUMBER ONE NO-NO of Army Wife life. These harmless little surprises have created an extremely cruel expectation in my mind.

This weekend was my best friend’s wedding. J was going to try to come, but eventually they told him he couldn’t (that’s another {infuriating} story). No matter how much evidence there was that he was telling the truth, and no matter how many times I told myself, “you are being an idiot! he said he’s not coming!”, there was still a part of me that kept expecting him to just show up.

For a whole week, I was on edge, waiting to see him appear, even while he was sending me photos of himself at our house. Every time he took a few hours to respond to a text, I thought “he’s on the plane!”. Every time I drove to my in-laws, I expected to find him sitting there, and for all of them to laugh about the secret they’d been keeping.

but every time I got a response, or showed up at my in-laws and he wasn’t there, and I would have that disappointed, sinking feeling again.

I hate my brain for playing this trick on me. It’s not his fault; he clearly told me that he wasn’t going to make it! Damn him anyways though, for ever surprising me!

So if you’re reading this, and you’re like me, DO NOT let your soldiers EVER surprise you! Even the tiniest surprise appearance can set up a horrific expectation that will haunt you for years.

 

I’ve gotten some very lovely comments from new readers the last couple of weeks. Your comments were a lovely reminder of why I blog (even when it may be months between posts). Welcome to the blog, I hope that it helps you to get an idea of what to expect, but your experience will, of course, be unique. This life is crazy, and hard at times, but I hope you are able to embrace the ups and downs because (I think) you’re tough enough to handle it!

***

Sorry it’s been so long. Not much Army related has happened here. Well, I think it probably has, but I don’t notice anymore. I’ve been busy blogging over on my other blog though.

J’s away at the moment. It’s the longest separation since training, but SO different this time around!

I always thought that separation would be easier once I had a baby to keep me busy. I thought I would be less lonely, less bored, and less sad.

Well, I’m certainly busier, and maybe a bit less lonely, but I’m definitely not less sad, more in fact.

See, when I thought about how a baby would change separation, it was pre-baby, and my thoughts were focused on how it would be for me, not J.

This time, Archer is a reality, a funny baby boy who loves his daddy. This time, my heart was heavy not {entirely} because of how much I would miss J, but because of all that he would miss. It breaks my heart that he has to miss out on things.

It may be a bit easier for me now that I’m a mum; I have great friends, lots of playgroups/playdates to keep me busy, and the sweetest little dude to snuggle when I’m lonely, but I didn’t realise how hard it would be to watch Archer develop when I know his daddy would love to watch it too.

(there’s also the part about not really getting a break, ever, and dealing with teething on my own. haha)

I wish J didn’t have to miss things, but I just focus on the fact that it’s temporary, and that for every thing he misses, he’ll get to be here for something else. I turn my attention forward, to when I know we’ll be back together again, and we always end up there.

For now, I send pictures and videos, show Archer the videos his daddy made for him, and talk to Archer about how much his daddy loves and misses him. We love and miss him too.

(And I go home to my family for a month. haha)

This may already be a lesson; a can’t remember if I’ve written it, but I know that this isn’t the first time it’s been applicable.

Field Law states that when your soldier is gone, things will go wrong! And unlike things like I posted about yesterday, these things are usually big, really stressful, and something that you would love your soldier to handle!

Today J left for field. It’s just a quick one, so I wasn’t too stressed. That was until I saw that Jawa had gotten under our fence (that we reported broken when we first moved in) and was playing with the neighbours dogs.

After pushing her back under once, upon which she went directly back into their yard, it was clear that this problem wasn’t going away…panic! I have NO idea how to fix a fence. After a call to DHA which made it clear that the fence probably won’t be fixed for ‘a few weeks’, my panic grew…

…and this is when another Army life thing comes in handy – friends! I have been ‘saved’ by this particular friend of ours quite a few times in the last couple of weeks, so I was reluctant to bother him yet again, but honestly, I didn’t know what else to do. What’s so great about our friends is that he dropped everything, took me and Archer to Bunnings, and is now in my backyard fixing the fence.

So the real lesson here is that Field Law is survivable provided you have fantastic friends, like we do!

So hopefully this is it for this field trip – I usually have one big thing go wrong.

 HUGE thanks to our great friends…promise we’ll stop asking you to help us out soon!

I’m not sure if what I’m about to write about is a positive or negative, probably by the end of typing out my thoughts I will have worked it out, but I want to hear what you think!

When our soldiers are gone, all jobs fall to us. I find myself struggling with asking J to do things when he is home though. It usually goes something like this in my head:

“I should really change that lightbulb. I should ask J to do it. Oh, I might as well just do it because he won’t always be home, so I need to know how”

I’m not sure why I do this as opposed to getting him to do as much as possible for the very same reason, that soon it will all be on me? Besides feeding the dogs and doing the lawns, I pretty much adopt the attitude of DIY.

It’s not that I never ask and he never offers to help around the house, I just always have the battle in my head first. I guess I just don’t want to become totally dependent on him; I want need to be able to take care of us when he’s gone.

For now I will continue to make sure that I can do things myself, but I will try to calm my inner DIY diva, and let J help out while he’s around (and he does, I got a sleep-in this morning!).

Does anyone else do this? Or do you do the opposite and save jobs for your soldiers? 

hint: Archer’s out here with me, and the sounds coming out of his room are super cute!

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Find out tomorrow on my personal blog {it is Army related…sorta}.