Archives for category: Lessons

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!

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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)

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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? 

I knew when we signed up for this life that there was a chance that J would miss the birth of our child{ren} because of a deployment. It’s something that makes my very soul ache, and even just thinking about it now is taking my breath away.

I love this man so much, and the fact that it is his baby that will emerge; a combination of the two of us; makes me desperate to have him be a part of that moment. I am more excited to see my husband hold our baby for the first time, than I am to hold bub myself.

I had mentally prepared for the possibility of a deployment though; I had thought practically about how the first year is really just all about breastfeeding, and J wouldn’t miss much (so slightly delusional thinking, haha). I was ok. It’s his job, and he would be on the deployment he’s been waiting for, doing what he trained for; I was ok; I had accepted this possibility.

What I had not prepared for is J missing the birth because of a field exercise. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but this is a WAY bigger kick to the guts. Obviously it’s not for certain, and the dates of the trip may change, but there is a two-week, non-negotiable, field trip smack-dab in the middle of ‘birth month’.

Maybe it’s because the last field trip J was on turned into a giant organisational disaster and he was left doing nothing but sitting around, but I just cannot reconcile the fact that he may be sitting down, doing nothing, and miss it for no reason. That’s it…if he’s going to miss it, I can accept that, but I need there to be a reason, I need it to be justified and just as important as bub being born.

At this point we just have to wait and see, but of course being up here in croc-land doesn’t help – my mum will need to come here if J goes, but then she’ll be using her precious holiday time to sit with me while I desperately pray for baby to just wait until J gets home to come. Gah! It’s just a mess.

I would REALLY like to hear from you readers who gave birth without your soldiers, for any reason, but especially because of courses/field.

I realised that I forgot to do a post when we reached our one year mark. I’m in Brisbane right now seeing family and friends, and it slipped my mind. I suppose I don’t need to explain, by now it’s evident that I’m a total blog-slacker!

so it’s been {more than} a year since J left for Kapooka…gee! SO much has changed, and it feels like a very long year.

I’ve been asked a few times recently – by new Army WAGS – for advice in dealing with it, or just more information about what to expect. I feel anything but qualified to give such advice, and each person will have their own unique way of dealing with things, and a different experience, but for me, there are a few key lessons that I’ve learnt…

FLEXABILITY

This is THE biggest lesson I’ve had to learn, and I still struggle with. I think it’s because I expect the Army to be super organised (when you hear military it {used to} conjur images of organisation, precision, discipline, etc to me); they are not. I mean I assume this is due to the fact that every little decision must go up and down the rank – I get that it’s not an easy thing to organise. So you have to learn to NEVER make plans. Once I started to accept that we could never make plans, and that we’d just have to ‘wait and see’ about everything {including how the birth of our child will go down}, it’s a bit easier, but there are times {like when you’re trying to decide if your mother should come to Darwin just in case J is away for the birth} when not knowing is torture. So I’m still working on it, but for me, that is the biggest lesson this last year has taught me.

INDEPENDENCE

When we were first together, and first married I remember feeling like I simply could not live apart from J. I remember complaining at work one day {we were both shift workers working opposite shifts} that I had only seen my husband for a few hours at a time for the past few days; it seems so silly now! I’ve not only learnt that I will in fact survive when he is away, I’ve also learnt that I can thrive and I can take care of myself. Do I like our time apart, well no, not really, some days I HATE it but there actually are times where I don’t mind being apart. As long as he’s away for a purpose, I can deal with separation, and I can focus ahead, on the fact that we will get to say ‘hello’soon enough. I had a moment a few weeks ago where I realised how far I’ve come, and how self-suficient I can be; I had to climb on a chair, 5 months pregnant, at the top of our staircase, and hang out over the balcony to change the outside light; that would not have happened pre-army, haha.

LOVE

There are so many more lessons I’ve learnt {which can be browsed here}, but the most important one is how much I love this man; every crappy day apart, every heart-sinking moment, even living in Darwin {hehe} is all immensly worth it. I would follow him anywhere {clearly}, and I feel honoured to be able to support him every day. This past year has not been easy, but in the end I think it has made our partnership, friendship, love and marriage so much stronger. I can’t wait to see what this second year has in store for us, there are some big things in the works, and it may include both our best and worst times, but after surviving this year, I know that if we let it, it can just make us even better!

I went to lunch with a new friend the other day. Her husband has just come home from field and she was telling me about the joyful reunion he had had with their children. We remarked on how the hello’s definitely make the goodbye’s worth it.

It’s this concept that I’m reflecting on currently, with SB’s homecoming in the next few days.

This life is such a cycle; a rollercoaster; a wave. We go from the stress of preparing for their departure, to the heartbreak of watching them walk away, to the exhausting loneliness of them being gone, then the excited and frustrating countdown to their return, the awkward and joyous reunion, and the difficult and fun readjustment, and finally the waiting for the next cycle to begin.

At least these are the steps as I see them…

So far, I’ve experienced these steps with 3weeks, 20 hours, 3days, and 1 month in between homecoming and farewell.

The shorter the amount of time, the more squished the steps are; in our 20 hours at marchout, the countdown started weeks before, but the reunion and readjustment blended into one, quick step, and the anticipation of the goodbye loomed way too quickly. Where as when we had this month together, we had plenty of time to enjoy the downtime between reunion and departure.

It’s such a funny life, isn’t it!? People say it’s unpredictable, and yes, it is. But in a way, this cycle is so, well, cyclical, there is a certain predictability to it. Sure plans change, last minute notice is given, dates are vague, but I know what to expect in the way that when I say hi, I know I will have to say bye again sometime soon. I know that when I’m feeling the stress of impending departure, there will be a point in the future when I feel the flipside, excited anticipation of his return.

I’m coming to love this life, and focusing on the flipside, especially when my current ‘side’ is gloomy, is certainly something which is contributing to that.

xxx

Our Internet issues are still going strong. If you’re unfamiliar with the drama, go check it out…starting here, then here. Are you all sick of hearing about this yet? Hehe

So this weekend, the plot thickened… I went to see my lovely step-sister who works at telstra. She said she would check for us because sometimes what they say on the phone is wrong…

So we went in and she checked the address…sure enough, the big, ugly word unavailable came up.

Disapointed…very disapointed.

So we knew that the next step was going to be to call dha and ask them to unlock our preference so we can pick a new house. I stressed all weekend, SB was telling me that they’d be annoyed and get mad, so I was pretty stressed by the time I called this morning…

She was lovely 🙂

She said she wasn’t sure why it wasn’t available because they aren’t aware of a problem in that area, but that it was no problem at all if we wanted to check out other houses.

So thats the plan…my fantastic sis is going to run all of the addresses and hopefully we can put this drama behind us (and I can stop boring you with these internet stories, haha).

I’ve learnt a HUGE lesson in all of this though; Army Wife Lesson #27 is don’t rush to pick a house…find out things like the internet availability FIRST.

(i’m writing this outside, on my ipad while the mover man packs up my house…i feel bad that i’m not helping, but i’d probably just get in the way. Lol)

Until next time…

I couldn’t sleep last night. My brain refused to turn off, and thus, I did not sleep. At 6 this morning I decided to try again – success!

3 hours later, my phone starts assaulting me in my sleep, I answer, sounding like I’ve just been woken up.

“hello, I’m Nikki your toll case manager, I just need to ask you a few questions”

“oh good morning, how are you” I manage through my fog. At this point I’m quickly trying to get it together…I knew this call would come eventually and I am determined to get Nikki to like me, this relationship, this phone call, is important!

“oh I’m sorry, did I wake you?” see, now Nikki thinks I am a lazy trophy wife who lounges around all day sleeping. Excellent first impression.

“oh no please don’t mind me, its totally reasonable for you to have called at 9am, most normal people are up and rararring (father of the bride) to go by now, my stupid brain simply wouldn’t shut down last night”. That is what I wanted to reply to Nikki, but in my sleepy haze, it was more like “oh it’s fine”, she probably added ” I do it all the time” to the end of my sentence in her mind.

she then asked me a few questions, and I managed to remember a couple of mine, which I managed to ask in an EXTREMELY bumbling and stumbling way – my brain needed to reboot during sleep, so it kept totally freezing as I tried to remember such simple words like car, or husband. It was painful.

then the stupidest of all things occurred…Nikki mentions something about only reimbursing us for time Lando spends at the babysitters, as long as we are staying in accommodation they’ve arranged. Then we discuss how many days it will take to get to Darwin – they budget around 8, we’re doing it in 5. We actually hang up, but then my stupid brain has a thought…

if they think we are on the road for day 6,7, and 8, they won’t have arranged temporary accommodation for those nights! I call Nikki back…

“we are actually planning on driving it in 5 days, so do you need to know this so that our accommodation in Darwin will be booked as of when we arrive?”

something, something, health and safety, something, something, you arrange your own accommodation during the drive so you can arrange a place in Darwin the last few days”. There; it’s complete – now Nikki has a vision of me as a lazy and stupid trophy wife.

of course! Gah how embarrassing! If they are paying for 8 nights of accommodation, that we arrange ourselves, of course we should simply arrange some in Darwin, whenever we may arrive there. My brain isn’t working…in fact, this post may make absolutely no sense! Haha

so the lesson I learnt is to always have your questions written down so you can cover everything in one, clearly pronounced conversation, and you don’t have to call back to ask illogical questions that potentially alienate your toll case manager. Lol

Last week was rough. I’m not sure what was happening on SB’s side that had him so stressed, but we just felt really, um, off? disconnected? separate?

All of our conversations were turning into fights, and there was just some invisible, cranky, monster between us. I finally texted SB and just asked if something had changed because he seemed completely indifferent towards me. I expected to get a message back that lovingly dissuaded my fears; something like, “of course not baby, I’m just really tired and busy at the moment, I’m sorry”; instead I got one that said something like, “I think I am, I don’t know why”. POW like a punch to the gut – I mean, I appreciated his honesty, but the last thing you want to hear from your husband is that he feels indifferent towards you.

I decided not to immediately get upset and irrational (must have been the 7 days of self-reflection I had to do last week – thanks JCU!), usually I would have, but instead I tried to understand what was going on in his life and in his brain.

The weekend came, and things started to get better, our conversations were more engaged and my sweet, loving husband came back. But our brief foray into ‘indifferent’ land had scared me, for sure, and I think him as well, so we started to talk about how we had ended up there; communication (see, I’m learning, hehe).

What we discovered, we have now dubbed, ‘Soldier Mode’, (I’m SO sure that we are not the first to experience this, and you’ve probably all already named it this, so don’t worry, we won’t try and take credit for it, hehe). When SB is on the job, Mon-Fri, he is completely immersed in Army – barracks, sergeants, corporals, training, etc; there’s just no space for thoughts of me and home.

That’s how I want it to be though. Once we had worked out what it was, and that it wasn’t about me or anything I did, I accepted ‘soldier mode’. I figure that the more he focuses on his training now, the more ‘soldier’ he becomes, the greater peace I will have when it comes time to deploy. I want him to be soaking in every tiny piece of potentially life saving information, I want him to learn to do his job to the very best standard possible. I want him to fully enter into ‘soldier mode’, so that he can come home and slip back in to ‘husband mode’.

I am so proud of how hard he works, and even how he is able to slip in and out of ‘soldier mode’, it’s a skill that I was hoping he would acquire because I really want him to be able to focus, 100%, on getting the job done and coming home.

I love my soldier, no matter what ‘mode’ he is in.

When I started this blog, I promised to be honest, to write about things even though they may be, in this case, a little risque, hehe. So nana, and any other family reading, you should probably skip this one. Right now, I’m wishing I had written this blog totally anonymously, haha but the post must go on.

There are so many things that go into building a healthy relationship. When you are together, one of those no-brainer factors is physical intimacy. It’s a fantastic, and important part of relationships, but it gets taken away when our soldiers are gone. We get so caught up, in the limited time we have to talk, with updating them on what’s going on, what the kids (or dog in my case) is up to, how they are doing, that flirting (and more) get pushed to the bottom of our priorities.

Each couple is different, and will have to choose for themselves how to go about dealing with distimacy (that would be distance + intimacy, hehe). Some couples will choose to completely eliminate sexuality from their conversations, others will go full-on pornographic, haha, to each their own.

What’s most important is not feeling embarrassed by wanting to introduce some distimacy. Sure it may not have ever crossed your mind to send a naked photo to your husband before, I know it didn’t ever cross my mind, but we aren’t a normal couple who sees each other everyday anymore. When you are together, you don’t have to send a photo, or a text, or an email, or a video, or even a letter, because they’re right there in front of you, but as Army Wives, we have to get creative ;).

I always considered sexting to be something reserved for pathetic, trashy, attention-seeking teenagers (like my teen self), not respectable, committed wives. Then I realised (as I had to choose how much distimacy to introduce into our own marriage), that trust and commitment are what set my sexting apart from 16 year old sexting. I know that my husband isn’t going to show his buddies, and rumours aren’t going to spread around school. I know that sending a photo to him isn’t about attention or getting him to like me (he already does!), it’s about maintaining that precious bond that intimacy brings to a relationship.

Now, obviously, I don’t know how this will change (and I’m sure it will change), once SB is deployed overseas. Less communication, and less medias for communication will, I’m sure, limit the options for distimacy even more, but we’ll write that post when we get to it.

I would love to hear what you think!

xxx