expectations and adventures

I’m quickly discovering that no deployment is created equal and, as we’re embarking on an entirely different journey this time, I need to manage my expectations. I have big goals for this deployment. There’s no doubt about that. However, one week of deployment this time looks a lot different than our first week of deployment last time. On the plus side, we’ve had no dire medical crises yet (knock on wood) like we did last time. On the down side, I’m 33 weeks pregnant, struggling to kick bronchitis, and dealing with a toddler, and a four-year-old, both of whom are dealing with their emotions about Daddy’s absence in different ways.

I have high expectations for myself. I also have high standards and hopes for what I want to accomplish. If this first weekend solo was anything though, it was a big old slice of humble pie, and by Sunday, I was grateful for a difficult Saturday showing me the ropes. I shared a story on my personal Facebook about our struggles on Saturday, and it really reminded me to take a step back. Slow down. Breathe. Let’s just put it this way…it was not a good day.

We started our Saturday in a flurry of activity. My tired butt was racing the boys to the door to get to swim lessons in time. I’m sure they felt my angst, and it was a struggle to get through a dog walk, getting them to swim lessons, and then managing two little boys’ expectations during swimming. They did great, and things should’ve progressed, but we endured meltdown number one from child number two at Chick-fil-A, where we went for lunch. I’m not talking a little meltdown either. I’m talking…lying on the floor of the bathroom screaming.

We made it home, we got him in bed, and after a tumultuous nap time, we went to Target to get toilet paper and for Spencer to spend his piggy bank money on a toy he’d been saving up for. I’m not cruel. I gave Porter the option of a little Hot Wheels toy, too, but he selected a $25 toy, and when I put my foot down, he lost it. It was a tantrum of epic proportions on display for the whole world to see, and I was mortified. I try my best to give an air of holding it together, but I was a shell – a mere facade, if you will – totally at my breaking point.

In that moment of utter weakness though, people showed nothing but grace. Their words were kind and without judgment. Their eyes showed pity, of course, but it came from a place of understanding; almost as though they understood those expectations we all place on ourselves at some point.

Needless to say, we made it out the door and to the car, and once wrestling Porter into his seat, I had a good cry.

Here’s the thing…we like to show the good things. I love to paint a pretty picture as much as the next person, but this stuff is hard. Deployment is hard. Motherhood is hard. We place so many expectations on ourselves, but if there’s one thing this weekend taught me, it’s to give myself the grace and space that others showed me in a moment of sheer and utter exhaustion.

So, did we accomplish a ton this weekend? No. But we made it. The boys played. We continued potty training. We played in the snow (yes, a tiny dusting here in Washington) at the dog park. We did our swimming lessons, and we got haircuts. Was it one big epic adventure? No. But deployment, as a whole, is and I need to remember that.

Cheers to embracing the suck, managing my own expectations, and finding peace in the little adventures, too.