As of late Friday evening, the kids and I are officially back at JBLM and gearing up for another “school” year. This is Spencer’s last year before kindergarten, as he starts Pre-K officially today, and Porter is moving onto the preschool room. Before we dove in headfirst, however, I needed a break. After a hellacious last month losing Stella and struggling with crippling anxiety through it all, I knew we needed to get out. We flew Space-A, we had a breath of fresh air in New Hampshire, and we came back to dig in our heels for the last month(+) of this deployment. Motherhood and the military are two very complex entities that rule my life, and there are times I feel myself getting lost in them. Taking these breaks, however, reminds me of some very important things.
Before I married Ryan and, essentially, married the military, I had absolutely no idea how resilient I could be. I thought I was resilient, of course, but I was never really challenged like I am these days. When you marry into the military, you have very little control over your surroundings. Your home is dictated. Your duration is dictated. Your schedule is dictated. There’s very little wiggle room. You have to force it because, if you don’t, you begin to lose yourself in the process.
While I don’t love deployments, and I’ll readily admit that they suck, they’ve afforded me the opportunity to grow leaps and bounds both as a mother and as an individual. For example, I flew commercial solo with the kids from Portland, ME to Seattle, WA this past Friday. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s not something I will ever readily choose to do solo again. That being said, I’ve discovered that if I put my mind to something, I’ll get it done. I’m stronger than I think I am, and that’s something that motherhood and the military have both taught me.
I often find that there’s very little me time in this lifestyle, but I’d hazard a guess that any mother would say the same. I lamented about this fact while I sat on the toilet in a small airport bathroom stall with a baby strapped to my chest while two little boys tried to see and continuously asked “are you pooping?” While being a mother is my primary identity right now, I find myself in the little moments of spontaneity with my kids. When Spencer’s lit up in a cargo plane and said “this is the coolest thing ever.” Or, when Porter threw rocks into a chilly NH stream and said “I love Oma and Opa’s house.”
My highlight reel might be mostly babies and squishy cheeks, down-home adventures and silly moments with my kids, but I’m okay with that. I am in the thick of this season with my littles and while it’s hard, motherhood and the military have shown me that I am more than just one thing. I’m a mama. I’m a wife. I’m both parents when I have to be. I’m a friend. I’m a kisser of boo-boos and a glorified milk-maker. I’m a challenge-seeker and an adventure-taker. I do. not. back. down. If I go for it, I’ll get it.