If you, too, are the spouse of a Marine (or service member from any other branch) then you know how important any form of communication can be. You sleep with your phone beside your pillow. You forward your home phone to your cell phone any time you leave the house. You are the lady who leaves her phone on vibrate in the movie theater and church, and, on more than on occasion, you have been the lady who, as quietly as possible, makes a quick, stealth-like exit when she receives a call from the one she loves who is serving his country so far away from home. You have pulled over into a parking lot in an obscure location because you are between two deadzones for your coverage area, and you simply cannot risk having your semi-reliable cell phone provider’s shaky network dropping this important phone call.
If you are fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you will view it by the end of this story), your spouse may have access to something such as Skype. I would like to point out that I think technology is fabulous…when it works. It is infinitely frustrating when it does not. And, like most new technology, Skype is your best friend when the stars are aligned and networks are clear, but it quickly morphs into your absolute worst enemy in no time. At times, I am fairly certain it was conceived by the devil himself. So begins my story…
It was the first or second day of summer vacation, and I had let the kids stay up late the night before. So, for the first time in over a year, they actually slept in a bit. I know I should have capitalized on this and jumped in the shower, but, crazy person I am, I took care of some things around the house first. By the time I was getting ready to get that much desired shower, I heard my 2 year old son squawking over the baby monitor. As much as I wished I could pretend I simply didn’t hear him, there was no way I could ignore his incessant “MO-MMY!!!!” So, I got him up, which in turn led to him waking his sister up, and I began making breakfast. In the middle of this, I got a text (for those of you who don’t know, if your spouse has email access, he can text you from his email) from my husband saying he would be able to Skype soon.
As much as I appreciated the heads up, I had no idea how soon “soon” was. I was afraid to get in the shower for fear I would just get all lathered up and my daughter would run in saying the computer was ringing in a Skype video call. I was equally fearful he would see me looking like an unshowered ragamuffin. However, I feared missing him more, so I brushed my hair and teeth (yes, I am fully aware he can’t smell morning breath there…) and made myself presentable. Then I waited…for over two hours. He was finally able to Skype around 12:45pm, just as I was preparing to put our son down for his nap. And this is where the real fun began.
First, the Skype video call came in on my laptop. But, for whatever reason, he could see us but could not hear us. I checked all of the settings on my computer and my webcam, and everything confirmed that my microphone was working properly. Then we lost signal. He called back, but, for whatever reason, it came in on my Ipad 2 instead of my laptop, so we ran to get that before we lost his call. The Ipad 2 is a fabulous little piece of technology, but it’s camera isn’t wide angle like my webcam, and my kids are way too bouncy for him to get a good picture of them. So, while he is asking me to have them sit absolutely still, they are running, jumping, and flying off the furniture as if they think I am too preoccupied to do anything to stop them. They were right. I could either fight technology or them, but not both at the same time. So, we get disconnected again, and I wait for the Skype call to come back in on my Ipad. Well, imagine my surprise when it rings in again on the laptop, but then Skype freezes up and I am unable to answer the call. It rings in again on the Ipad, so I run back to the counter to answer it there, but before I can explain the situation to him, he is gone again, lost in cyberspace.
At this point, I decide to try to restart my laptop since the Skype is still frozen up and I am getting the “not-responding-swirling-blue-circle-of-mounting-frustration.” My laptop is just starting back up, and all of the programs are opening. We are at the “don’t touch anything or the whole machine will lock up in response to your impatience” part of the drill, and, low and behold, he Skypes in again, and it comes through on the laptop, thus locking the whole thing up. There is no way to explain this to him, though, so I try to ignore his call. Refusing to be put off so easily, he tries again and again and again, each time locking up my computer until I am to the point I would take a swim through hot lava than try to deal with technology that is clearly not cooperating at this time. But there is no way to tell him any of this.
I frantically begin sending him messages to both his work and personal email. I message him on Skype, Windows Messenger, and Facebook. Really, I tried everything but carrier pigeons, but I couldn’t explain the situation. Add to this frustrating story a 2 ½ year old little boy running through the house crying and saying, “Where Daddy go? I didn’t say “I wuv oo Daddy.” I want Daddy.” Mix that with a 6 year old’s pleading eyes just begging for the chaos to stop, and you get one stressed out Mama. I regret to inform you that when we finally did get a few minutes of semi-clear (his video picture was upside down, but why should that shock me at this point?) video chat time, I was not the sweet, loving person he had hoped to speak with that day. Instead, I was the hacked off, burnt out, evil twin who actually had the audacity to yell at him. I am not proud of that, and I have apologized and been forgiven, but by the time this was all said and done, it was nearly 4pm, and we had been at it for over 3 hours and had been disconnected more than 20 times.
We finally gave up, said our “I love you’s” and disconnected. For the second time in the nearly four months he has been deployed, I put the kids down for a nap, climbed in the shower, and cried…alot. It was the “ugly cry”, complete with blotchy eyes and tears and snot running down my face, and I am so thankful no one was there to witness it. I cried out my frustrations, and I cried out to God. I wept and prayed and begged God to help this get easier. All we wanted was to see that the other was okay, and it turned out disastrous. After a few minutes of standing under the hot stream and cry-praying, I felt much better. I vowed that tomorrow would be better, and I immediately emailed my husband an apology. Thank goodness I had made that vow to myself or what happened next would have been nearly unbearable.
The next day, the kids and I were on our way to the commissary. I had forwarded the home phone to my cell phone, and I had a full battery and full bars of signal. So, I was shocked when the phone never rang, but I got a voicemail notification. I didn’t even have to listen to the voicemail to know we had missed his call yet again. But, I listened anyway, and his disappointment was painful to hear. He never called back, and we finished our grocery shopping with heavy hearts. He later confessed that he thought I purposefully didn’t answer his call. That went over with me like a lead balloon, but then I realized how, in my frustration, I had spoken to him harshly.
So, the next day, to make sure my network didn’t drop his call again while I was at home, I turned off call forwarding. We were able to speak with him for a little bit, and he promised he would call again tomorrow. But, I was in a rush the next morning, and I forgot to forward the phones again, and we missed his call again. The next day he messaged me that the phones were down and he would be unable to call. By the end of the week I was so frustrated, I could hardly stand it. I felt like I simply couldn’t catch a break, no matter how hard I tried. But, then I realized something I had been missing all along.
God doesn’t Skype. He doesn’t rely on faulty networks or overworked brains who forget to forward the phone. He is always there, waiting for our call, willing to answer no matter the time of day. In some ways, I think this hellish week of communication (or lack thereof) served a greater purpose, and that was to teach me that things will not always go my way. Actually, because of the job we have been called to do, more often than not I will probably deal with some kind of adversity I would rather avoid. But, it’s up to me to call on the One who can help me. He may not steer me around it, and He may not take the obstacle out of my path, but He will enable me to plow through whatever comes my way. He’s just waiting on me to call Him.