If you have been following my blog, you know that I set some pretty lofty goals for myself and, about 2 months into the deployment, realized they were not very realistic for me during this particular time in my life. Sadly, one of the things that got pushed to the sidelines was my daily chronicling of the kids shenanigans. Most of that, however, was out of necessity simply because everything that was funny or crazy enough to write about usually required at least an hour of clean-up, and sometimes required enlisting the services of a professional handyman, so I didn’t always get around to writing about it in a timely manner. But, I tried to keep notes about the real doozies, and I am going to attempt to re-create them.
I have learned, however, that I write some of my best and most comical pieces in the heat of the moment, usually while the freshly mopped floor is still drying after my cleaning up Lord only knows what kind of disaster, but I’m gonna do my best . Some are long, and some are short. Some will make you simultaneously laugh at my children’s antics while you cry at the heck I go through some days. Be warned, though, some might make you a little sick at your stomach! But, I am constantly reminded that these days that seem so hard to get through sometimes now are the very same days I will long for in a few short years when my kids are too cool to hold my hand in public or kiss me goodbye in front of their friends. My good friend Stessie, without even intending to reach me in particular, recently reminded me that “our kids live in the ‘now.’ They don’t worry about the past or spend too much time looking toward the uncertainties of the future. Life happens now,” and I don’t want to miss a thing. So, I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I enjoy telling them. If not, that’s okay. They will provide wonderful topics of discussion to share with our children’s dates one day in the very, very, very distant future!
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read my blogs entitled “The Best Laid Plans” and “You’re an Idiot, Bless Your Heart.” It will give you a little more perspective on what all I had gone through during our first month of the deployment. It will also convince you that God has an awesome sense of humor!!
April 1, 2011- One Month Down Ice Cream Party
Before Bill left, we participated in a program on base called FOCUS. It stands for Families Overcoming Under Stress, and it basically teaches you resiliency training in the face of a stressful situation such as a deployment, a move, or any life event that causes stress and anxiety. It is a fabulous program that is conducted by Master’s level social workers, and if you are experiencing a situation that you anticipate to be overwhelming, I highly recommend you seek them out. Ok, I am aware that was a shameless plug for my pals at FOCUS, but it has made a huge difference in the way this deployment could have gone vs. how well it really has gone (at the time of this writing we are 4 months and 26 days into it, and I am constantly amazed every day at God’s grace and mercy as we face this deployment), and I want everyone to benefit from this free service.
One of the great ideas they gave us was to have an ice cream party with Bill the day he left for Afghanistan, and then, every month, on the anniversary of the day he left, the kids and I would have an ice cream party as a celebration that one month had passed and we were one month closer to Daddy being home. This celebration was to be marked by building a 6 scoop paper ice cream cone on a large white sheet of paper. The night we had the party with Bill, he and the kids glued a paper ice cream cone on the paper, and every month we celebrated, we would add a paper scoop of ice cream. When Daddy comes home, we will have a party together, and he will add the paper cherry to the top. It’s a great visual tool for the kids, and I had very high hopes when we began using it.
Bill left March 1, so we had our very first ice cream party April 1. April Fools!!! I can’t even begin to tell you how not-great it was. I am still sad about that. That happened to be a Friday, and Faith has ballet on Friday evenings, so we went after her lessons. I wanted it to be a great party for them, so we went to Cold Stone Creamery. Faith was so excited about it! I would like to take a timeout here to brag on what an awesome kid she is. She helps me so much with Rhett; whether it’s helping him climb into a high chair so he can’t wreak havoc on the restaurant or cheering him up when he’s inconsolable, she is the best big sister I could ever ask for. They play so well together, and they both have the most loving personalities, sometimes I feel like I am totally unworthy of being the mommy of such amazing little people!
So, we are at Cold Stone, and I have picked out a table and Faith has helped me put Rhett into his highchair. See, the fun started in the car when Rhett, after being told we were having an ice cream party started screaming, declaring he “no like it I keam.” I was sure he would change his mind once we got inside, so Faith and I literally drug him from the car into the ice cream shop. We were the only ones in there, so his screams echoed off the walls and drew a panicked stare from the poor 18 year old behind the counter. I am pretty sure she won’t be having kids for a loooonnnnggg time now. You’re welcome! Determined to have a nice 1 month down celebration even if it killed us, I went ahead and ordered our ice cream. Something pink and blue and served in a chocolate dipped waffle bowl covered in sprinkles for Faith, she goes for aesthetics more than flavor I think, and chocolate for Rhett.
I get it all to the table, and Rhett starts crying even louder, if that were possible. By this time, though, the place is starting to fill up, so there are about 15+ people staring at me while I try to be upbeat and encouraging that we made it through a whole month. Half-way through Faith declares that her ice cream looks much prettier than it tastes and asks if she can have Rhett’s chocolate. Well, you can probably tell where this is going…Yep! Rhett did not want her to touch his “I keam.” Thankfully, I was able to distract him with her chocolate covered sprinkle bowl, thus ensuring he wouldn’t go to sleep for at least another 2 hours…oh, well. Having decided we had “celebrated” enough, we left and went home to glue our first paper scoop onto the cone and snap a picture for Daddy.
Faith was all sweet ballerina smiles, and Rhett was still one unhappy camper. But, you know what, that’s what I felt like too. I was trying to turn today into a celebration of us being 6 months closer to Bill’s return, but I wanted to cry even louder than Rhett that someone we love so much has been gone a whole month and we haven’t even scratched the surface. FYI: deployments aren’t fun. But they are necessary if we want to sleep in peace at night when we lay down our heads. Someone has to do it. It just so happens I married one of the few who was brave enough to volunteer for the job.