Monday, March 5, 2007

Appreciation for our Sacrifice

As a Christian author-to-be I recently joined American Christian Fiction Writers Organization. When I introduced myself I told everyone I'm the mother of four with my husband in Iraq. Soon after e-mails poured in to welcome me and thank my husband for his service and then thank me for the sacrifice I've made while he serves. Only a few people have thanked me, ever.

Then yesterday, as I attended my first Sunday school class at my new church, the pastor introduced me and told everyone my husband was in Iraq. A visitor leaned forward and said, "Thank you for your service. The families serve as much as the soldiers. So, thank you."

People forget, we, the ones left behind, sacrifice more than our soldiers do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not degrading what our men and women in arms do, but their jobs are, as my husband says: "a cake walk compared to what you have to do at home."

So far, he has spent his entire time there on base in his office, never leaving for anything. And I feel he'll only set foot off base when he comes home on leave. But back here at home, I've been cooped up inside with four cabin crazed kids because the weather doesn't permit escape. We've combated one sickness after another. When they're all crabby, I'm at my wits end to get them calmed down while I don't lose my mind, which many times I have failed. There's homework, house work, the driving from here to there, doctor appointments, grocery store trips, meetings--sometimes with all four kids in tow, keeping two young children occupied while I try to write and revise a book, getting them to keep their rooms cleaned, teaching them to not jump on furniture or out of the windows, the list goes on and on. Up at 6:30, on the bus by 7:30, out the door at 8:00, and then run any errands that need to be run and back home, only to turn around and leave again, on a good night I'm in bed by 10:00.

Many of these things my husband would help with, or do for me so I could have a break. But I will admit, by him being gone, some of my workload has decreased. But that doesn't compare to the nights where I wish I could just sit and chill while someone else gets the kids cleaned up and put to bed. The nights where I have no one to talk to when I used to. And the days where I wish someone else would just clean that up instead of me.

We sacrifice so much so they can serve, and yet, we're the ones usually forgotten. But our soldiers don't forget. They have said countless times, their job is made easier because of those of us back home.

So, today, if you personally know a family who has a soldier or sailor serving thank them for their duty. Especially if it's a spouse with children. We're the forgotten ones.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Starbucks and Kids:-)

Funny how much things change when you become single....I always felt like I was already a "single Mom" because my dh worked nights and didn't do much around the house. When the kids were babies I nursed them and they were my pretty much my responsibility. He didn't even change diapers because we used cloth and I didn't want him to mess them up lol He never got up at night with them. We also made the choice to not use babysitters so the kids went with us everywhere. If we ever had to leave them with anyone my parents lived 3 houses down so they would watch them. We still hurried to pick them up and never abused the situation by having them do it a lot. I honestly didn't think much would change when I moved here but I was WRONG. I still have the same responsibilities but now I don't have the option to go off alone like I did...just the fact that the option is GONE makes this harder if that makes sense. Tonight was a perfect example of how much my thinking has changed. I have been here 7 months and with the exception of when I had surgery I haven't really been away from my kids. I actually took a day off work just to be alone!...anyway, tonight the church was having a movie night for the kids and the old me would have jumped right in to see how I could help and I would have stayed...the new me said "so I can leave the kids and I don't have to stay?" and when they said NO I did a little happy dance and invited some ladies out for Starbucks lol It was SO nice to just be around other women. I need that fellowship more now than I ever did...I get so lonely and some days I feel so overwhelmed with the amount of things I have to do...It is hard to turn my brain off...I always have a mental list going in my head and I can only put things off so long...Like I still need to get an oil change, go grocery shopping, buy shoes for my kids, take them to spend their gift cards from CHRISTMAS!, plan a birthday and a million other things:::sigh::::it is exhausting at times because it is just me. Housework is never ending and I have had to let my standards go down a little. I miss having lines in my carpets from the vacuum;-) Tomorrow starts another day full of never ending responsibility but for tonight I feel refreshed. Tonight I feel like I can do this..tonight I will go to bed with a smile on my face and I won't feel guilty because I needed this. The old me would have felt like a horrible Mom but the new me knows my limits. I REALLY needed this and I don't think those women know how blessed I was to just sit there and not have to think about custody battles, divorce lawyers etc Tonight I felt normal and that alone was a blessing. I am so thankful for my church and my friends...I really am blessed:-)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The First Year

My first year as a single mom was difficult. The kids cried for their daddy and I cried for the companionship of my friend, lover, confidant, and husband.

Faced with no income at first(it takes a while for the insurance company to send insurance money) I sold my engagement ring to purchase groceries to feed the kids. Thank goodness we also had mortgage insurance and the house would be paid off with that money. Once all the insurance money arrived we were pretty well set financially for a while anyway.

But with all the housework and yard work and upkeep of a home I was soon overwhelmed with it all. I remember many nights after the children were in bed, retreating to the basement family room to cry and feel sorry for myself. The hardest thing for me was dealing with everything alone, with no one to share the bad times as well as the good times with. I had family, but none living close enough to me to be of any weekly help. I cried because I couldn't do it all. The cleaning, the lawn mowing, the weeding, the laundry, dealing with sick kids...with no one to help...EVER! It was during that first year of crying in the family room that I pulled out my Bible and began to read. I started in Psalms as they were my favorite. I found comfort. And I once again learned to lean on God and let go of my anger at Him. It took a while. See, this wasn't the first person I had lost to death. My dad was killed by a drunk driver when I was a senior in high school and my mom died 3 years later while I was in college. I have an older sister and a younger sister. My older sister was married and had just had a new baby when my mom died and was pregnant with her 4 childd when Dave died, and she lived out of town. My younger sister was in high school when mom died and I quit college and got a full time job so I could take care of her and get her through high school. I never returned to college. I met Dave and we married and had our first child 2 days before our first wedding anniversary. I don't tell you this story so you will feel sorry for me. I'm just laying the groundwork so you will understand the anger I had toward the Lord for allowing Dave to die. And the guilt I felt over that anger was huge! Yet, I wasn't able to let it go for quite some time. But when I fianlly released it....oh how much stronger I felt and what a relief off my shoulders.

No matter how hard it gets being a single mom, the one thing we all have to count on is the LORD. Sometimes we think He isn't there with us...but it's those times I found that I was absent from HIM. Without Him, where would any of us be?