"Wow. It seems like you're actually doing pretty good."
Words from our pastor, while eating dinner together.
There have been moments where I've wanted to meltdown, but for the most part, I have felt pretty good over this deployment. What made this one different?
1. Being able to talk to Ben. It wasn't a lot, but just having some sort of contact with him every day made a HUGE difference in my world.
2. Ben continued to handle our finances and bills. It was just one small thing that was off my plate. Thank you technology! He even did our taxes! Both deployments, our internet bill has suddenly stopped coming out automatically. Last time it was a huge headache for me to try and fix it (since he was first on the account, they wouldn't talk to me), but this time he fixed in 2 seconds and all was fine.
3. I continued to get up early in the morning before the kids. This is tried and true in my life; my days go much better when I get up before the kids and have coffee and have some quiet time. It was still true even when I was tired from flying solo...I just drank a little more coffee :)
4. I took a little more time for myself. I would literally run circles around our block, which I'm sure made the neighbors wonder about me, but it gave me a few quiet moments to myself. I also signed up the kids for "parent's night out" at the Y and it gave me an evening to myself at least once a month. I made an effort to get haircuts and a few pedicures and bought some new clothes; just little things to keep taking care of myself.
5. The kids are older. They are able to help with dishes and cleaning up the house (not always willingly, but they are able). They can all shower and dress themselves. Most of all, Alison is now able to help watch the boys while I'm working on something.
6. I planned events throughout. We had a "Falloween" and Valentine's Day party. We went on day trips to San Diego twice and Phoenix once. These little things gave us a project to work on and something we could anticipate and plan for that was closer than daddy coming home.
7. Maya. Yes, having a dog helped me this time. I have slept better and felt safer and enjoyed taking her for walks. Moral of the story; get a dog.
8. Preparing meals ahead of time. Weeks went much smoother when I would plan meals and prep as much as I could for the week on Saturdays. Especially during our school weeks, it made our evening so much more enjoyable with most of dinner was already ready, I just needed to add sides.
9. Family coming to help. The timing of family visiting worked out perfectly. Every time something broke, someone was here to help me fix it. When I was just about to burn out on running things, they were here to swoop in.
10. Friends. Laurel would often invite us over for dinner or take the kids for an afternoon. I think what made it awesome is, it was a blessing to her too because all our kids play so well together. I didn't feel guilty or like I was a burden or she was just doing it to be nice. She was also willing to take several crazy trips with me.
Meredith would often text me and tell me to bring the kids over and insisted on me taking each kid individually on dates, when they were really struggling with daddy being gone. She brought Alison a calming CD of scripture music when she knew she was struggling to fall asleep (our kids handle stress by not sleeping). She also came over for coffee every Thursday morning. It was one hour a week I knew I could have an adult to talk to and it made a big difference in my world.
Julie and Andrea called every week and then flew all the way across the country at the point of the deployment when they knew there would be lull.
Jamie held my hand through lice. I'm not sure I would have survived without her guidance and encouragement.
I think keeping busy and blogging will get me through the next month...we'll see if it works :)