new year

Resolutions for a Year of Change in a MIlitary Family

An installment in the New York Times Deployment Diary

Two toddlers, painting a new picture at home for 2015.
Two toddlers, painting a new picture at home for 2015.

I’ve never cared much for New Year’s resolutions. Mostly, I subscribe to the mentality that if you want to make a change in your life, you don’t need a specific date to do it. This year, however, I’m giving it a chance, hoping that “if I write it down,” I’ll be more inclined to commit.

With deployment hanging over our heads, 2015 will come with incredible challenges for our marriage, our children and ourselves. My husband’s leaving will wreak havoc on so many aspects of our lives, and the anticipation of the actual departure is just as hard, if not more difficult. In the military spouse community, we talk about just wanting to rip off the Band-Aid, instead of slowly tearing it away, prolonging the inevitable pain deployment bears.

I have to believe my feelings about being a temporary single mother are synonymous with anyone in this situation. It’s incredibly daunting. And so, how to manage? The piece of advice I receive over and over is that in order to not just survive, but also to thrive, is to take care of myself first. To do that, I need to make some changes. This year, I am pledging to own my choices, invest in myself, and be more intentional with my time.

Perhaps it’s my daughter’s fourth birthday today that has thrust me into a near-constant reflective state, wandering through the coming complexities of life as a single working mother. Last week while my toddlers were painting, my 2-year-old spilled his glass of water, intended for cleaning brushes. As the colors on his paper quickly melted together, blurring the distinct patches of primary colors, my daughter gasped, “Beautiful!”

A beautiful mess. I think about that moment frequently, as I struggle to keep my work and home lives separate and balanced. Try as I might, they often bleed across the boundaries I’ve set, and I find myself in constant apology mode.

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With Deployment Looming, How Do You Measure a Year?

An installment in the New York Times Deployment Diary

“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred moments, so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?”

A favorite line, from a favorite song, in my favorite Broadway musical, “Rent.”

With two toddlers and a husband gone more than he’s home, so many of the lines in that song feel like they were written for me: “In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights and cups of coffee.” Given the chance to write a Navy wife version, I would add, “In ‘underways,’ in duty days, in flight delays, and constant uncertainties. In dinners alone, waiting by the phone, schedules unknown, but surreal opportunities.”

Credit T. T. Robinson

This time of year, this week between Christmas and New Year, is fraught with nostalgia and that “unmistakable melancholy that permeates the joy.” It’s hard to believe we celebrated our seventh anniversary this week, and next week we’ll celebrate our daughter’s fourth birthday. As memories often do, there exists a strange dichotomy between what feels like a million years ago and just yesterday.

I can’t help but think of the week before our baby girl was born. My husband had just returned from back-to-back deployments, encompassing the better part of two years. Although our home was in Guam, I wanted to deliver near my family in case he didn’t return from Iraq in time. Four years ago today, we sat alone on my parents’ couch in the Midwest, wishing we could be in Georgia with the rest of my family to watch my brother marry my beautiful sister-in-law. Instead, we ate Chinese delivery food and binge-watched episodes of “Parenthood,” hoping that would somehow prepare us for the adventures that lay ahead. It didn’t.

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