Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Counting Down

I've been here before, the final days before Joey comes home.  This last week always feels simultaneously busy and boring.  I run around finishing up projects and getting the house extra, extra clean.  But then I also feel like there are moments where I sit and watch the seconds on my countdown app tick by one at a time.

It's no secret that Joey's gone a lot for work.  It ends up being a little more than 6 months of the year.  

I'm going to pause here for a moment.  There are certain topics in life that get a response on repeat.  When you're single, you're asked if you're dating anyone.  When you're dating someone, people asked if you're getting married.  When you're married, people ask when you're going to have kids.  When you have one child, you're asked if you'll have another.  9 month pregnant mommas are told they're about to pop.  Parents of big families are asked, "Are they ALL yours?"  People going through times of grief are told others can't imagine what they are going through (grab a tissue and read this blog by my friend McCayla).  When we first found out about Aurelia I was told  that God wouldn't give me more than I could handle.  I get asked daily if the girls are twins.  Sometimes I wish I had prerecorded answers.  Sometimes it makes me wonder how many times I give people repeat responses.

Concerning Joey's work schedule, people say they don't know how we do it. They say the time that he was gone went by so fast.  They ask if the girls miss him.  And they ask how much longer he's going to do this job.  Addressing these questions in this space won't stop them from being asked.  And I don't mind the questions at all.  This is just part of my effort to share life:

- I don't know how we do it either.  I truly believe it is the grace of God given in the moments we need it most, like when I'm up for hours at a time in the middle of the night, or when Joey is looking through the photos of the girls growing while he's away, or when I'm planning a first birthday party that will be celebrated without Daddy, or when I'm learning how to seal my foundation and fighting the thought that this is something Joey should do, or when I'm rushing my child to ER.  Life doesn't stop when Joey is home or when he is gone.  There are really great days and there are really hard days.

- I don't do it alone.  I have so much help from family and friends.  When we first started doing this, I didn't know how to ask for help or how to accept it.  Now I call in the reserves and ask people to help with meals and childcare.  I have friends that come over when I just need a conversation that doesn't involve Elmo.  I have people I can call anytime day or night when I need listening ear or someone to help care for a sick kiddo.  I have learned the joys of having a community of support.

- Time goes by fast.  That's all there is to it.  Some rotations feel like a year, some feel like he just left.  

- Sometimes I really don't like this job.  It's awful that he's gone so much.  The weeks before and after he leaves are rough on all of us.  There's always a transition period when he first gets home, and sometimes the transition is rocky.  The girls miss him like crazy.  I miss him like crazy.  

-Sometimes I really love this job.  The plus side is the almost 6 months Joey doesn't have to work each year.  We get to go on so many adventures.  We get to share in full time parenting.  I usually don't have to cook at all.  Have I mentioned we're going to Peru for our 10 year anniversary?  Have I mentioned we're taking a HUGE family trip in December?  More on those later.  These are things we wouldn't be able to do if Joey didn't work a rotational schedule.  And I get to stay home with the girls.  That's great too.  

- I wish we had an answer for how much longer we are going to do this.  It's been 3 years now.  And I think we've all about reached our limit.  We're hoping for just one or two more rotations (really hoping for just one more).  And then we don't know.  I'm confident it will be something awesome.

And one quick final thought.  Joey and I work really hard on our relationship when he's here and when he's gone.  We're learning how to have a growing relationship which I believe is a life long lesson. And  I live for the moment when he bounds up the stairs at the airport.  It's like falling in love for the first time again.  And watching the girls react to Daddy being home is priceless.

And now I'm going to go stare at my countdown app until the girls wake up from their naps.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Explanation

I would love to begin this post something like this:

Yowza!  Life has been so busy!  I haven't had a second to sit down and write.

I would love to say that the reason there has been nothing written and nothing to read is a result of busy summer schedules.  Or that I've been working out in the yard.  Or that I've been reading hundreds of books.  Or that I've been writing elsewhere.  Or that I've been working on my massive blog revamp.  Or that I've had my hands full with solo parenting while Joey's away.  Or that I've had so many things going on that I just don't have the time.

All of that is true, by the way.  Summer IS busy.  I've decided to be a good neighbor and not have the yard on the street that makes people question if the house attached to it is abandoned.  And I've been devouring books (get to the Library and pick up Honor by Elif Shafak right now!).   I have submitted an article here and there.  The blog revamp has been in the works for the last, oh, two years.  And Joey gets home SO soon which means he has been gone SO long.  Yes, life is busy, this season is busy.

But that's not why I haven't been writing.  You see, I am a firm believer that I choose how to spend my time.  Somedays I work in the yard all naptime.  Somedays I workout (not often enough).  Some nights I curl up with a good book.  Some nights I veg out and watch PramFace.  Some dinners I spend time on a nutritious meal.  Some dinners Curious George babysits so I can quickly throw together Mac N Cheese.  And whether it's conscious or not, those are all choices.  When I say, "Oh, I don't have time to (fill in the blank)," it's because I've chosen to do something else with my time.  I can't say that I don't have time to write.  I have to be honest and say that I have chosen not to write.

And here's where I get authentic and confess a little piece of my heart: I haven't written because I've felt a little bit like a failure.  Yes, I've had a few (like 3) articles published in my lifetime.  But the number I have submitted and had rejected is far greater.  And yes, people have told me they like my writing (if that's you, thank you. . . I needed that).  But that little voice in my head convinces me that saying, "I like you're blog" is just something people say when they know you blog.  I've felt frustrated by my inability to pull the trigger and switch my blog to Wordpress, such a little thing that seems insurmountable to me.  I've felt nervous about the fact that part of writing real stuff is being vulnerable.  I've seen my writing become more and more Momblog and less and less Julie.  Disclaimer: I, Julie, am a mom, and therefore write about motherhood from time to time.  And I know so many creative people who are doing amazing things like writing books and screenplays, making music, living out their dreams, changing the world; do I really have anything to contribute?

You know what snapped me out of my rut? Anthropologie.com.  Yep.  I was chosing to waste some time on the internet instead of writing (or sleeping, cooking, reading, and other useful ventures) and came across this box of pencils:

Contemporary Desk Accessories

What would I attempt if I knew I could not fail?  When I first poised myself that question I thought of running a marathon, and then I thought that maybe a half marathon would be more my style, or maybe a 5k, or how about a mile?  Maybe I'll just run to the end of the street and call it good.  I realized that I undermine my ability to grow by not attempting things I fear I will fail at.  If I knew I couldn't fail, I'd snatch up one of those pencils and scratch out words that have been milling around inside of me waiting to be let out.  I want to to write more, and better, and different.  When I think of writing outside of the lens of success vs. failure, I have a lot I want to say.  Who knows?  Some of it might be worth reading.  And if no one reads it but me?  Well, I'm learning to be ok with that too.

Success is relative.  It is what we make of the mess we have made of things.
T.S. Eliot