January 9, 2013

I Got This

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This post by Jax from The Harmon Squad was much-needed for me personally, 
and I hope it gives you some comfort, too. I don't label myself as such, but stepping back, 
I can see how I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist with some things. 
It's really freeing to have permission to relax a little, and that's what Jax writes about today.


I was pregnant with our second child when my husband joined the Army. Like every person that joins the Army, he left for several months right off the bat. And like everyone else, that meant I got left behind to hold down the fort.

It was hard, a trial by fire to be sure, but I did fine. Despite being pregnant and having a three year old I just pulled up my big girl pants and pushed through it. There were lots of unexpected twists (like there always are), but I would just say “whatever” and keep going.

This same pattern held through the first couple years of our life in the military. Lots of stuff would happen, dates would change, he would be gone longer than expected and I would just say “whatever” and keep pushing forward.

And I was proud of myself! I was impressed at how the military life and I were made for each other. There are lots of things that stink about this life, but I would get over it quickly and focus on the positive. “I got this” was my phrase.

Right now we are at our first duty station and out of all the places Rob could go, he got put in the brigade that has a testing mission. Which means no deployment (we have very mixed feelings about this fact), but TONS of field time. Like, he will leave for weeks at a time to go to the field several times a year.

I was doing just fine even when I got pregnant with our third child. I was beyond sick for most of the pregnancy, but managed to survive. I kept things together even when we unexpectedly got a new puppy when I was seven months pregnant. (she just showed up and we couldn't find any owners. Who gives up a husky puppy? Not us.) Even though a puppy was the last thing on earth I wanted, especially with a baby very close to being born, I just sucked it up and dealt with it.

THEN our third child was born. All our visiting family left, and here I was. TOTALLY OVERWHELMED. And here I am, five months later, STILL totally overwhelmed. I hear all the time “You are amazing!” “I don’t know how you do it!” etc., etc when the guys are in the field. And all I have to say to them is “I have NO idea.”

Well, I am going to tell you how I do it:

We don’t leave the house. Like, ever. This is made a lot easier by the fact that I home school our boys. The only time we leave is to run errands (which are all grouped together so we only leave ONCE) or to go to the dog park.

We eat a LOT of cereal. Some days we eat it for all three meals. I’ve started buying those giant bags of cereal because we go through it so fast.

My children will go DAYS without bathing. Basically, they get a bath when I notice their hair is starting to look slimy.

On days that don’t go so smoothly we will watch School House Rock and consider that school for the day.

I no longer volunteer. For anything. I feel bad, especially when they really need people to help with fundraisers and stuff, but I just can’t do it at this point in my life. When I am not feeding a baby every two hours I will reconsider it.

My car has several inches of trash on the floor. It will probably reach a foot before it gets cleaned out.

Laundry never gets folded. It gets cleaned, gets put in a heap, and we fish out what we need from that heap. This continues until it’s time to do laundry again, and the cycle repeats.

We are late to EVERYTHING. Everything! I feel terrible about it, but I think people are beginning to expect it of me.

I look pretty rough all the time. From my super dark circles under my eyes, to air dried hair (not a good look for me), to no makeup (ever), and this lovely postpartum phase where clothes don’t ft me I am quite the sight.

If we actually see anyone, it is always at a location that is not my house. I do not want to subject anyone else to the chaotic state it is in at all times.

I stay up waaay late every night. I hate doing it, but it is the only way to get anything done. It is during this time I prepare lessons, sweep the floor, pay bills, blog, etc. NOTHING gets done while the kids are awake.

The filing system I have employed for the last half of 2012 is the big plastic bag under my desk. Everything that needs to be filed gets shoved in it, to be actually filed at a later date. That will probably be in a year or two. (for now I just rummage through it if I need to find something)

Whenever anyone asks me “So what did you guys do this week?” I never have an answer. My life is a blur of just trying to survive. I know we do stuff, but in retrospect I can’t remember what that is. Thank goodness I take pictures, otherwise I will be an old lady and have no idea what happened during the years my children were young.

Basically, my life right now can be summed up by this little exchange that happened at the dog park one day:

Random lady: “You have your arms full, don’t you?” (as I have the baby in the sling, my two year old running away, the six year old yelling at the two year old for running away, me wrestling with our sixty pound puppy [I’m 100 pounds] as she tries to get into the dog park while I’m trying to go in the opposite direction to get the two year old, also while trying to shut the gate the two year old opened before running away)

Me: “You think?”

Ok, so I didn’t really say that.

Me: “Yes, I do.”

But at the end of the day, I am happy. I love my kids and that darn dog, and our life. I groan out of frustration frequently, and have learned to both ask and take help when offered, and you better believe the husband pulls his weight when he is home. But every time things get really hard I remember some advice I got at the beginning of our military career:

“It’s ok to stay at home in your pj’s and snuggle all day. This phase won’t last forever.”

It was said in response to Max and I dropping out of Joy School due to my morning sickness, but it is applicable to so many situations. There are so many good things in this world: things to do, to enrich your life, and on and on. But that doesn't mean they are all good for you. I had major mommy guilt over eliminating something that was good for my child because I couldn't handle it. But this person put it into perspective for me. I may feel like a total spaz right now, and we may be missing out on a lot of good things because I can’t do it all right now. But it will pass. They will grow and get more independent, certain things will get easier, and I may start to feel like “I got this” again. But for now all that really matters is that my husband and children know that they are loved.

So while my husband may return from his time in the field to a very messy house, he is greeted at the door by three very energetic little men, one extremely excited ball of fur, and one very tired wife who is thanking the heavens he is finally home.

And maybe next time that tired wife will be wearing something a little more attractive than sweatpants…

Jax and family. Make sure you also visit her photography site!

8 kind comments from you:

Jessica Lynn said...

Goodness I loved this post. Thanks for being real and honest and showing how life really is. I'm pregnant with my first baby and my husband is deployed. I constantly wonder what it'll be like when he leaves again and if I'm pregnant again, next time with a toddler running around. I can't imagine how I'll do it, but I know life will go on...somehow, because you're right. We got this. It's the only way to keep on keepin' on.

Stacy Fiore said...

So so true. When the husband is gone, I rarely leave the house and am in the same place: survival mode!

Jenn said...

Ahh so refreshing to hear that someone else says "screw it" and feeds kids cereal and skips baths and doesn't go anywhere. I feel like I have so many friends that somehow manage to "do it all" and it makes me tired just hearing about it. LOL Light at the end of the tunnel- ONE DAY we will get out! ;)

Chantal said...

Love this post and Jax!

greaterexp said...

Let's face it. Much of the time we worry so much about "window dressing." We work really hard at doing things that make us look better to people outside of our family than we do at just loving our family. All those other things, like a clean house and perfectly groomed kids, can come later if you have time and think they're important. Thanks for being honest.

Kathryn B said...

Oh I had many of those "we didn't leave the house for days" day during my husband's deployment. There is nothing wrong with cereal or chicken nuggets for dinner multiple days in a row. :) ya gotta do what ya gotta do to survive :)

jax from the harmon squad said...

Thanks so much for letting me air it all out Erika! :) And I'm glad I'm not the only one failing miserably at perfection! Although I'm not going to lie, I'm still a little nervous someone might call CPS on me and my slimy children...

Sarah said...

Aaaah, I love this post!!! Even with one munchkin I sometimes feel totally overwhelmed and end up spending half the day or more in PJs. My house is usually a mess. The Christmas decorations are still up in near mid-January because I don't have the time or energy (or help currently) to do it! It's nice to know that there are other moms in the same boat! :)

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