Five Whole Years


What is it about the fives that really makes us think?
I mean, I know I don't miss an anniversary without thinking, but there's something about intervals of five that are so profound.

Five years.
Five ridiculously long, painful years.

I wanted to cling onto you that night. Well, let's back up. Let's start from the beginning. We knew it was going to happen from day one. But then the rumors got closer and closer. You were supposed to go in August, but that was to Iraq and for some reason someone didn't want the unit going to Iraq. I guess there wasn't enough action there? There were rumors for the reason, but we'll stay away from those now. So, it became the waiting game. You'd leave for training upon training and the deployment wouldn't come and at one point, dropping you off for training I said, "I kind of wish this was just the deployment. Not that I want you to go, but I want to get it over with."

All I wanted was to get it over with.

Anyway. We (the families) would be told things like, "24 Hour Standby," and "Leave at a Moment's Notice." It started to get more specific; "Don't expect your Marine to be here until Halloween."

Halloween came, you were a cowboy and I was a leopard. We went to a friend's house for a Halloween party and had so much fun. I was hormonal though, and we got in an argument that night. We made up because it was stupid. I'm sorry I was so damn emotional.

Then we heard, "Don't expect your Marine to be here for Thanksgiving." We went to Maryland because my mom had planned a surprise baby shower. It was such a great time. I think you were the most involved dad-to-be I'd ever seen at a baby shower. You handed me the gifts, smiled in the photos, and generally played along.

We had planned to spend Christmas in Florida with your family. At the rate things were going, of course you were going to be here for Christmas, they kept warning us with no consequence. It wasn't really going to happen, was it?

Things were changing in Afghanistan. The command over there were asking for more troops. The president was stalling on his decision. December 1st there was a press conference. He announced he would indeed be sending more troops (although not the number that was requested...) and we knew immediately you would be in that surge.

December 4th was a regular day. We went out to eat at Golden Corral. I was eating banana pudding, a delicious combination of banana flavored goo, Nilla wafers, and whipped cream. Your phone rang right as I was about to take a bite. I tried to listen. It was the sergeant from the armory. I heard a lot of "yes, sergeants," spoon hovering mid-bite. What was happening? You ended the call. You looked me in the eye and said, "I have PT Monday morning and then... Tuesday afternoon." I crinkled my brow... "Why are you PTing Tuesday afternoon?"
"No babe. I'm leaving Tuesday afternoon."

The spoon remained midair as the tears slid down my cheeks, salty paths of the composure I could no longer hold. There was only one place to which you'd be leaving. You were worried I wasn't okay. We had taken separate vehicles and you were so concerned about me driving home. I assured you I'd be fine and off we went to our little duplex in Richlands; you following, always watching to make sure I was alright.

We decided to blow up the air mattress that night, the nice king sized double stacked one we borrowed from my parents, and put it in the living room. We watched movies and cuddled so tight I briefly thought of crawling into your skin so I never had to be without you. How was I going to survive without you?

Four days. We had four days to prepare for the inevitable. You went through your packing lists and I double checked them behind you. "Where is your side arm holster?!" I looked for that damn thing for hours. It was missing one piece. And I knew without that one piece the world would fall apart. "Babe, I can rig it up and it'll be fine." I made you show me. It looked fine. I questioned your packing style, shouldn't you have the most necessary items at the top of your sea bag? You laughed it off and I'm sorry I was such a pain in the ass. I just needed you to be ready. We joked about how you weren't allowed to go on convoys. About how you'd get there and dig a hole in the ground with a bubble over it and just wait out your 7 months. It was funny, but really I was terrified.

We went and picked out the final colors for the house we'd bought pre-construction. Blue with wine colored shutters. Countertops, the shape in the front door, carpet styles... we were so glad we got to do that together. We went to our plot, talking about all the things we would do in our brand new house when you got back.

We had a Christmas. We went out and bought a little tree and some bulbs, put it up and decorated it. We did presents. I had bought you new pajama pants, you loved pajama pants, and a new digital camera. My mom tried to get the camera to us in time before you left but it didn't, so I gave you my own. I wrapped a picture of the pajama pants (that I'd left in Maryland, thinking I had time) and a picture of the camera in cereal boxes. You drew me a card. Inside there was a picture of a blue house with red shutters, a woman, a Marine, and a little girl. You wrote, "My promise to you." You were gifting me our dreams, our life together.



You called your family and said you were leaving. Your mom and Emilie came up and we had a great visit. You got promoted that weekend. I was super proud. You let me pin you. I tried not to slap you too hard, but enough for you to feel it.
                                      


Decemeber 8th came. We loved and it was so ridiculously hard to walk out of that house, knowing I'd return without you. It was such a beautiful day, the sun was shining  and it was relatively warm but my spirits couldn't match. Lady Gaga's Bad Romance came on the radio and we laughed and laughed about such a ridiculous song. We went to the 7 Day Store for some last minute items. An officer was there and he welcomed you home, you told him you were just leaving and he told you he'd see you soon then.
We had to go in early because you were an armorer and you had to hand out the weapons and all that other stuff. It was a special day so I got to go in. I talked out the window to the Marines in line and got a good scolding for that. Your sergeant told us it was stupid to think you'd never convoy, I let him know I was aware of that, it was just our joke.

We went to the staging area. I didn't want to let you go. People were taking pictures, many women looked so presentable with their makeup. I hadn't worn makeup that day because I knew I'd cry and it would run down my face.

There was a lot of standing around and socializing. We were just killing time. You spoke to your daughter. You told her how much you loved her, and told her to take care of mommy, you promised her you'd see her soon.

All of a sudden, you were called to FORM UP. I watched you walk away, a quick kiss but no real goodbye, and join the rest of the Marines. You were spoken to, then told to head to the bus. I watched you walk toward the bus. Everyone was walking away. Could I go? Could I follow? I would've folded up into your pocket if I could, just to stay by your side. A couple wives started walking that way and I did this skid/walk/run maneuver to get to you. I wanted to remain professional and composed and show you I was strong enough to handle this. I didn't want you to know I was falling apart inside.

I caught up to you. Our last kiss. Our last hug. Our last spoken I love yous where we could look in each others' eyes. I watched you walk up the steps. You took a window seat. You signed that you loved me, the way we would, and I watched the tears slip down your cheeks. You didn't want to go, I think you would've folded me into your pocket if you could. What was I without you? What were you without me? I Love You sign language, and tears, and then the buses rolled. I couldn't look away. I stood there, watching until there was nothing left to see. I wanted to fall apart but I wouldn't allow it. I tried to detach.

I numbly walked to the FRO's office where a few of my friends were. I returned the FRO's coat. She'd let me borrow it as the sun sank and I started to shiver. Your sister called you, I had your phone because it was against the rules to take it. Hearing your ringtone ripped another piece from my heart.

I went to a friend's house, as I wasn't ready to greet an empty house. They made me eat dinner. They reminded me I had someone else to think about, growing inside me, who needed nourishment.
I drove home to an empty duplex. The tiny house that had felt so cramped was now far too large, an echoing mansion mirroring the emptiness inside me. Baby furniture had arrived on the porch and I had to wiggle it inside without lifting it, my huge belly bumping it the whole way. It was my first task alone.

I paced the halls. I didn't want to be alone, but I didn't want to be with anyone else or in any other place. Our home was both a prison and a sanctuary.

As I lay on the couch, unable to lay in our bed without you that first night, drifting to sleep, I thought of when I'd see you next. In 7 months, you'd be back in my arms, and my loneliness would be relieved. I could make it. I'd be alright. You needed me to be strong and I would be what you needed.

That was the last time I saw you, soul present in body, on this earth. The last time I felt the warmth radiating from your skin, the last time I felt the tingle of your kiss, the last time I felt safe and whole.
I look to my right and there you sit. Your body in a small wooden box. I look to the Heavens and there you live. Your soul, watching down on me reminding me that I will be safe and whole once more.

Old Fogey

There are so many times that it smacks me right in the face… I’m old.
Ok, maybe not old, old, but I’m certainly getting there.

I’m in grad school these days, so I have to go to a college campus twice a week. The first time I went there, to meet with my advisor, I looked around at all the college students and I just thought how small and young they looked. Did I look so young? I thought I was grown back then…

I had class tonight at 630. It was raining and around 50 degrees. I was wearing my awesome camo double lined hoodie, zipped up, head down, walking with purpose. I look up, and there is this college gal in a short sleeve shirt (with a fashionable scarf, of course), hugging herself and shivering as she hoofed it to the parking garage. And do you know what I thought?

I can’t believe you didn’t bring a coat.

Oh. My. Oldness.

When did I bring a coat in college? Especially when I looked cute. I immediately flashed back to New Years Eve, nearly 7 years ago. 2007 into 2008. My roommate and I had searched all day for a dress to wear to this party in the city. Yes, we were procrastinators, and yes our selection was limited, but we were going to look fancy regardless! I found this shiny black dress that I thought, even then, looked kind of like a trash bag, but it was shiny and black and short, and my options were limited. So of course this tiny trash bag ensemble became my New Years Eve attire. In Baltimore. In January. And hell no, I didn’t have a coat!

Finding a cab in Baltimore on New Years Eve is like finding all the matching socks for my 4 year old… impossible. Unless you’re lucky or you know someone. We waited somewhere around two hours before we finally broke down and called a friend's mom to scoop us up. And thankful we were, because we were those girls in the tiny dresses, outside in January, arms hugged tightly around ourselves shivering.

And tonight my first thought was that she should have a coat.
Man, I am such a mom. And I am officially getting old…



In other news, if you miss me tons and tons here at Little Pink, I have been doing some writing over with Highly Offensive Mom at ManyKind Regards (in fact, my newest post went up today). It’s such an awesome project that I am so excited to be a part of, so if you’ve got a minute, head on over there and check us out, leave some love, and be excited to see me writing more than a couple times a month ;)

The Winter Time Blues

What is it about winter that seems to steal all my joy? There's tons of good stuff that happens in winter, all the good holidays are here (including my birthday) so I should be excited right?
There are a ton of hard dates that happen in winter, but I really feel like it's more than that.
I'm at a point where I have to literally drag my body out of bed in the morning. I can't focus, I'm always tired, I'm irritable. Damn you winter - you are draining and awful!

Things have been going well, besides my opening this post with complaining. Grad school is amazing and I am happy there. I love how much writing I have been doing with it and I seriously wish I could be doing more. I'm sorry that it seems to have taken me from here. Work is going well, I got a new job within the same company and I'm really enjoying it. It's a tech writing job so it's finally kind of in my field. Woot. I'm also writing over at Many Kind Regards with Highly Offensive Mom (perfect for me, or what?!) So if you get a chance go check them out and leave me some love over there too.

A is doing well, she is such a diva and has so much personality. She's been talking a lot about her dad lately, which I love. In fact, a few weeks ago she asked me something about when he was coming back. I tried to gently break it to her that he wouldn't be, that that simply wasn't possible as much as we might want it to be. She said, "Well mommy, the people who die are always with you as long as they are in your heart." Schooled. Again. By a 4 year old. She's the best. Speaking of school, she's doing awesomely in her Pre K program. She can spell words now. SPELL. WORDS! It's pretty exciting. Maybe we have another little writer on our hands? She is certainly an observant person, which gets me in trouble sometimes, but for the most part she's my tiny best friend and that's how I like it.

I wish I had more thrilling things to report, but I've missed y'all and I've missed my little space on the interwebs so it's just a check in. I'm sure I'll have something more thrilling shortly ;)

What Are We Doing To Our Future?

"I believe the children are our future..." Mm, sing it Whitney!

So. This past weekend, I took A to her bestest buddy's 5th birthday party. It was Frozen themed and super cute. There were crafts and food, and even an appearance by Elsa, (which we had to miss so don't ask A about it). I am good friends with her buddy's parents, so I was chatting with them a bit when I inquired into something I had noticed upon walking up. There were a lot more kids here than in years previous. I asked my friends about it, wondering if that was just part of kids growing older and going to school or what. They then told me that their daughter's teacher had told them they had to invite everyone in the class.

Here is where the record scratches and the party goes silent.

Umm. Come again?? Yup, they couldn't bring their invites to school (aka the easiest place to bring the invites for distribution since half the time you've never seen the kids' parents outside of school) unless the entire class of around 20 kids received one. They went on to say that it wasn't really a big deal because their daughter probably would have wanted everyone anyway, but it really got me thinking...

What in the world are we teaching our kids? Okay, I get it. You don't want to hurt any 5 year old's feelings because, let's face it, they can really make you feel bad when they cry. But seriously. I just can't get on board with the "Life is fair for everyone" crap. Yup, crap. Life isn't fair. It certainly sucks sometimes, but it's something we all have to face. I can remember a number of parties I would have wanted to attend but didn't get invited to growing up. Guess what? I was disappointed, sure. But I survived. All these fairness rules, in my humble opinion, are teaching our kids to be entitled little jerks. 

Oh gosh, did I just say that our sweet angels could ever be jerks? Yup, I did. And I'm saying we are the cause of it if we keep this up. These sorts of things are teaching children that just because they want it, they can have it. Where is the lesson in that?! They are learning to be entitled, they're learning they don't have to work for things. They are not learning how to deal with disappointment, or hurt feelings, or being left out, or not getting what they want - all of which happens in real life.

Not only do we have to invite every kid to the party, no teams lose, everyone has to share...
Every team wins?! What the hell?? Nope. In life, there are winners and losers. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It happens to all of us. I lost student council secretary in 5th grade. I was super disappointed. I lived. I tried again in high school. I lost that too. I have definitely learned how to lose. I've also won some stuff at some point, all of which are escaping me at the moment (see, the losing really does shape us!) Our kids need to learn how to lose AND how to win. They need to learn how to lose and cope and deal with their feelings, they need to learn how to win graciously.

Everyone has to share. Ok I get it. Sharing is caring and all that character counts jazz. But seriously, kids shouldn't have to share everything. Sometimes, kids need to learn it's okay to say no about a special item or something they aren't done using. And the kid who wants it needs to learn to respect no. That either that thing belongs to that person and he's not getting it, or he needs to patiently wait his turn. He's not entitled to what that other kid has. A has things that I don't make her share. I'm sorry parents, if you or your kid are offended by that, but there are things that are special to her (or to me) that I don't require her to share. It's not everything and sure, I intervene if she's not sharing at all, or if she's hoarding toys, or just being generally selfish, but I also respect her personal boundaries. She has learned the other way, too. If another kid doesn't want to share, well, she has to deal with it. It's called coping and it's important because life isn't fair. At all.

Let's just look at some of this from the perspective of adulthood. Winning and losing. Pretty obvious. If there were no winners or losers, we'd have no presidents, no scholarships, and the Superbowl would be really lame. Winners. Losers. Real life.
As far as sharing... well, if you have to share everything, then I would like to use your Lamborghini for the day good sir. New iPhone6? Don't mind if I do. I mean come on. Sure, it's cool to borrow things from friends or family, certain things, but there are limits. That's the point I'm making here.

I think as a society, we've gotten soft. Come on, now, I'm not that old. Things can't have changed that much... but they have! I love my little girl more than anything in the world. And I want to give her everything she wants in this world and keep her from all pain. But I know, unfortunately, that that is just not realistic. It is my responsibility as her parent to make sure she doesn't turn into an asshole. We aren't just raising kids, we are raising people. They are one day going to be adults, and what was ingrained in them in childhood is going to carry over into their adulthood. So let's teach them how to cope and deal with inevitable disappointment, how to respect others' space, how to work hard and earn things, how to be caring and curious and polite and generous but be just tough enough. I don't want to thicken her skin into rough calluses, I just want her to be just tough enough. It's a fine line to walk, I know, but right now, I think the general way it's being handled is teetering dangerously off that line and into a very bad place.

What say you? Let's have some open communication on this. I'm interested in what you have to say. Respect others' opinions while standing your ground and let's have a dialogue on preparing our children for the big, scary world out there and whether or not this is helping.
 

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