Sunday, May 24, 2009

Will I ever get used to this?

I ask myself this every time Andrew leaves. He is currently on his 11th (I think) 10-day trip. The first few were certainly the hardest in terms of saying good-bye. We would hug for the last time, and then I would watch him walk out the door. Inevitably, I would have tears streaming down my face as I watched him get in the car and drive off. Immediately, I started the adventure with a prayer. I begged for strength to sustain me until my other half got home. And inevitably, I would get the strength I needed. Of course, there have been hard moments - or days - but I have felt undeniably strengthened during my single-mom sojourns.

Last trip just may have been the hardest for me. We were coming off a long period (almost 4 weeks) of Andrew being home, and I think I had gotten used to having him around again. The whole time he was gone, I just kept thinking about the upcoming deployment, and it loomed over my head like a thundercloud. I thought, "If I am having a hard time with a 10-day trip, how in the world am I ever going to survive 120 days?" The weather was gloomy and gray, and I found myself depressed. I cried multiple times every day. I felt weak and helpless.

When he finally got home, all was well again. It was to be his last trip for the deployment, and I had my heart set on having him home for the next month. We planned a trip to celebrate his birthday. Then, on Tuesday, he came home with bad news. He told me over the phone while driving home.

"Honey," he said, and then paused for an abnormally long time. Finally, "I'm going on a trip."

I laughed, certain he was joking. "Yeah, a trip with me. Of course you are."

More silence. "No, I'm serious. I'm going on a trip."

Of course, I broke down crying. Oh, the injustice! How could they do this to us? My life is horrible, it's so unfair. Etc., etc. I mentally cancelled our weekend trip with a heart full of anger. He had only been home 6 days. Would we ever live a normal life?

The night before he left, on Thursday, I decided to go on our weekend trip after all. I would - once again - celebrate his birthday without him. I had a place to stay and nothing holding me back at home, so off we went, just a few hours after Andrew left.

The trip was fun. It wasn't the awesomest thing I've ever done, as it was my first time travelling with both kids alone. But we had a good time, and we survived. But the turning point in my heart was when we got back home yesterday afternoon. I walked in the door and instantly felt overwhelmingly happy to be back home. Even without Andrew, this is my HOME. And I love it. I love everything about my home. I felt strong for having taken on a trip by myself. And I felt...normal.
Andrew being gone is getting more normal to me. And you know what? That's okay. Of course there is not an hour that goes by that I don't wish he was home. Crawling into bed, wishing he was there to talk to. Seeing the kids do hilarious things and feeling sad he is missing it. But it's normal. This is what we have chosen to do, and slowly but surely, I am getting used to it. I know there will still be hard days, and I know this deployment won't be easy by a long shot. But I can do it. I will never stop missing him. But I think I will get used to this after all.


Watts Family said...

You are one strong girl, keep it up.

AnnEE said...

You are my freaking hero. For real, Steph. If I wasn't in school, I'd book a flight SO FAST to hang out with you for a few days while Andrew's gone. Hey, maybe I will during my next break...I'm pretty sure he'll still be gone. Can you imagine how much fun we'd have?

Annie said...

You really ARE amazing. I'm not sure how you do it!

Cindi said...

Stephanie- I know it is a totally different situation, and I know that these trips and the upcoming deployment are challenging but maybe a small insght might bring a little peace to you. Perry served in church callings that took him out of the home most nights and most of Sundays since Chanel was one years old. In fact his first Bishopbric call came while I was in the hospital after a misscarriage and a proceedure to rectify it. Many times I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, lonely, and just plain sad. When I felt like that I would have to think of all the good he was doing. Even though many of the things seemed mundane and maybe even unnecessary to me, I remember that good men were needed in whatever capacity to help the world be better. I just happened to marry one that the Lord trusted to do his work. I have thought about that with Andrew many times. When Perry was encouraging him to follow his dreams, truthfully as a mother it was a little challenging for me to be as supportive. One day an overwhelming feeling, and I am sure you have experienced it, I thought, America needs good, outstanding, God fearing men like Andrew to protect the rights and priviledges that I take for granted every day. As Andrew leaves you each time my heart hurts for you and the loneliness that you experience, but I know that Andrew's presence wherever he is is felt in greater ways than just a job. He is making a real difference in our world. I love you for being so supportive to Andrew, for loving him enough to allow him to do what he loves, and for loving your children so much that you will always miss their dad and will give them the love and nurturing they need while Andrew is away. Thanks Stephanie for being the wonderful wife, mother, daughter, a person that you are!

Charity said...

Steph, I love you. I just teared up reading your mother-in-laws(?) comment. Soo true. I am a firm believer that my brothers were meant to be in the military at this time risking their lives for God and Country- and Andrew too. Thank you for your sacrifices for all of us. Luv you!

Ali said...

First of all,

You look stunning in that photo. Motherhood looks GREAT on you and so does that hair cut.

You impress me daily. I wish, I wish I could send myself to Hawaii with you.

Kara said...

I wish i could be more like you girl. You keep life in perspective all of the time. If I didn't have to be the sugar momma and work I would totally come be with you too!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts you are an inspiration to all who know you! love you my nauvoo buddy!!!!!

Chanel said...

I know from the last 11 years of dealing with Rodney's travels that it will never be totally easy on anyone when they leave, or come home for that matter. You will get used to having them around and having their help, and then they will leave. Then you will get used to being independent and on your own schedule, and they will come back. It can make life a bit challenging at times- but you are totally right- it becomes normal and your life. I have to be honest when I say there was a time that I worried about how you would hold up when his training was over and his real career began, but I have been SO impressed by the strength you have found, the independence you have displayed, and the INCREDIBLE mother and wife you have become. I can see in your words and in your face how pleased you are with the person you have become and are still becoming. It takes a special breed to be a strong committed military wife, and you are of that wonderful breed. I am so proud of you, and grateful to you for all you do for my wonderful brother and those 2 cute kiddos that have stolen my heart. You really are an inspiration to me- I hope you know that!