To all my friends…in real life friends, and blog friends. A few weeks ago I wrote about how my sister has been diagnosed with cancer for a third time. Please click here to meet her. She is nothing short of amazing, and I am so honored to be her baby sister.
This past year, Sarge has been away a lot. I mean, really…a lot. A week here, two weeks there, four days up north, three days down south. Whatever it was…he was gone a lot. Some of it was boring. He was in Grayling for much of it, and really…there’s not much to do in Grayling. But some of it was fun as well as work. He spent over two weeks in Germany. He spent a few days at a conference that took place in a golf resort. Wherever he went, it was at least a change of scenery. A change of pace. A new adventure. And while he was gone, I was here. Packing lunches and doing laundry and making dinner and taxi-ing kids from place to place. Did I complain? Well, actually…yes, a little bit. But I tried to console myself with the thought that it was much better than it was when he was in Iraq. Fifteen months was hard…two weeks is nothing. And I’m not worried about his safety or his life. I can do this. Right? Besides, it was just a fluke that he had to be gone that much. Next year would be much better.
Today, I found out what is planned for him so far…when he has to be gone in 2009. The list is not complete…there are often other trips that come up here and there. But his tentative schedule takes him away from home not only a weekend a month, but also for a total of nine weeks, May through August. Which means that with all the weddings I’m coordinating in May and June, and him gone so often through August, that’s our summer. Our summer is already gone, and it’s not even 2009 yet. Do you know how depressing that is??
For the most part, I’m used to it. I’m used to the Army not giving a damn whether or not our family actually gets to spend time together. I’m used to doing this whole “mom” thing by myself a good portion of the time. I’m used to “goodnight, Daddy” phone calls and not talking for a couple of days in a row and handling it all on my own. You get used to it. But let me be clear. It’s not fair.
I do okay for a few months. I keep the home fires burning and work 25 hours a week and make dinner and make sure everyone has clean underwear and socks. My kitchen floors aren’t always mopped and the bathrooms aren’t always spotless, but I do okay. But after a while, I need to get away for a little bit. I’m not talking a month in the Bahamas. I’m talking a couple of nights in a hotel at least an hour away. A change of scenery, where I can relax without thinking about all the things I should be doing. A little bit of time where I can slow down and have a new adventure and just be ME for a while without all the other stuff getting in the way.
Am I jealous of his travel? You bet I am. He gets to go to Germany again! He gets to be all by himself in a hotel room and have complete silence. The crazy thing is, he doesn’t even really like it. He doesn’t like to be by himself for a whole evening. He gets bored in a silent room. Grrr.
So I have decided. If he’s going to be gone much of the summer, I am planning a trip this Spring. I’m not sure where I’ll go, or what I’ll do. I don’t know how it will work out. I’m not sure if I can find a girlfriend or two to go with me or not. Regardless, I’m making it happen. Who’s in???
1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Write 7 random things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post.
4. Pass on the tag.
1. I really don’t like the color pink.
2. Every morning, I drink a cup of Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar in it from my favorite Tinkerbell mug.
3. It upsets me much more than it probably should that we can only make four “licenses” for MarioCart for the Wii. Since I’m the one to play the least, I don’t get a license and have to use someone else’s when I play. That sucks.
4. When I find a new song I really like, I get a little obsessed. I put it on my iPod and listen to it really loud about 20 times in a row. Seriously. Ask my husband.
5. I really miss my friend Stephanie. I haven’t talked to her in way too long and even though we’ve emailed a bit, it’s not the same as hanging out. Hey, Steph, want to meet for lunch on Friday??
6. I have a thing for green purses. I have about 10 of them.
7. I kind of want another tattoo. But my husband says that since I have more than him, I can’t get any more until he gets another one. I think that means I’m done getting tattoos. Bummer.
Today I drove past a church billboard that said, “Happiness is not a destination to arrive at, it’s a way to make the journey.” My first reaction to the message was, of course, to cringe at the terrible grammar. But then it got me thinking. We spend so much time in our lives trying to be happy. We read about how to get happy. We buy better stuff. We do ourselves up just right so we can feel better about ourselves so we can be happy. We try for more power, more toys, more money, more friends, more of whatever it is that we think will do the trick. We strive, our whole lives, to be happy.
Next month, I’ll be 35. The number doesn’t bother me, but I don’t feel 35. In some ways, I still feel 23. But recently, I’ve felt happier than I ever have. Don’t get me wrong; my life isn’t perfect. I need to lose 20 pounds. My sister has cancer. We sometimes have more bills than money. Our house could use new windows and better landscaping. My skin breaks out at the most inopportune times. The kitchen is a mess. I’m overwhelmed by all the “hats” I’m wearing right now. Life is not easy. It never is.
But the difference, I think, is that for the first time in my life, I’m becoming comfortable with who I am. Yes, I’m a bit overweight. But hey, I’m working on it, and I don’t look so bad. Yes, my sister has cancer. But she’s here now, and God’s in control, and we’ll get through it. Yes, money is tight. But my kids have food to eat and a warm house to live in. And for the first time in a long time, I know who I am. I know that I’m a pretty great person. I’m compassionate and funny. I’m a great mom and a good wife. I’m a loyal friend and a caring person. I’m fairly intelligent and I’m good at my job. I don’t complain or whine very often, and I’m fun to be around. I have my faults, but I’m working on them. Mostly, I’m doing okay.
We all waste so many years of our lives, and we miss so many great moments, because we’re focusing on the next thing that we think we need to make us happy. We don’t sit back enough, look around us, and enjoy the ride. I know that I, for one, get caught up in the housekeeping and homework and laundry and busy-ness and don’t stop to realize that hey, this is it. This is life. I need to stop waiting for life to happen…life won’t be any more LIFE when we are financially secure or when I lose 20 pounds or when we can make that trip to Disney World or when the house is clean or when I get a raise at work. This is life. it’s happening right now and it’s in all these little details.
It won’t be easy to remember. I’ll have to remind myself often to sit back and enjoy the stuff of life. I still want that trip to Disney World. I still have to clean my house. I’m still watching what I eat and trying to fit a walk or jog in everyday. But today I’ll sit back and enjoy a little more. Today I’ll look around me…at my kids laughing, at the busy-ness and activity going on around me, at the people I love surrounding me…and I’ll know that this is the journey. This is happiness.