Are you still on the fence? Have you been told it’s not worth it? Is it too expensive or complicated with young kids? Over the next year at Uplifting Anchor we are going to add a family travel section. We’ll be breaking it down to actionable steps, sharing stories and tips, and ideas for destinations.
You Don’t Need to Wait to See the World
I hear a lot of my friends say that they cannot imagine spending the money to travel overseas with their kids. They’d rather wait until they can enjoy the vacation. It is true- traveling, especially to foreign countries, takes a different kind of work. However, you can be smart in how you shape the trip.
Whilst many destinations boast amazing museums, skip those in favor of the brilliant outdoors. Make a day of just being on a train. Walk through a crowded market place and take in the sights and sounds of a town. We actually have spent LESS money traveling with our daughter because we spend more time experiencing a place versus traipsing around and paying for all the tourist parts.
You don’t need to wait until you are old and grey to get out there. Get on the road, the plane, the camel…and make it happen. Your child is going to enjoy whatever you are seeing because they are with you.
Travel Reminds Us of What We Have
Even the most beautiful of destinations still have their flaws. Being in a new culture reminds us of how we are all human. Everyone lives and survives in a different way. It gives our children a chance to see that. It brings perspective into the family and gets conversation rolling.
In the Challenge, We’re Brought Closer Together
It takes a lot of communication and patience to travel overseas. There’s no pretending- there will be trying times of missed trains, uncomfortable moments, being lost, grumpy, crying kids. You all get tired. It happens. It also builds resilience amongst you, because you will eventually figure it out, and those hard times may very well become the finest memories. The challenge brings you closer together as a team. It gives you shared experiences and strengthens that family bond.
Where do you want to travel to with your family?
*Please note: while obviously not everyone can buy tickets to fly from Kalamazoo to Timbuctoo, do not be disheartened. My family did not have the finances to do that when I was younger either. But we did camp, and those experiences of buckling down as a family to drive miles, set up, and huddle around the fire shaped who I am. If overseas travel is not available to you right now, I hope it is someday. Until then, adventure CAN be found just in making time to get out as a family.*
“Don’t forget- no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” ~Charles de Lint
The sky outside is dark, and in my little corner of the world a rooster crows. I omit an inward chuckle- that rooster, the squeaking of bus wheels outside, the zip of a moped, and the stillness of my back yard palm tree- all items that have been in both homes whilst I write. This blog started in Hawaii, and has traveled with me to Morocco. I hope it keeps packing it’s suitcase to travel with me- and I hope you, dear reader, do too.
I am a military spouse and mother that began writing as an escape and an anchor to this life.
It is a life I am beyond grateful for, but it is also one that has stripped our family down to the studs in dark moments. Our foundation has shuddered; the walls have reverberated with tears and shortcomings, faith lost and faith gained.
My urge to write started as a whisper that turned into a frantic plead. It kept me awake at night, all the stories that talked to me. I know- it sounds a bit maddening, doesn’t it? But when a dream calls I feel you must answer, least it decides to give up on you and walk away. It will walk away and find another host to pest, and you may be left longing for it to be bugging you. So grab the dream by the shirt tails and bring it inside. Give it a cozy seat at your table and listen to it telling you what could be.
What could be is a hallowed place to spin your tales. A place that is hilariously about motherhood, marriage, and military life- all the things I once tried to escape but now I realize are cells pumping through my bloodstream. I still down to write, and find a continuous flow of all the stories that make up who I am, and they need to be let out.
I am different from the young mom that started this blog. Of course in two years I am older- but it’s not just the passing of time that has wizened me, it is the growth of our daughter from crawling babe to sprinting child. It has been the rebuilding of me and our marriage, it is hope that I found in hard corners that keeps me writing.
The power of story- of reading others and writing my own that brought me back to life.
What began as just a hopeful place of sanctuary has now spun into thousands of words. I spend the wee morning hours recounting precious tales, tough moments, heart thudding wonders, and while sometimes I work to make sense of it all- other times I like to merely bask in the memories.
How long will this little experiment with words continue? I hope for a good long time. Because in the hallowed hours of dark and quiet, I found a piece of myself, and a little dream that keeps growing. There is distinct JOY in finding fellow dreamers and hopers that work to build and share their own story-homes. We all pick and choose when we open the door to let the world saunter around our thoughts.
It’s a precious gift and honor to keep weaving tales here. It’s a precious gift that you show up to read them. As I click-clack the keys into year two of Uplifting Anchor, my belief that writing heals remains stronger than ever.
One kind word can shape someone’s day. A breath of encouragement gives us strength to move forward. Sharing our journey helps hope rise.
That’s what you’ll find here: stories that celebrate life’s little moments. We can turn hard chapters into challenges because there is light on the other side.
Thank you for being here.
Xoxo, Lindsay- Uplifting Anchor’s 2nd Birthday, June 2018.
We end every night we are together like this. Heads turned toward each other in bed, listening for what shook the others’ day up nicely enough to be deemed as a “favorite”.
This tradition has been going on for eight years now, our marriage stretching to nine years and counting. It all began in our drafty Monterey apartment, with sea lions barking in the distance and a cool salty wind blowing in from the screen less windows. We were still technically newlyweds eleven months into our marriage.
He spent the first of those nine months in Iraq. I spent it employed as a dancer with Carnival Cruise Lines. Every time we docked I would rush to a coffee shop, desperate for Wi-Fi and the slow and steady ring of Skype.
Slowly over those nine months our contact dwindled, and we limped into the finish line of the deployment. We greeted each other like strangers who promised one another a life filled with love.
Month ten meant being in a strange state of with-without each other. We went to Australia for a belated honeymoon. Then apart again, him hauling gear from San Diego to Monterey- I had the joy of going through all of our childhood items in our parent’s homes in Ohio. It was time for us both to be officially “moved out”.
We had a lovely going-away party + belated wedding shower, more items to add to the moving truck. We sent the movers on their way and drove ourselves across the country from Ohio to California- without stopping overnight once. There were a few crippling hours spent in a gas station parking lot attempting shut-eye. A few large cups of coffee and some snickers bars later and we were back on the road.
We were crazy young kids with hopes, dreams, and a lot of time in car with a broken radio to talk the hurt out of the deployment.
Month eleven equaled our first time ever living together, setting up house on quaint Italian hill. It was joyous and painful. The shock of moving in, of choosing to be a military spouse slowly sunk in. The joblessness settled on my soul, the friendlessness, the starting-over with no resiliency yet. I had no idea how to live this life. I had no true understanding on how to do so.
Month twelve was spent with a lot of slammed doors, shattered expectations, and pounding the pavement to figure out how to begin again. I was a rollercoaster of highs and lows. He was working to be patient but kind, but confused on how to help me. I didn’t yet know how to help myself. He was buried in work and responsibility. He needed me to carry my weight. I needed me to carry my weight.
In that first year we frequently butted heads and had more than our share of lovers’ quarrels. We fought each other and found ourselves always pitted against the other. No one won.
It was in the quiet hours at night, the two of us raw and angry after a fight that we reached into the space between us. We were so close but still so far. No more oceans and deserts between us, but a black hole of misunderstanding instead. It was then that we decided we needed change- a routine that could be ours and ours alone.
“What was your favorite?”
A simple question, only four words long worked to close the gap between us. It is easy but challenging to answer. It requires digging into oneself, and discovering a shiny little gem of good in the day. The question made (and still makes) us stop every night, even on the worst days- and find a tiny bright spot.
We’ve answered that question hundreds of times now, perhaps thousands. Our answers have stretched over our experiences in this life together, and apart.
I’ve answered: getting that new writing piece out. Making banana bread, making a quilt, making a new job connection, watching a student “get it”. Seeing our daughter laugh, having her sleep that extra fifteen minutes so I could shower! Eating that luxurious cookie at the coffee shop.
I’ve whispered: hearing your voice on the phone today baby. Knowing you are here next to me.
I’ve smiled. I’ve cried. My fingers have written my daily joy to him during more deployments and trainings. Saved it on the pages of my journal to share later, and waited, watching his face as he’s worked out what his is too.
After that first grueling, giddy year, life started to work and get better with time, as I’ve found it does. Time and elbow grease heals a great many of life’s turmoil. I figured out how to pursue a career in teaching, which I ended up loving. My art of re-invention was sparked, and has continued on during his career.
I figured out how to better speak with him about the frustration of trying to maintain my identity. My heart was called to be his wife. But I needed to find a way to still be me, too- an ever-changing, adaptable me that could serve alongside him. Our stride was found, together.
We figured out that choosing love and kindness over making each other miserable was a big key to our marital success. We also discovered daily joys.
Our daily joy sharing has become a power between us. We expect it, which means we always expect to find some glimmer of good in our toughest day. In sharing them, we are stronger together. Four small words close the space between us on distant days, and send us off to dream of starting our beautiful mess again in the morning, hopefully for many, many years to come.
My thumbs toil furiously in an online chat, emotions quickly spilling out on my phone’s keyboard to my best friend. What began as a talk about self-care reveals my real stress: moving season is upon us AGAIN.
Just thinking about it flashes me back to our move in 2017 which felt incredibly difficult. Part of it was a culture change in being overseas, part of it was my husband’s new job, and another piece of the puzzle was our first time moving with our two year old.
But I’m a military spouse: I am resilient, I have moved many times before, and I will always make it work. Right?
Yes. I did eventually make our location work and even ended up loving it- but what I did not bank on was how hard I would be on myself emotionally. My expectations were SKY HIGH for myself, and when I didn’t adapt right away, when I didn’t love it right away, when I didn’t make friends right away or get comfortable…I felt lost, afraid, resentful and angry.
My loss of strength and lack of kindness with my own feelings made the PCS transition even harder.
I have promised myself to learn from each experience on this journey, so with our newest moving date looming, I am working to find new solutions to the stress and anxiety that accompany it. While it may not make the move easier, it does make me feel like I have gained more positive control over my own mind and emotions. Instead of stuffing feelings away, I am greeting each one with care and consideration.
This idea of Reframing a PCS makes me curious about reframing in general, and here is what I have learned thus far (please keep in mind all opinions are my own and I am not a mental health professional):
Reframing in terms of psychology:
Cognitive reframing- psychological technique that identifies and disputes irrational thoughts, working to find more positive alternatives
Changing the meaning of something, thereby changing our minds
For each PCS season, I greet familiar emotions and work to reframe them:
Challenge and Adventure over Hardship
I can get lost in how hard a move is. How hard it is to get started again, find work, settle my child in, make friends, and figure life out from square one again. But the more I focus on hard, the deeper I sink. When I start to envision the PCS as a challenge and adventure, I feel excitement instead of dread. I can look forward to the new sights to see, the new people that will enter our life. Challenge always means I will learn and grow from the new hurdles placed in our path. We always find our way around them, through them, or over them- and this boosts my confidence.
Ownership over Blame
Instead of blaming the move for how I feel- I am working to accept that big emotions come with big change. I can keep blaming, or I can own where I am at. When I own it- I have new perspective on how to make better choices with my feelings. Ownership also means I am aware of when I need to get outside help.
Kindness and Patience over Anger and Confusion
PCS can bring out the best in our family- and the worst. I would like to do my best to work at extending kindness and patience to myself and my family. Functioning within the constraints anger and confusion drains us. While we can’t put a stop to what we are feeling, I can recognize these emotions as warning signals to take a time out try a new tactic.
Moving Forward as a Military Family
We are in a unique situation right now of knowingly greeting three moves in three years. With one down and two to go (and many more after that as we continue to march onward to retirement) I am accepting that constant change is in there air.
Change is always tough, and always requires something different from us. However, we are capable of coping with it. Coping- not suffering.
Along with reframing, a friend of mine suggested the brilliant idea of setting a MANTRA for the move ahead. This means picking a phrase or a few words that will encompass what I would like this move to feel like.
My moving mantra this time is: Open Curiosity.
Open: to new experiences, cultures, staying open with my family, embracing an open heart and mind to what this new chapter will place in our lives.
Curious: curious with my emotions, curious of this newest adventure instead of fearful.
Tying reframing to my own moving mantra is proving to be a powerful tool in looking forward to our next PCS.
Do you like the idea setting a moving mantra? Does reframing come naturally to you? What do you need to reframe in your next PCS?
At this moment I am typing on November 4th, 2017. November is a month in which I foolishly and haphazardly have decided to try NaNoWriMo. More than just a fun thing to say, The National Novel Writing Month promises just that- to get up and get to a keyboard and let the words flow.
As of today I have managed three amazing days of the process. I’ve been waking early before the family, with a cup of coffee and the early morning birds chirping majestically through the window. Getting words to paper and feeling the promise of truthful blog content pouring through my fingertips. That’s my promise to myself: blog first, then book. This means I want to “clear the way- clear my head” with content before I crack into the book I want to write. This is also perhaps just an excuse and distraction I tell myself to avoid writing the big, scary book.
Let’s get back to November 4th…
Today was the first weekend of the project. And I forgot that on weekends I struggle. It’s hard to leave our precious family time for anything more.
So this morning I lavishly slept in and snuggled my husband. We had a rushed breakfast and then he was off to do some man-rands, which are man errands, can we make man-rands a thing? No? Yes?
Anyway, I managed to get a sleepy, grumpy almost three year old dressed and strapped into a stroller before I realized I was fifteen minutes late for when I wanted to leave. Curses: this means blazing through the beautiful day at top speed so we can participate in her kiddo music class. I’m sweating when we arrive but we make it. The class goes well. Daddy-man even shows up for the tail end so that he can give us a ride back home.
At home we slap together lunch and he’s off again, going into work. After, he’s going to get some much-needed rest at a massage. I am dutifully going to watch our daughter because that’s what this team does. We support each other and our need for rest.
More coffee, music up loud, I fold some laundry that’s been collecting a new layer of dust in the basket. Laundry away, child and I read five books, outside with the singing birds. I keep a notebook nearby to jot down more writing ideas. I’m winning at life. We feed our bunnies, we fetch a snack. The tides are turning now as the sun starts to make its early winter descent.
Due to the luxury of sleeping in, a nap for the child is out of the question. That would be okay, until the mood turns sour around 4 p.m. We start butting heads. I have not written a word yet and it’s getting later and later in the day.
I decide to do another creative project that I love to get the juices flowing. I start ironing fabric for a sewing craft. I lay out all of her paints and markers at my desk and tape a giant piece of paper down. In my head I’m chanting Super Mom: Setting My Kid Up for Success! The idea is we shall both merrily craft.
10 minutes of set up, and 3 minutes in she’s already ready to bail from this exercise in mommy-daughter fun. The iron is steaming so I’m committed to finishing. She flits in and out of the room with different books, outfits, is that my tape measure? I track her down so I can start measuring and cutting the fabric.
“It’s my doggy’s leash MOM!”
“Well I need to borrow it back from doggy; you may use this ribbon instead.”
Thankfully our trade is negotiated sans tantrum. I’m back to the cutting board.
There is silence for another blissful ten minutes. That’s when I hear the very significant and familiar sound that can only be something precious breaking into a zillion pieces.
My first thought is where is she, and is she okay?! With that answered: Our Room & Yes, I’m on to discover it was a water glass that is shattered next to our bed. I managed to put my temper away as I assess the damage. She’s asked to stand far away so I can get it cleaned up without hurting anyone. She does, and then we do talk about it, my heart heavy when she starts to tell me,
“We can fix it with tape mommy. Or glue. Or you can use your coffee mug! Or daddy will fix it. We can buy another one.”
The last statement sets my blood boiling. We cannot just buy another one. I do not want to raise a child that thinks throwing money at the equation will just solve it. We’re both sent to time-out to get a minute to think. She comes out of it with apologies and the understanding that we cannot play in mommy and daddy’s room without mommy and daddy. Accidents happen, and some things we cannot fix.
This is just in time for daddy to come home and we explain everything. He senses I need a break and instead of graciously taking one I start seething away about how I need a break but there’s never any time! What can I even do when my brain is fried and I’ve been serving people all day and -you get it right?
I am now setting a prime terrific adult-tantrum example in front of the ever-watching eyes of our child.
He takes the frying pan from my hand, tells me he’ll finish dinner and to just get upstairs and write. So here I am, with my 15 minutes and 957 words.
I know every mother has hours in her day like this one- where we are challenged by time, energy, smashed glasses and curious little eyes. The main challenge in it though is to look past the fifteen minutes where you felt like losing it, or even did lose it. We have to look at all the good we did do as a good mom instead of the fifteen where we flipped the switch to bad mom.
My bad mom is impatient, she’s selfish. She rants loudly and is a really great martyr. She is also me, and we are both human.
Generally, I will think about the fifteen minutes where I feel like I failed my family for the rest of the night. My husband and I will most likely talk about them, as I will want the assurance that I did not ruin her or us for life. Then I will have to get over it. I will have to forgive myself. I will also have to acknowledge that while the day went in a vastly different direction from a relaxing Saturday, I did in fact, still find the courage to sit down and do something small for me. Because it does make me a good mom to have these minutes alone, click clacking at the keys and working to make sense of it all.
It makes you a good mom, to step back and away and get a minute (or fifteen) for you. It’s in this window that we reset, and go from bad mom to good, again.
My child is growing up. We have mastered stage one of moving from babyhood to childhood. The list we had is all ticked off: get rid of pacifier, potty train, learn to walk, learn to talk, feed and dress oneself: all of these are complete. She’s far from ready for the world, but once these skills were honed- our baby book guide snapped shut.
The transition has left me off-kilter and excited all in one. There are of course more tasks to complete as she grows: learn to read, to write, to discover, but they all feel more abstract than the babyhood tasks. I’m ready and I’m not. Her childhood ship horn is blaring, and we better jump on board. We are departing from a safe harbor and we are navigating into foreign waters.
With her growth comes a fresh question in my mind: what am I giving her as a mother? What do I want to give?
These questions feel both exciting and make my pulse quicken. With a baby, I was responsible for keeping her alive-fed, dry, safe, and loved, loved, loved. I am still love; love, loving but also the story is spreading into mentorship, boundary-giving, encouraging, and working to set an example in my own actions.
Most days it feels like a tremendous responsibility and joy, but I honestly long for a guide-book that can tell me how to do it.
I find myself closing my eyes more, listening to my intuition, and digging out two new words to guide the way in motherhood: trust & presence.
On the days I feel lost I reach for the best answer I can give and I find focus in those two words. I am giving her the gift of my presence daily. I’m choosing to see her fiercely growing heart; and I’m letting her see mine.
There are more boxes to tick on the “she must learn” list, but more than that is the opportunity every day to show up with my actions.
I trust myself to be human. To give the best answers I can, and remain curious to what I do not. There is trust in how I care for myself: that she sees me eating well, being physically active, and gently loving my spirit. I trust that she knows mommy savors books, fosters my own creative heart, laughs with abandon, and still knows how to play.
I trust that I’m teaching her to keep herself busy, that her best friend can be her own self sometimes. Trust that she sees her daddy and me living honestly: that love comes with trials we work through together. That forgiveness is not random but necessary. Everything can stop for a hug, a little spin around the living room, and that we rejoice in each other. I trust that she will know a great Father God loves her.
The present of presence is one of the greatest attributes I hope to bestow.
It’s hard to know the greatest ways I’ve grown have been through challenge and hardship- because I know she will have to face those as well to grow. My own parents let me fall and fall hard, because strength formed in getting back up.
When she falls I’ll be here: not to lift her up completely- but to show her that she can dust it off and keep going.
I’m present in each morning snuggle, in each night time whisper. There is presence in intentionally knowing when to step in and step back. I find comfort in the knowledge that sometimes the best gift is just “being there”.
The gift of my mother love knows no end- and as we set forth into these new waters, I will keep learning, and honoring the gifts I have to give.
Did you always want to become a mother? I did…and then I didn’t.
Everyone tells you the hard stuff when you become a mom- because they want to somehow prepare you for what you can never really be ready for. But what we can’t describe accurately, what no words can sum up is the gift of motherhood.
All of my mom friends seemed really tired. I knew there was joy there, but there was also a heck of a lot of work, responsibility, and serious adult business going on. When I asked them about it, they would shrug and tell me of course all those hard things were going on- but that they also could not imagine life without their arm-flailing cherub.
I was not convinced. My dreams were big. I needed to travel, to work, to build a foundation with my husband. At every function we went to as a couple I was asked, “kids?” A lengthy explanation of why we did not have said kid yet would spill from me. The person listening would sort of glaze over, and in the end wake up from my ramble to remind me one day I would just know it was time.
Just know and make the leap to harbor a life-sucking living being within me. Just know that I was ready to give it all up and have a person that I must shepherd through this wild, amazing, tumultuous world. I just knew I would never be ready…
…until I was suddenly and incredibly ready with every fiber of my being to be a mom.
Each attempt at a pregnancy that did not happen made my soul shake with rage. It made me mad at myself for all the years we worked really hard to not be pregnant. Why was it so hard to get what I needed now?
Fortunately it did happen, my girl that began as a faint line on a stick. She was a journey through 40 weeks and 5 days until I held her sweet face for the first time. She was mine and I was hers and I would never be the same.
There were long days and even longer nights: tears, collapsing under the weight of caring for this most precious person, and fears about if I could do this big job of “mom”. But in each day I kept her little mouth fed, her strong heart beating, and her soft downy hair covered in kisses- I grew more confident. I grew more knowledgeable in the gift of being MOM.
The gift of motherhood is sometimes hard to see. It’s covered in sweat, blood, tears, and an enormous heart shattering responsibility. But peel those layers back, one by one and you’ll find that every ounce of your being starts to mingle with the cosmos.
I am a mom now. The one that will look the questioning maybe-someday-mother in the eyes and tell her: it’s hard. But it is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.
Motherhood is the greatest gift. Motherhood is the best thing I have ever done. I once would have balked at that statement. I thought life was measured in different accomplishments- how much work I had completed, what my resume said about me. My measurement was in flights taken to see foreign lands and a vast array of intensely satisfying cultural experiences. I do not count myself unlucky that I did get to do all of that before kid- because I had no regrets about becoming a mother when I did.
But I held onto a great fear of losing myself in motherhood. I thought I would be gone in a puff of smoke from the earth. Life as I knew it would be over. And- it is.Thank God that it is.
I had a rich, full life before becoming a mother. I have a rich, full life after becoming a mother.
My heart knows how to love differently, more deeply, and it turns the world to Technicolor instead of black and white. I know how to give freely of myself. I know what an unbelievable power a mother’s love holds. There are two phases of my life now: before motherhood- and after.
The gift of motherhood is that I am shaken to my core daily. I see life through new eyes, a life with hope and a future to work toward. My heart is on a wave of love that rocks me, working to keep expanding as she does. I am imperfect and human and she sees that- my husband sees that- and they still love me.
Motherhood has helped me love myself deeper. It’s helped me be more compassionate, understanding, and fierce. Even if I only have this one precious girl, even if our family of three stays three- I will have been able to touch this beautiful gift and know it forever.
I hold my gift close to me. If motherhood came into my heart like a perfect little box, then when I pulled the string the flaps popped down and out sprang a new and better me. My motherhood gift helps me to keep growing into who I am. Better yet- I love this person that I am.
Rest*Less <adjective> unable to rest or relax as a result of anxiety or boredom. Synonyms: ill at ease, restive, fidgety, edgy, tense, anxious.
Offering no physical or emotional rest; involving constant activity or motion
I am a person of big emotions. It is both my super hero strength and my kryptonite. Right now I am restless.
I had to look up the definition; to be sure I was capturing the right stirring in my soul: but there it is. With all its glorious and appropriate synonyms too: I am also edgy, tense and anxious. Part of me is also ill at ease. Why? Why again this swirling hurricane of emotions on my heart?
I’m up and down like a roller coaster as I realize I did not fully understand what moving three times in three years would do to my mind and heart.
This is a whole new challenge for our family. We have moved after two years, after three, but never three times back to back all across the globe. As we wait with baited breath to find what location number two will be, I am a familiar mix of excitement, fear, and a side serving of resentment.
I am feeling unhinged and out of control. When I am in public I can speak with ease about moving, when people’s eyebrows raise and eyeballs pop a bit when they hear the fun crazy of military life. But behind each phrase is another truth.
It is a general mix of the following, with my canned responses and my heart murmuring the truth beneath my sentiments:
Wow! That sounds like a crazy adventure. You will be so bored whenever you settle down.
Canned answer: We know! We are incredibly fortunate to have seen as much as we have, the world our feet has touched, the exposure we’ve had to different cultures and life. Out of all the things that scare me, getting married did not, having a child did not, but actually choosing one place to live forever more? That is terrifying!
<insert public laughter here, or nods of acknowledgement. Those that live this life alongside us are also generally house buying shy, those that already own have a hard time imagining picking up every eighteen months to start over, thus the laughter.>
My heart murmur: I am tending to my own grass- right? I love/hate the quote “the grass is always greener” because I long to be content right where I am. Most days, I do feel very happy with our family’s lawn- where we are placed we are sure to grow.
But there is also a whisper of wishing for constant, for a home I come home to everyday.
To tend a garden and put paint on the walls and fill with memories as the same walls surround us year after year. Whenever I think of a home, I think of my in-laws house. It is the only home save my Nana’s that has been in my life since I was a teenager. I know it well and imagine it as my own. I can mentally decorate it and push furniture around on days where I long for a home of my own.
You’ve found your writing though, and you seem really happy in the domestic role. That makes it easier on all of you I’m sure.
Canned answer: The writing I can take with me wherever I go- I am really lucky to have something like that, that can feed my identity as we move. If you had told me I would be the one in my family that would end up the stay at home mom and wife I think everyone would have laughed! But yes, it suits me now, and my mother did the same, so I have her to look up to and commiserate with.
My heart murmur: I long for a career of my own, but I’m also delighting in all this time to love my family and tend to them in a deep, connected way. I am not pulled in a hundred directions, trying to balance a work/home life and there is a weird guilt that hangs over my head about that. Like I am less of a modern day woman because I do not participate in as much hustle. I feel pretty content most days with our current roles, but I struggle to keep a striving part of myself breathing- I will need her one day when this is all over.
You seem like you are really rolling with it. I don’t know how you do it.
Canned answer: I don’t know how we do it either sometimes. But I really tried to love other people- and Ryan, my husband, he was it. He’s still it. I could not be with anyone else, so along with him was this crazy ride! It’s been an insanely interesting journey with periods I have loved and periods that pretty much sucked like deployments.
My heart murmur: Each one of those deployments has taken a chunk from us. Where you see bravery and strength I have felt the tension and heartache from behind closed doors. Where I am very proud of us for making it to the other side and still standing firmly together, I also know the fight that raged on to do so. I know we are stronger due to all of the challenges, but I am also exhausted thinking there could be more ahead.
And to that thought- deployment feels like the hardest to me right now. We are better together. But what of the other hards? Of losing parents and really owning a home together and having another child? It’s all life. Perhaps the hard we’ve been through now will better equip us for the battles ahead.
Canned vs Heart Murmur
Which of these responses hold the truth? Which of them capture how I am really feeling about this whole adventurous challenge that is my life? I am certain it is both: both of my answers capture the whole picture. Ying and yang, good and bad, truth and more truth; the honesty I speak aloud and the track that plays in my mind quietly in the background like lounge music.
To combat the two sides of my mental coin, I participate in the overwhelming work to be grateful for what we DO have because it could indeed be a different story. When I’m stuck in an emotional hole I try to sit down and sort it out, acknowledging the emotion is there but combatting it with gratitude.
Sometimes I find these exercises work wonders, and other times I still feel the sharp twang of anxiety. I can push it down, I can push it back, but it does still live within me…I used to firmly believe it was my duty to choose happy in military life. If I picked the right attitude somehow it would sort itself out. That restlessness and ill at ease were battles I could fight, fists raised.
Well, I’ve punched hard for happy and now know it only comes with accepting the anxiety of constant change too.
The longer we’re in this life I find there are other choices: Courage and Curiosity over Fear. Knowing that the restless anxiety does not just go away, it is at times an uncomfortable journey we are on. I have to sit in that pocket of feeling things I do not want to. I must sit with the emotions that are hard, heavy, and draining. They are emotions I am glad I have the capacity to acknowledge but at times get tired of dealing with.
So while we wait, wait, wait for the next round of orders- for someone in an office somewhere to click around on our family’s name and determine our fate for the next few years, I have to revisit this dastardly restlessness. I have to be fidgety, edgy, and tense during different times of day where I allow myself to visit my truth right now.
I now bring my weapons to this battle:
Pen flying across the page of my journal
Fingers hitting keys to sort out the myriad of thoughts
Phone call to a friend, a loved one, someone who can listen to my madness…again
Breath, this one I need to do more of. Sitting down and letting it all go when I can.
Snuggling deep into my husband’s arms, my battle buddy on this ever-shifting life.
In the morning, in the light of a new day I will face the choice again: knowing I can no longer live in a place where I feel that if I just choose happy or pick the right attitude everything will turn out fine.
Now I need to sit with restlessness, knowing it is the companion on this journey that is unshakeable. All I can do is determine how much suitcase space it is allowed to take up: a whole bag? Or just shoved into a small zippered side pocket as I work to embrace the more welcoming emotions of this lifestyle: joy, adventure, and an open heart filled with gratitude for this journey.
It is time to live with all of them, embrace them, and know that they are part of it all.
It’s hard to raise a child, especially once the school years start. Phone calls from the teacher could bring tough news to your front door. Those low grades could spell trouble down the road or shed light on a bigger challenge. And your next PCS move could totally destroy the semblance of home/school balance you’ve finally created.
Where can you turn when the school journey gets tough?
When you’re overwhelmed and looking for help, MilKids Ed is the perfect place for military families to seek expert advice and assistance. This is an education blog founded for and focused on military families: your struggles, your triumphs, your journey. Through timely articles and finely tuned products and services, we can find the best path for your family.
Here are five ways that MilKids Ed can help your MilFam starting right now.
1. Honest Advice
Like the military, schools feature a lot of jargon and many hoops that you need to jump through. Let’s cut through the red tape with honest advice and insights in the K-12 journey. Whether you are looking for cute teacher gifts that won’t get regifted or need to know about your rights as a parent at school, it’s here!
There are other blogs out there for teachers, but none for teachers of military children. And there are blogs out there for parents, but none for parents of military children. MilKids Ed is specifically for military families, with honest advice and real world solutions.
2. Find a School
If I had a dollar for every time I personally saw a military family asking for school advice on social media, I would be rich! When you ask online, you are going to get advice on everything under the sun. You could end up overwhelmed with choices or with nothing that truly meets your child’s need. Plus, with all those opinions out there, you could hear both great and terrible things about one school or one teacher.
Skip all of that and get your info from MilKids! With MilKids School Info, you’ll get honest reviews of public and private schools located near military installations. These are all schools that real military families have attended and recommended.
After you’ve checked that out, grab your Ultimate School Success Kit’s comparison worksheet. Stack your potential school choices up against each other to see who comes out on top. The comparison sheet is designed specifically for military families, so you can be sure it will work for you!
3. Support for K-12 Parents
It seems like there is a group for everything on Facebook right now. From true crime aficionados to perky puppies pictures, you can find a group to join. Now there is a Facebook group for military parents with children in school.
MilKids K-12 Parent Support is a great place to network with other busy military parents and ask those tough questions. From advice about what to look for in your next school to emergency IEP help, you can find it all here.
The Support Group is growing and expanding as more parents join us. It’s also closed so that your questions remain private, but it makes the group easier to find. Plus, there are tons of exclusives offered only to group members.
4. School Concierge Services
So you’ve read all the articles and done the comparison worksheet. You’re still overwhelmed! Instead of stressing yourself out even more during a tough PCS, hire an expert to help. MilKids Ed offers custom school search packages at reasonable rates.
Simply share a little bit about your wants and needs in a school. Then a curated list of possible schools will arrive in your inbox, along with reasons for or against selected a particular school. Instead of hours of searching online, you’ll cut your active school search time down to minutes.
Plus, enrollment will be easy with checklists and organizers to help you.
5. Empowered Parents
If you could skip that tongue-tied feeling next time the teacher calls, would you? What if that IEP meeting could be almost stress-free?
When you’re overwhelmed and nervous, MilKids Ed can help you to feel empowered and confident! The blog and the free resources are a great starting place for busy parents on the go. Everything is easy to download and 100% printable.
If you’ve worked through all of that, but are still craving more, there are great next steps that can keep you feeling confident and prepared.
Talk to the Teacher gives parents a road map to follow, designed to improve parent-teacher relationships through communication. You’ll have word-for-word meeting scripts and email templates that tell you exactly what to say, how to say it, and why you should be saying it. There are workbook and planning pages to help you focus and zoom in on the important stuff. You’ll even know exactly how to organize your paperwork to have the biggest impact!
Oh the decade of 30, how I love thee. Let me count the ways! First, I digress to my twenties, which were full of crazy choices, growing up, and gaining traction with who I thought I should be. There was a lot of forehead slapping moments back then that I look on with a wince and a sigh now. I had to live them, but I am certainly glad they have gone past for now.
I feel like at this stage in life, with an almost three year old, life has hit a bit of quiet. The needy baby stage is over, and I shockingly have a bit more time for myself right now. It’s a beautiful grace period. I know the volume can crank back up at any time, and we’ll be ready when it does, but for now, this quiet rest is a nice place to reach.
I’m finding that after kid, the simplest delights are truly treasured. My soul is at ease with who I am, and knowing full well that I can enforce change if I so choose.
Change is harder than it used to be- but I know a bad behavior when I’m starting it. I also know how to put an end to it, and that the change does not generally come in a big sweeping motion, but in gradual better choices day in and day out. I’m finally part of the marathon, rather than the sprint.
I am not as body obsessed, striving for perfection. But I can stand in the bathroom and feel when my bits and pieces have started to shift downward. I combat this with workouts- nice ones that make me feel healthy and strong, not overly starved or stressed.
My career path is a weird mix of trying all things creative as I continue to be a stay at home mama and her very first preschool teacher.
There are days where anxiety and worry creep in, but the wisdom of years has taught me this time is fleeting and FAST. It’s better to acknowledge the emotions, greet them, and deal with them with an outpouring of gratitude for right where I’m at.
There’s no rushing this stage. Right now, my daughter is still mine in the sense that I get to relish in our time together each day. Someday very soon she shall be a girl of the world and I will have to give her up to her path.
My marathon looks as follows in my small delights, road stops along the way, the 10 Reasons I Love 30:
1. Permission granted to not need approval from everyone. I was born a people-pleaser who loved accolades and a lot of friends. Now I have a small community of true loves, which is better than hundreds of acquaintances.
2. Soaking in the tub. We have a giant tub in this house, and it’s not about bubbles anymore. Bath salts, a candle, a glass of wine or just a big gulp of water sit next to me as I silence the world and rest in my skin.
3. Spending real time in our home. My house used to be a place to change, eat, sleep, move on from. We take up space in our house now. We live and love and dance and cry in our walls. I am endeared to this shift of our lives, and it is good for all of us.
4. Early mornings, before the family wakes up. My mornings are sacred. 95% of the time I make it up before the rest of my crew. I brew the first pot of coffee. I read. I write. I get to be a little bit alone and meet my needs before I meet everyone else’s.
5. Finally discovering the love of writing just for writings sake. I came back to blogging at 30, feeling innately in need of a creative place.
But somewhere on that road I became wrapped up in “have-tos” and “MUSTS” like I needed to make myself into some kind of business. No. I can merely blog and write for the love of it. I can create because I am a creator. I am more of a creator with original ideas than I ever was in my 20s. There is freedom in that. Freedom in finding a voice and a way to express it.
6. God and I talk again. In my 20s I diminished Him to the background because I was not fully proud of who I was or where I was going. In my 30s, we are back together in a BIG way. I look forward to finding a church and a group to shape community with. Until then, I have my moments of prayer and reflection alone.
7. I make with my hands. This mainly includes embroidery, sewing or cross stitch. It’s a gift passed down to me from my mother and grandmother and I am happy to carry on the tradition.
8. I know I can’t do it all and do it all well. My family knows that I am horrible when I am over tired. I recognize the need for a meal plan and I need a clean kitchen when I go to bed. These are things I know about myself now, sanity savers that take a little more work but make for a much nicer me.
9. My husband and I like to talk. We sometimes need prompting, but we have returned to sitting together and chatting about all things life. Sometimes he just listens patiently as I talk in circles. I am back to bouncing ALL the ideas off of him and he’s back to reigning me in. I missed us. We’re back.
10. While I greatly miss my family, I have a family of my own to tend to. I try to make sure all parties know my love and gratitude for them. Time feels like it is going faster and everything is more precious.
This is where I am at 30. I am more of an old, simple soul with affection for the quiet and cozy.
It’s funny I just realized I didn’t write “travel” for any of these. Travel and adventure used to define me. I still hunger for it, but it’s more of a delight to do it when it happens rather than a gnawing insatiable appetite.
Where will I be in 8 more years? At 40 with a whole new set of knowledge, I hope!