baby

2016 & 2017: The Hard Years

Last year was hard. No sense putting a made-up pretty face on it, or calling a spade a diamond: physically, emotionally, and situationally, 2016 was a hard year.
I gained some of the weight I lost in 2015 back – not eating properly, not being motivated, and seeking emotional solace in food all played their own roles. I spent 6 solid months separated from my husband, which meant 6 months being a single mother. I shared a bedroom with a non-sleeping toddler for nearly 5 cumulative months of the year. I made the difficult decision to go back to work after 5 long years of recovery. I took on new volunteer positions without shedding the old ones. I began a part-time direct sales business. And honestly, travelling over the Christmas season is no way to finish an already trying year.
And this year has started in the same way. MiniSir will be deployed this year – yet another long separation for us. I have secured a job and day care for Grunt, and now we are just waiting on my official start date. We bought a new car, anticipating a future that the Army has now changed on us (again). And all those volunteer positions? I can’t seem to shake them.
So while I prepare to be a newly working single mum, dealing with what little spare time I have being eaten up by committees, I have to wonder some days if strength comes from simply doing.
I walk now because I refused to believe I couldn’t walk then. I bore a child because I refused to believe I was infertile. I have been alone, alone and pregnant, alone with a child, and I have been strong enough to do all this because I refused to give up on what needed to be done. So.
This year I will be employed, and Mummy, and alone. And I will be strong. I will do what needs to be done. And I will be here for others in the same place when they think they can’t.
Some days I will need reminded of my own strength, and some days others will be the ones needing reminded. On days when I can give of myself, I will. On days when I need you to give me a little of the strength back, I hope you will.
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I’m Not Gonna Cry, I’m Not…

We are leaving tomorrow. And I am running around like a crazy person trying to figure out what will expire in our fridge and our pantry while we are gone, because tomorrow is also garbage day; two birds, one stone.

It is my choice to go to Ontario for close to 5 months. It really was my choice, even though I keep walking into Grunt’s room and sighing, knowing that tonight is the last night I will be rocking him in my wooden chair, the same wooden chair my mother rocked me to sleep in, for a long while. MiniSir will be gone for close to 3 months on exercises, and then handing over and starting his new position back at the Regiment, and THEN the Regimental obligations with the Calgary Stampede and Spruce Meadows… We would never see him. It was the right choice, both financially and emotionally, to take Grunt to Ontario for an extended visit with family while he does all of this.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss my house, my friends, my familiar shops and even my (sometimes infuriating) neighbours. This morning my cat was sleeping so still and soundly in the sun I thought for sure he had died – he was fine, just in a heavy sleep, but I’m becoming paranoid that something will happen while we are away.

I also constantly feel like I’m going to forget something. Never mind the fact that we are driving across Canada, stopping in all major cities each night and will be near any store I can think of if I do, but still… I just know I’m going to forget something.

And the unspoken feelings between MiniSir and I: this is the longest we will have ever been apart, even including when we were long distance dating between Kingston and Medicine Hat. I’m a lucky military spouse in that sense – his deployment overseas was before my time with him – but any length of time that you are a separated family is difficult; both while you’re apart and when you finally come back together. Whether it is for a week or 5 months or a year, everyone’s routines collide in an epic “can’t you read my mind?!” blow-out.

So when I went grocery shopping yesterday for last-minute items, I may have purchased a lot of comfort food. I made 13 eggs worth of scrambled eggs to freeze yesterday so the eggs didn’t go bad before someone ate them. I have thrown out anything in the pantry that will expire between now and the end of July. And our freezer is jammed full of random leftovers that can be eaten as a single meal sometime down the road. This is how I am coping.

So. If you’re going to be in the Ottawa/Kingston/Toronto corridor over the next little while, let me know. I’m going to have my own vehicle and itching for distractions. Otherwise, I’ll see you all on the other side of the long, long drive.

Darkness? It’s Me, Krista

I don’t like where my mind goes at night. Those deep, dark hours after midnight when I’m still lying in bed, exhausted but unable to drift off. That’s the time when it always strikes me: the irrational thoughts and anxious fear.

I fight them off, one at a time. Usually it is a terrible fate befalling someone I love – more often than not involving my dear Grunt. Opening my eyes, taking in my surroundings, consciously breathing through it, repeating “Not real, not real” aloud, only really alleviates the current thought spiral. As soon as I close my eyes it’s back down another rabbit hole filled with great and awful things, grabbing at me with their tentacles of persuasion.

The only thing that stops them is getting up, getting out of bed and forcing myself to move and think in the now. My first stop is always Grunt’s room, to place a hand on his back and feel him breathe. He is safe again – he always is. Next I head downstairs to boil the kettle and find some sleepy time tea. It doesn’t really help, but it’s warm and the act of drinking it is calming, so I steep it twice. Wrapping myself in my warmest couch blanket, I hop onto my computer for at least a two-hour Pinterest session. I have to keep my mind of off anything remotely important, and Pinterest certainly has a way of sucking you into a world of DIY you love but will never do, and adorable fan art drawings of your favourite Disney characters. Add some of whatever snack food is in my pantry and there’s my remedy for insomnia.

I can usually get to sleep after this, snuggling in against MiniSir to warm up after being out of bed. But when he’s not home, it’s harder to get past that sleep threshold. Bunnydict Carrotpatch doesn’t talk much, and though his ears are velvety soft, stroking them still doesn’t soothe me the way a shifting-in-his-sleep-to-hold-you husband would.

I remember nearly flipping my sleep schedule when MiniSir was deployed to the Alberta floods a few years ago – up all night, sleeping only when daylight peeked into the bedroom so I could see that there were no fears hiding in the shadows. Now I’m a mummy, and I don’t have that luxury any more; there is a tiny person that needs my help growing into the best big person he can be. So the scant few hours of sleep I manage have to do, at least until nap time when we can both lie down again. For the same reason, I hesitate to take that extra dose of medication my psychiatrist said I could safely take, as it makes me very dopey and thus it is harder to wake up with the baby in the mornings. Alcohol and the pills make it even worse – even with one beer at dinner, I find I have difficulty hearing the baby at all, which isn’t good for me, or for Grunt, who still wakes at least once or twice a night.

And so I drink tea. And eat Jammy Dodgers. And “pin” journal ideas and knitting patterns and artistic inspiration for things I’ll never draw because I don’t think I’m good enough to even try them. And then maybe, just maybe, I may have quieted the demons enough to get some sleep.

2016: A Year of Reaping

 

Happy 2016, everyone! I just know in my heart that this is the Year of Krista, and I am looking forward to making the most of it.

We could call last year “The Road to High Readiness”, in true army fashion. It saw a lot of ups and downs, for me and our little family.

We all started the year off with terrible colds, and I managed to get lice, an eye infection, and a lung infection on top of that over the holidays. Grunt decided he would start furniture walking as soon as I got sick, too, and became much more mobile while I attempted to get better. The constant barrage of demands from the condo board and MiniSir’s trip to Europe in March nearly did me in as I tried to be a mum, a home owner, and run the condo board all by myself.

But… we celebrated Easter in Walt Disney World and had a wonderful underwater-themed first birthday party for Grunt when we arrived back home.

We put the house on the market right as the price of oil collapsed, and nearly sold it twice only to have the buyer unable to get financing. I hired a management company for our condos, and struggled through our piece-meal finances with their accountant to get our books in order.

But… MiniSir got promoted, and we celebrated with the champagne he brought back from France. We had family visiting us in June, July, and August, and in between we had a whirlwind trip to Ontario.

MiniSir went to fight fires in Saskatchewan, but then we visited Banff and Lake Louise for the first time on an epic road trip, and it seemed like maybe we were finally getting ready to relax into fall.

And then my PTSD, depression, and anxiety all made a comeback and I’m back on medication to help me cope.

But… MiniSir completed an amazing “rugged” marathon called Mountain Man, a result of his hard work, training, and the loss of 50 pounds. He also got great career news and now we know we will be here in Edmonton for at least another 4 years.Grunt started walking and talking. The condo board took on new members and it now feels like we are a team instead of a one-woman show. I have lost nearly 40 pounds, with just a couple stubborn ones left to reach my goal weight. And we celebrated Christmas here, together: our little family with matching pjs in our little house.

Honestly, looking back, I can see the ups and see the downs, see the curveballs life has thrown at us and see the gifts. I wish for nothing more in the new year than for 2016 to hold more gifts than disappointments. I sowed many seeds last year, and I’m ready to reap the rewards. If I close my eyes and dream, I can see them all lying out on the path ahead of me. I know this year will be mine, and I’m ready for it.

From our home to yours: Happy New Year, and may your unexpected gifts be numerous!

A House Does Not A Home Make

“I’m just not emotionally attached to this house. I don’t love it.” I said to MiniSir one night while we lay in bed. I figured it would just be one of those nighttime confessions that we acknowledge and move on from. But it wasn’t. 

The next day he asked me to confirm. And I did. “I don’t,” I said. “I don’t love this house.”

“I do,” he replied. 

And thus the gap formed. I could see it his way instantly – it’s the first house either of us, together or separately, had ever owned. It was the house we brought our baby boy home to when we were finally let go from the hospital. It’s the house where he learned he was getting promoted, the house where we have watched our son play and grow, and the house where we painstakingly poured our energy into fixing each of the kinks the builders left us. Typically, I would be right there with him. 

Except this house isn’t typical. We purchased it in a mad rush to have somewhere to live once the baby arrived. Our apartment building confirmed that even though it was adults only, having a baby didn’t qualify as reason enough to break the lease without penalty, so we were short that money already out of pocket. We needed something in a specific price range, something we didn’t have to do any work on, or with a lawn to keep up while we adjusted to having a newborn. We wanted to buy, to be responsible with our money, and we wanted it close to the base for an easy commute. This house had all that. 

We bought it having only looked at it once for 5 mins. And the week before possession, I woke in the night bleeding and having contractions. I was 28 weeks pregnant. We rushed to the hospital and while I was convalescing there under watchful eyes for the next three weeks, my husband took possession of the house, signed the papers, moved us, and set up home. I came home to a house that was already someone’s home. But it wasn’t mine. 

I can’t remember much of the last year. Most days up until Christmas are a blur of sleep depravation and obligations. I volunteered for our condo board hoping to keep an ear to the ground about neighbourhood development, and wound up being the president. My house is no longer a home, as community members, unsatisfied with various things, knock on my door seeking resolution. But even that isn’t why I’m not in love.

The truth is, I never walked into this house and instantly loved it. I saw that it would work and that it was nice and that was that. I was tired and full of baby. And by the time came that I got settled in here, I knew deep down I would never love it. It is a great house. But it’s only my home because the people I love most are here with me in it. 

Some day I hope I have a house I love. I know a fellow military wife with their house on the market right now, and every showing is like she’s got to pick a body part to sell. She adores her house and doesn’t want to move. When that finally happens to me, I hope I feel exactly the same way. 

It’s Times Like These

It’s at times like this one – holding my screaming son while he wails like a banshee because of some unknown cause – that even a hoodie doesn’t help. That moment when you’ve just stepped in the shower and went “ahhhh” underneath the hot spray, and the baby monitor goes insane. It doesn’t help them either. 

It doesn’t help when you’re up to your ears in work for a position you volunteered for, and the work you’ve delegated somehow manages to become yours again. Or the passive aggressive daily emails from people all implying you don’t do anything, even though you run yourself ragged at the edges whenever the baby is sleeping and sometimes even when he’s not. 

It doesn’t help with any of that. 

What it does do is remind me that he’ll be home soon. That this is all impermanent, and soon he’ll be able to give me the hug I desperately need. That he can hold my hand when I need it, or give me a shoulder to lean on if I need one of those too. That he’s been away overseas, but it wasn’t anywhere dangerous, that the biggest concern he has is how much room he has in his suitcase to bring stuff home, and that it wasn’t for long. 

Chronologically, that is. Relatively, it feels like it’s been a year. 

Our son has cut his first two teeth, had his first bout of stomach flu, and had his immunizations while MiniSir’s been gone. I admittedly have pushed myself too hard, staying up until midnight most nights to get things done. I just want to crawl in his hoodie and be left alone for a while so I can sleep for three days. 

But it can’t help me with that either. 

(Are you reading this and wondering, what’s up with this hoodie thing? Check out my past post on MiniSir’s Magic hoodie.)

Stay Shiny: A #100DaysofHappy Update

Have we all been taking the time every day to find one thing that made them happy? Are we spreading our positivity around? Is the law of attraction working for you yet?

No? Well, we are only on Day 21 today. Keep working at it!

This week wrapped up MiniSir’s exercise, so we focussed this weekend on spending time as a family. My Day 19 (Saturday) #Happy moment was when we were walking through West Edmonton Mall (on a Saturday, I know) looking to do a few errands, and I managed to find shoes for an upcoming army formal event that are actually heels but don’t make me walk like a trucker. YAY! Granted, the heel is about a half-inch high, but still – they qualify as heels. Big win. We also managed to exchange a sweater I got over Christmas that was unravelling when I opened the present for another nice sweater that seems perfectly intact. I picked up a birthday present for my sister, we avoided Target, AND we managed to get in and out of the parking lot unscathed. HUGE win there.

Sunday we spent hanging out around the house, having late brunches and whatnot. Grunt decided that yesterday was the day he was going to bust out his words, so not only did we get a vigourous “Da-dy” from him, but were also treated to “Ba-ma” (Batman). Someday he may learn “mummy”, but I’m not really holding my breath. Interestingly, his babbles have begun to sound like certain phrases too. I could have sworn he said “yes please” to me the other day after I asked him a question, and this morning he gave me a hug so I said “Thank you for the hug”, to which I am positive he replied, “You’re welcome” in baby babble. My child is either a genius, or I may need more adult interaction. I’ll let you decide which one.

This week I am looking forward to some coffee dates and a real live actual date for Valentine’s Day, where MiniSir and I will be going out without the baby for dinner. We will see if I can communicate in anything other than baby language by then, and if we still remember that we like spending time with one another. Scarrrrrrrry.