This is gonna be a good life--this could really be a good life! I truly felt in my heart that if my little family could just get itself back together, life would be great--my depression would lift, my anxieties would subside, and we would just magically be happy. I'm sure you can guess how that worked out! It was wonderful to finally have my husband by my side again after 15 long months apart. It was so nice to have both Mommy and Daddy around for the kids. It was fun to be in our own house again. Many things were happy, but of course, we were adjusting to a new life together--even if things had stayed exactly the same (same house, same number of kids!) while Dan was deployed, we still would have had a hard adjustment when he came home. That's just how it is with deployments--no relationship, no matter how strong, can come out of the stress of a deployment unscathed. Dan and I were on pretty shaky ground with each other leading into the deployment--much of which I contribute to the deployment itself, because you don't just shut off your emotions the day your spouse leaves...you spend months mentally and emotionally preparing and distancing yourself so that the day your spouse leaves isn't as painful as it would be otherwise. We also had a surprise pregnancy to contend with in those difficult months leading up to Dan leaving--we were just hanging on for dear life, trying to will the months away. It was rough. Coming together again after more than a year apart, in a new house, with a new baby (I should say no longer a baby--Alex turned 1 before Dan joined us physically under one roof again) was a monumental task.
Two and a half years later, and I still feel like we're trying to adjust to our life as a family of five. I find myself searching desperately for that greener grass--whether it's the perfect relaxing vacation that really bonds us as a family, or a long stretch of good communication with my husband, or time for myself...just something better than the imbalance I feel most days. I've become attached to another family through their blog, the Ingram Family at Our Sonny Life--also a family of five whose youngest son, Trek, passed away at 14 months old after being diagnosed with a fatal, untreatable disease. The loss, grief, and adversity they have faced as a family dwarfs any challenge I have in my life, and I have so much respect for the grace and beauty they exhibit through their life lived to honor their son. They truly embrace life, and I was struck with a passage Chelsea, Trek's mom, posted a few months ago when writing a guest article for WhattoExpect.com:
"My husband and I were talking as we were driving our two oldest boys to a park, discussing all we had been through this past year and a half. What would we say if someone asked what message we had to share after 18 months abroad and the death of our son? What have we learned?
We just looked at each other, we knew, the answer was nothing. Not a nothing in a sad way, but a nothing in a freeing way. We found there is no gold at the end of the rainbow.
Part of the reason we wanted to go abroad was to see if there was some secret out there. Some secret way to live in total peace, some miracle cure for our son, some people group or place where we could live out our days in pure joy. We never found it and we never will. It was so liberating!
All we have is today. All we have is this moment with our children and those we love. We can strive for fame and fortune, and it may come, but the sacrifice of time to get there is rarely worth it. We can live in Italy, or Thailand, or Fiji, but the choice to be happy and content will always fall on us. There is no happiness pill out there, it is found right where you are."Chelsea addressed something in me that I didn't even realize was there--I have been searching for the secret to living a happy life, the greener grass just out of my reach. I have been cranky and miserable at my failure to discover this magic bullet. I have been taking for granted all the good life surrounding me--such an amazing, good life. I love my husband. I love my kids. I have the luxury of being at home every day to nurture my babies. We're all healthy. Even though I'm not yet done with Challenge #2, I'm ready for a new Challenge. I can't run around for the next year of Dan's unforgiving work schedule/my pseudo-single parenthood with a huge chip on my shoulder, feeling burdened by the inconsequential things that make my days a little bit more difficult--I have to figure out how to balance my mood, a lot better than I have the last few weeks (months? years????).
So, ladies and gentleman, I present Challenge #3: Happy Housewife. I'm going to attempt to roll with the punches, not sweat the small stuff, force myself to smile, appreciate all the gifts I have in this life, and not lose perspective...at least for the coming two weeks. I've read that it can take anywhere from 28 days to almost 10 weeks to break a habit...but I'm not as patient. Let's do it in 14 days! :) Hopefully the change will stay in effect well after two weeks are over, but I'm going to really focus on the attitude adjustment for the next two weeks. In order to break my doom-and-gloom, I'm going to plaster a smile on my face and be grateful--because let's face it, my life is pretty wonderful if I could just get out of my own head for long enough to enjoy it. Here's to the next two weeks!