Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Moment to Myself

I am living the life of a single parent.

Oh, no, there’s nothing wrong with me and Hubby! I’m staying at Bro’s house, taking care of his three children while he and Sis attend a conference out of town. The girls, CJ and Allie, are 10 and 8, and JJ is 4. I also brought along Todd, who adores his cousins and is a wild man playing with them.

But that presents some logistical problems. We’ve had a lot of fun playing, doing crafts, and hanging around the house, but we can’t stay cooped up forever. They need to get out and about some, and that means taking all four of them in the van…to someplace PUBLIC. LOL Not really a problem, as the girls are really cute with JJ and Todd, and mother them so that I can just direct the crowd where I need them to be.

The problem comes in when you have to go out for just one thing. Yesterday, we ventured to Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart to stock up on craft supplies, goodies, and necessities. We got some hot dogs for dinner and headed to the bakery section to get some buns. Everyone was getting crazy by then, and when I saw the batteries that we needed, I dropped them in the cart and headed for the exit. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that we still needed buns!

So…do I serve them hot dogs on bread and hope that they are okay with that? Do I drag the whole group back to Wal-Mart? Is there a mini-mart somewhere that I could dash in to? Leave them in the car? NO. That would make me crazy. Have the girls run in and get it? NO. They are living in a brand new area that none of us knows well yet and I couldn’t feel good about that.

We ended up eating leftovers and we’ll get hot dog buns next time we end up at Wal-Mart. It’s a different situation for me, as I usually have hubby at home, so I can leave Todd with him, or better yet – send Tux to the store to get what I need.

Most of the time, things go really well. They all jump on the trampoline, play quietly in their rooms (or not so quietly, but still happily), or watch TV. We walk to the park to play, or some other group activity. It gets crazy when one or more members of the group want to do something different, or definitely DON’T want to do what the others are doing.

And then there is the matter of quiet time. The kids are missing their parents (including Todd, who cries on the phone with Daddy and his brothers), and that means that they need some extra special attention. I also have to make sure that they eat somewhat nutritious meals (Aunt Jaycie did NOT promise that she wouldn’t feed them a lot of junk food during the week!), get enough sleep, and that the house is not completely and totally trashed. I spend the bulk of the day entertaining, comforting, cleaning…and then when it’s time for me to put everyone to bed and have some ME time…they are needing some lovin’. I’m happy to give it to them, but after a few days, I’m missing my blog, my Facebook time, and our family website! Not to mention the daily sojourn with Digifree, where I stock up on fun digital scrapbooking supplies.

And because my brother is military and we are surrounded by others in similar situations, it truly makes me appreciate military wives all the more! I know that Sis is often alone, when Bro is TDY for long periods of time. She does this for months on end sometimes, never having a reprieve or another parent to leave the kids with (or send the kids away with) for a moment’s peace.

Add to this the pressure of adjusting to a new area every couple of years, which means new routines, new friends, new surroundings. In this move, they even crossed the country, which means a different culture and different weather.

Before they left, I noticed that she sneaks out occasionally to weed the yard. That’s her thing here, they said. It’s therapeutic and allows her that down time, time to think. Time to regroup in her own head. She’s been lucky so far, as Bro is close to home, but the day will come.

It makes it all the more important to have a network of good friends that can help out. Trade babysitting, run errands, just to have adult conversation with!

Of the many things that I admire about military wives and Sis specifically, I have to point out one that you might not even consider. I have lived in my home for about 8 years. I still do not have all of the décor on the walls! Some rooms are decent, others a little bare. I just can’t decide what I want to do or can’t commit to anything.

Sis has lived in this house for three weeks. It is perfectly decorated with all of their things. It looks very much like the home that they had when CJ was born, and with the furniture being the same, it almost feels like that home, but without the humidity!!!

I have the luxury of taking time to make my home HOME. Military families move so often, and need the continuity of their home…and it makes it incredibly important to make it home immediately, especially for the children. I can see where it would make even the parents feel better about their new digs, too!

So today, I say hats off to military families everywhere! We appreciate their sacrifices, both great and small, on our behalf. And to all of you single moms, my heart goes out to you! Whatever brought you to this place, you are a saint to take on the task of raising a family alone.

Now, I must go, for the little boys are quiet…and that is never a good sign!!!

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