I’ve been working on this post for weeks…pretty much since I last posted in March. It’s now May. It seems to be hitting me often lately…how hard this life truly is. It may be my day to day, but that doesn’t make it easier. I may have developed coping skills to help with the heartache of saying see ya later, but it’s still hard.
Every hug with a lump in my throat…every deep sigh in the car outside a coffee shop… every pat on the leg by my preteen who sees the stress I can’t even begin to hide…it’s all a reminder that this is hard.
Every time my nine year old points out, “That’s probably the last time, ever, that I’ll (fill in the blank)”…every time our thirteen year old asks to get together with friends, friends he won’t see anymore in a matter of weeks…every time our daughter pats my on the leg because she sees the stress I’m not at all good at hiding…I remember that this is hard.
I was looking through my posts from last year and saw the one about having military kids. I read through it with such pride for the kids we’re raising. I’m so honored to be their mother. At the same time, I felt a little sad at how strong they are learning to be at such a young age. It’s a mixed bag, that’s for sure. And I feel guilty about that. Like there’s not enough Mom guilt to be had, I feel the weight of the stress I’m under and the stress their under as we change their world up…again.
What a reminder it is of how hard this is. Kids are brilliant reminders.
A friend told me recently, though, that I can forgive myself. She felt like I needed to hear it, and I did. Yes, they’re being uprooted. Yes, it’s hard. But they are incredible kids too. This life has taught them confidence and given them opportunities they wouldn’t have had otherwise. They’ve had experiences in their single digit years that were firsts for me in my thirties and that some people never get the chance to see or do! I give myself permission to acknowledge that this is hard, but it’s also good. It’s also refreshing. It’s also incredible and an adventure. You can have permission too, if you need it.
I’m not sure who needs it out there, but I’m fairly confident that someone does because I keep receiving the message that this needs to be finished and posted. So, whomever you are…listen up! Forgive yourself for how hard being a military family can be.
This is hard. And exhausting. It’s true and it’s okay to say so. Some days you might need to shorten the to-do list, to forgive crappy dinners (pizza twice in a week, anyone?), or just breathe with the people you need to breathe with (not-so-baby girl and I went to a movie and cuddled through the whole thing). Other days you might clean every room and fold every piece of laundry. It’s all right. It’s all normal. Heck, that’s life!
Grant yourself a break, a chance to wallow, or a reason to laugh when you need it! Whatever it is that helps you deal with stress – sex, karaoke, chocolate, all three together – do it! Be thankful for the reminders that hard is a part of life and being beaten down by it is perfectly acceptable as long as you take a deep breathe and keep on keeping on.
If not for these really difficult days, if not for the tears and sighs, if not for all of that that bogs me down when I remember it’s hard…I wouldn’t have people everywhere. I wouldn’t have friends who get my humor in every corner of the country. I wouldn’t have hugs waiting for me at so many reunions. I wouldn’t have gotten to taste all the foods or see all the sights. These gifts that have been given to me and have been given to our family…they’re impressive and note-worthy.
This exhausting life is worth it. I’ve got the memories, friendships, and pictures to prove it! There is joy in the life of a military family. And, like those that have seen loss, our family has learned, time and again, to find and hold on to those joys. May you find that peace in your turbulent world too.
Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
I forget that this life is hard, maybe because I am not hard. I hope that’s the case for you too. I hope you find the love and joy in your heartaches and struggles. Those reminders are there too.
Reminders are all around…shining brilliantly.