Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Warning for Blueberry

Dear Blueberry,

You should know that your mommy is a goof. You are going to figure this out someday, but I just don't want it to come as a big shock to you, so I'm giving you fair warning.

Case in point: The way I get when I can't stop laughing (especially when your daddy is the cause).

Here's a tree I thought was beautiful, so I was taking pictures of it. (I will often do this when I see trees or flowers I like. You'll get used to it.)

Then I thought, this would be a great backdrop to get some pictures with some of my favorite friends (your Aunt Liz and Aunt Mary- you'll love them!)
Mary's baby boy is just 10 weeks younger than you!
Then Aunt Liz says, "You should get a picture of you and John in front of this tree," and proceeds to say to John "Can I take a picture with your wife in front of the tree?" To which he replies, "Sure, go ahead," and walks away.

So, I get really tickled that he thinks she's really asking permission to take my picture and by the time he is informed that the request was for him to be in it, I have lost it. (And I'm laughing again now, typing this)
And of course he takes full advantage of my inability to stop laughing and keeps telling me to be serious so we can take this picture in front of this tree.

He's a cruel, cruel man.
I'm finally able to keep a straight face, but it's not even worth it.

One day, you might also discover that your daddy is a nerd, but most likely you'll always think he's a superhero (which he is). But just remember, if you inherit his ability to make me laugh and enjoyment in egging me on, you have been warned!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Problem with Mothers

I'm never going to be the mom I thought I wanted to be.

(Though to be fair, the kind of mom we want to be changes a bit from time to time.)

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be just like my mommy. She was beautiful, smart, comfortable and strong. She had jewelry and makeup and high-heeled shoes.

I remember her trying to tell me that she didn't know everything and that she made mistakes from time to time, but I just couldn't wrap my little mind around that.

As it so happens, I did get to a point as a snotty pubescent that I realized she was right. She didn't know everything. She didn't even know anything! I was going to be nothing like her when I was a mom.

Somehow, while I was in college, my mom got really smart again. I could appreciate how hard she worked. I saw her reaping some of the fruit she had planted years and years ago. I got to sing in her wedding to her high-school sweetheart (fulfilling a odd dream I had as a little girl to be in my mommy's wedding, even back when my parents were married). I thought that if I could ever be half as good a mom as she was, I'd do alright.

Then she went and got promoted to Grandma. (They still let her keep her old job as Mom, too.)

So then, I had not only my mom's example to follow, but also my sister and brother's parenting to emulate. And their babies were perfect, so that's a high standard, I'll have you know.

I wasn't a wife long before we started our own journey to become parents. It was a bit longer than we expected, but y'all know that story already.

Then a good chunk of my friends became mothers. My models of motherhood went from an observable sample to an overwhelming array of styles and options and methods. But for me, motherhood was still out of reach, a realm of mystery and wonder.

And then....

And now....

Now I'm within two months (two months!) of becoming what (what?!) I've dreamed of for so long. I'm going to be the one that my child needs, adores, idolizes, ignores, despises, rejects, returns to and (hopefully) ultimately befriends.

So I look to the mom I thought I had, the mom I thought I wanted to be like/not like, the grandma to my niece and nephews, my mother-in-law, my sisters/-in-law, my cousins, my friends, the blogs, the books, the classes, more books, and I've come to this conclusion.

I'm never going to be the mom I thought I wanted to be.

Because there is only one My Mommy. And as much as I am like her (SO like her!), I am not going to be a mom just like she was. She was exactly the kind of mom her kids need/ed her to be. As was my mother-in-law. And so on.

These mothers do the best they know to do. They love the most they can, then they choose to love even more. They make mistakes. They have grace for their kids' mistakes. They give roots, they give wings, they hope we dance. They pray without ceasing. They teach by example. They change, even as their children change. And not one of them is doing any of this like anybody else does it.

So the problem, the wonderful mysterious problem, is; there is not a mother in the world that I can be like. I can and will be the mother I am meant to be and the mother my child(ren) need.

And you know what? I think I'm ok with that!

(Happy Birthday to my amazing mommy! I'm so grateful I got the one and only you as mine.)

(This is from last Christmas. A good reminder to me to get a picture with just you every time we're together! We change our hair too much to be stuck this far in the past!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Status Update

When I first joined the Air Force almost 10 years ago, I would half-seriously tell people it was for the $7 babies. My best childhood friend had been in the Air Force and, as part of her son's baby album, had a copy of the $7 check she wrote to the base hospital for the food she ate during her labor and delivery stay. At the time I was young, single and still planning to have eight kids, and I thought $7 was a great deal! (I think they don't even charge for the food anymore.)

Now, with a baby on the way at last, I must hang up the dream of only paying $7 for his/her birth.

I got an email yesterday notifying me that my request to be transferred from the Active Reserve to the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) was approved and effective Nov 1.

What this means is that I'm the most minimally (oxymoron?) attached to the Air Force as possible. I don't have any requirements (to drill, keep records updated, fitness, training, etc...), and most importantly, I am almost non-deployable. I say almost because they would have to non-voluntarily deploy a lot of people before getting to the IRR, which might happen, but probably won't.

I have mixed feelings about this change, but I know it's the best thing for our family right now. I have loved being in the Air Force, both as an active duty member and a Reservist. I have had amazing opportunities and worked with some of the best people in the world. My job in the Reserves is one of the best you can get. I've been an Individual Mobilized Augmentee (IMA), which means I wasn't assigned to a Reserve unit (one weekend a month/ two weeks a year), but to an active duty office with the same amount of requirements (35 days a year). My main job was to augment the active duty force by filling in a specific position when the active duty person wasn't able to be there, due to leave, training or deployments. So, I was much like a substitute teacher. This is what I did at Andrews Air Force Base, as well as augmenting the unit for special events such as the annual airshow.

Another perk of the job was the free agent aspect. If a unit had a special mission requirement, like a special event, they would put out a request for IMAs to come fill in. These temporary job opportunities popped up all over the world, and though I only took advantage of a few in the DC area, I enjoyed the possibilities available to me. This is how I got to work on the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee and help write an award package for Air Force Public Affairs to submit to the Public Relations Society of America (which we won, by the way!).

So, I've loved the flexibility and variety of being an IMA. I've loved to be a representative for Citizen Airmen, showing the active duty folks what Reservists can bring to the fight. I've loved to be a spokesperson for the Air Force, showing the American public what their amazing troops are doing.

I think this is part of the reason I'm not ready to resign my commission outright, cut the cord and be done with it all. For all the "costs" associated with military service, I've just had too much fun and have too much pride in what it means to totally quit. So, I'm just partially quitting. I'll still have one pinky toe in the door in case I ever need or want to return to a participating Reserve or even active duty status.

But for now, my status must change. I'm preparing for a new long-term (lifetime) assignment as Mommy, and for at least the first year, I don't want Captain or Airman to interfere with that. I totally admire the working moms and dads who handle both roles with success, but this is the right thing for my family for right now.

So, even though we'll pay a tad bit more than $7 for our baby, and even though I'll miss putting on my uniform and offering crisp salutes and service to my country, I'll turn the page with gratitude and excitement to see what is in the next chapter.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Bed is Special

Here's a little story about a bed. You might find it's about something a little more, but don't read ahead!

I have a bed that is unlike any other. It may have started out like others, as a mahogany tree in Honduras, but it didn't end up like the others. It may have been built like others, by the hand of a enterprising carpenter, but it still stands unique.

I spent a year in Honduras with the Air Force. Like all the other "cool kids" there, I ordered a few pieces of furniture to be custom built out of world-reknown Honduran mahogany. Several carpenters made their rounds on the base, showing albums of their work. We customers had only to show them pictures of what we wanted from catalogs or printed off the internet and within a few days, they would return with our beautiful furniture. To make this an even sweeter deal (and the only way it really was a deal at all),  we could have the furniture shipped back to the States with our household goods (read: for free).

I ordered a queen-sized bed, a dining room table and six chairs, a book shelf and a few other knick-knacks. My chosen carpenter returned in due time with my furniture, I nodded my approval, handed over my cash and had it packed up to meet me again in Virginia.

When my time in Honduras was over,  my household goods were delivered to my house (much, much later than I expected, something about getting stuck/lost in a warehouse somewhere in the Carolinas), and my furniture was set up in the appropriate rooms (definitely some perks to having the military move you). The table was water damaged and warped, the shelf was hacked with an axe (the downside of having the military move you), but the bed looked great.

We plopped our full-sized mattress on it, and to our surprise, it just sortof swam in the middle of this giant bed frame. The carpenter must have made a king-sized bed instead, we thought, so off we went to buy an appropriate mattress. Again, to our surprise, that mattress hung over the sides, but didn't make it to the end. Finally we thought to measure the bed. We googled the measurements, thinking this must be some sort of special size. Oh, it was special alright. A size our carpenter had invented.

I found a furniture repair company here with Honduran carpenters, thinking they might understand the design of their fellow countryman and be able to come up with a way to rebuild the bed to be a standard size. After much discussion between them, they informed me it was not possible without destroying the bed.

Now, you're probably several steps ahead of me, but it finally dawned on me that we'd have to get a custom mattress. We found a company in Tennessee, worked out a deal, and when all was done and delivered, it wasn't much more costly than buying a mattress from the store. And, fortunately, king-sized sheets and blankets fit it just fine.

So why am I telling you about my special bed? Other than this being my blog and I can write about whatever I want, I'm building up to tell you about something else.

See, God speaks to me with pictures. Analogies, if you will. And a few months into my marriage, He showed me the true beauty in what my special bed symbolizes. My marriage.

Our marriage was designed and built for me and John. Our relationship is not to be compared to anyone else's. Sure, there are similarities, but no one else's marriage will work for us. And ours won't work for anyone else. This theme has been constant throughout our entire relationship.

For example, we started dating (long distance) about two months before I moved to Honduras. We knew even then we were going to get married, and shopped for rings about six weeks in. This may be fast for some people, but for us, it was what we needed. We got engaged half-way through my tour and married two months after I came home. That's only four total months of dating in the same country, with only two of them being in the same area code.

Then, due to our military service, we had a scattered six months together over the course of our first married year. During our second year, John's job had him traveling six weeks every other month. It was tough. Actually, it really sucked at times. But because of the way God had designed and built our marriage, starting with a year of long-distance dating, it worked. We worked.

(And you probably got here ahead of me, too.)

Everyone's marriage is a special bed. I'm glad there are books and classes and conferences and counselors to help us strengthen and improve our marriages. I'm grateful for others who have gone before and beat down trails with mistakes and failures and good choices so I and others can walk with fewer stumbles. But I'm also ever so aware of the unique design in marriage that reflects the unique design in each person. Even though it's tempting at times to be jealous of what other people seem to have, I wouldn't trade a thing about the miracle and gift that I've been given.

I'll have more to say about this in coming posts, but for now, I'd love to hear what is special and unique about your story (marriage or otherwise).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Gift of Receiving Well

I do not like to learn. I just like to know. For someone who wants to be a teacher someday, this is a strange paradox.

Going deeper, though, it's really that I don't like process. I just like result.

I am most uncomfortable when I am new at something. A job, a relationship, a concept. I want to skip right over to the part where I'm an expert. I do not like not being good at something.

I very much like being the strong, capable, competent one. I like to be the one with the answer, the word of encouragement, the good advice.

Now, I realize that very soon, much sooner than I'm ready for, I will be new at something once again. I will not be physically and mentally at my peak. I'm already finding pregnancy brain and body changing what I am capable of.

(And for those of you who haven't been here yet, people LOVE giving you advice when you're pregnant or have a baby! This isn't a bad thing, it's just a constant thing. I digress...)

I don't like asking for help. Oh, I love to give it, I love to be the one people can rely on. I own the phrase, "It is better to give than to receive." But having Blueberry, even now, is making me realize I am going to need help and need to ask for help and need to receive that help gladly and graciously and gratefully. And all of that is a process that I have to learn! (Ech!)

For the past few months I have been telling God, "You are going to have to teach me how to receive, but don't do it yet. I'm doing ok right now." Somehow, though, He keeps loving me and showing me how much I need to receive this gift from Him. This gift of receiving well.

I just wanted to put this out here now, because it's going to be an important theme for me the next few months. And my friend, Alece, who is one of my heroes, said in a video today that it's important for us to tell our stories, even while we are going through them, not just at the end when there's a pretty bow to tie it all up with.

So there you go.

(Strangely enough, I'm really good at receiving your comments. Hmm... :-))

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote for Blueberry

In the spirit of Election Day, I thought I'd take advantage of the "Let your voice be heard" fervor and take my own poll. You will be able to change your vote until the polls close on Dec 31, 2010.

If you're thinking you don't have time to vote or that your vote doesn't count, just think of all the code that was written so this vote could be taken and all the babies who have gone before who did not have the chance to be voted on. Inspiring, right?
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