365+ days of waking up next to this kind, marvelous, loving man of mine:
That is the goal.
My eyes search the ceiling in the dark, listening to his soft breathing and the whir of the monitor. We’re all here- my husband, my daughter, and me. The three of us together under this new roof-this should be enough.
Except this roof is housed under a sky far, far away from the comforts I knew in our American homeland. We have moved ourselves to a third world country, and my heart, mind and soul are feeling far from settled. But this is better than what we had before, right?
Before we had faced a long string of deployments, leaving our family in great need of time together. This place, this chapter, these new orders, this new duty station can provide precious time. In the first few weeks I grapple with my footing. I’m an inner war of I should be happy and thankful dueling against this might be our hardest move, why did I have to move here?
Now it’s been 45 days since we landed, and rhythm has been discovered. Each day has four parts: survival, a lesson, finding the good, and shaping a new reality.
Part One: Survival.
Our shelter is provided by the job we moved for, and our clothing and toiletries lugged by our suitcases. Food is next on the list. We learn how to best get around, which at current entails lots of exercise on two legs. My arms are getting toned pushing the stroller, and my back is getting stronger as I lug our two year old in the carrier. We walk in search of food, and once acquired we order in broken bits of foreign tongue and hopeful hand gestures. We’re getting used to be being stared at. I sing one of these things is not like the other in my head; we’re the sore thumbs sticking out in mismatched glory. Groceries in hand, we advance to the next stages.
Parts Two and Three: Learning a Lesson and Finding the Good
Most days my emotions are raw and exhausted from these two. They follow each other around, nipping and biting and begging to be seen.
Lesson: Wash all eggs and produce in a vat of soap and water so we don’t get sick. Soak lettuce leaves in vinegar for the same reason. My hands stink and my counters are covered in fruit that needs to dry. I’ve picked off a whole cat’s worth of hair from our last purchased bucket of strawberries. Cringing, I scrub at old bird crap settled on shells.
Good: We have access to fresh eggs and produce!
Lesson: The house is not insulated by much, and the heaters occasionally work and sometimes do not. When pulling a plug out of the wall, sometimes the entire outlet follows, crumbling out in my hand. We’re covered in cozy blankets constantly, and learning to stuff those outlets back in with a shrug.
Good: We have a roof, that’s more than I can say for the children that came begging at my door the other day. We have also have access to power.
Lesson: The days can be long and lonely as that beautiful man of mine works hard for us.
Good: The man comes home at the end of the day. Daddy time, date night: they are real things here.
It’s a daily choice to look for both lessons and then finding the good within them. Each time the good is discovered (or begrudgingly noted) we take another step forward in acceptance.
Part Four: Shaping a New Reality
Sitting at my desk at the end another day here, I can hear my husband brushing his teeth in the bathroom. My child is already in bed, worn out from a playdate with new found friends. We were able to welcome daddy home with shrieks of joy and a meal we made together- she loves to play in the produce wash buckets.
The adjustment period of hard is starting to give way to a new life.
The best parts of my life always seem to come from great challenge. Back to back deployments mean fighting like hell to get back on the same page in our marriage. But our marriage is strong. Hours of labor painfully racked my body, but they granted me my baby girl. Living here- we face four daily challenges that are getting easier in time.
Our new reality is that we are shaping this chapter as three. Not one alone on deployment. Not mother and daughter forging along. We are three under this roof; in this foreign land, making a home of endless memories and hours of precious time.
Lindsay is a military wife, mom, and writer. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. http://www.upliftinganchor.