It’s been four weeks since my son was deployed to Afghanistan. We are fortunate to chat with him frequently at random times of the day and night with Skype. His Internet connection is poor but better than none at all.
He was excited to receive the Christmas tree I sent via Operation Christmas Tree, a nice way to bring a little bit of “home” to Afghanistan.
He received just one of my 4 packages, the others are MIA for now. It’s not the money that bothers me but I wanted my son to have a few things to make life a little more comfortable in his B-Hut.
I stay busy as much as possible, with busy thoughts racing through my mind like thousands of trains. When they stop, a sadness engulfs my soul and I take a moment to embrace it. Then I pick myself up and find strength in the fact that this career is my son’s choice. He is being true to himself and following his passion in life. He is doing exactly what he always wanted to do – helicopter pilot! How many people can say that? Not many that I know!
It’s not gotten any easier for me but I have learned a few things (not in any particular order).
- There is an amazing, inspiring, and supportive community of Military families that I have come to know. I thank you and salute you all.
- Life for those of us here at home must go on.
- My son is a well-trained and confident man.
- Taking care of myself by eating right and exercising contributes to staying physically and mentally healthy.
- Accept the fact that my son is trained to shoot big guns.
- Helping others is the best medicine.
- Strength takes work.
- Staying strong and confident for my son helps him more then any package I can send.
- Being an Army Mom is a tough job and I am honored to take it on.
My friend Juanita shared this prayer with me. Her husband serves side-by-side with my son in Afghanistan – both are pilots. We were all together at the Army Airfield to say goodbye on the day they left for Afghanistan.
“Lord, as he makes his way through his days and through his nights, please let his guardian angel protect his flight.”
I’ve taken to saying this heartfelt prayer daily as my son takes flight daily and sometimes into the night in Afghanistan.
About once a week, someone says to me, “I don’t know how you cope.”
Well, frankly, neither do I. I don’t have a choice! But looking out for Number One certainly helps. I don’t want my son to return home to a Mom who has Let Herself Go.
Evenings are the tough time of day for me, when I tend to get weepy. Taking my vitamins and preemptively going to bed are the cure. Looking at son’s picture on my bedside table, spending some time with my Bible and praying for the safety of he and his buddies help put my mind at rest for the night. Magnesium supplements, tea, and Bach Rescue Remedy assist on sleepless nights. I also treated myself to a tiny booklight, so I can read a mindless escape novel without disturbing the rest of the family.
Our household is noisy and busy with other children, but I’ve taken up a habit of an early pre-dawn walk most days. I look at the sky and the moon, and think of my son who might be ready to go to work during the Afghan night. I beg and plead with God. Looking at the sky gives me some perspective and gets me out of my own head. Other days I listen to listen to “pump up” music on my ipod. My son likes the songs “Calling You” by Blue October and Chris Brown’s “Forever,” so they always make me smile.
Stress eating can be a problem, so I make efforts to be mindful. Keeping junkfood out of the house makes a difference. Browsing cookbooks and recipes inspire me to make meals healthy and colorful. This week I am on a binge – collard greens stir-fried with olive oil and garlic. Greens are a mood booster, and taste especially good on bleak cold days. And thank goodness citrus season is here. Love those clementines.
When funds allow, visiting the chiropractor and scheduling a massage are other ways I like to be a bit selfish. One tidbit of bad news can send me into a spiral that affects me physically. My neck can go from feeling fine to knotted up in a couple hours. Getting out for a yoga class is difficult in this rural area and with a nursing baby. Instead, a friend and I have been meeting twice a week to unroll mats on my wood floor and stretch to an audio cd. This fall, we’ve been using “Hip Tranquil Chick” by Kimberly Wilson. Uplifting music and 10 sun salutations will work out the kinks as well.
And of course it never fails that the day I schlep to the grocery store in sweatpants, I see everyone I know. Getting clean and pretty every morning is a must, even more so on the days that I’d just like to stay in bed. The days little routines help us *feel* like we have some control, even when life experience tells us otherwise.
Surely you Army Moms have more tips to share. How do you take care of yourself? What works for you?