Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kids, military and Washington

Here are my main points for this post: I love my kids. I love the military. I do not love Washington.

I love my kids. I went through a few months where I had a hard time taking as much joy in my work as a mom as I normally do. I'm still not sure all the reasons why, but it was mostly because I was not relying on the Lord like I should have. I was getting bogged down with self-pity, exhaustion and longing for the freedom I used to have before my days of motherhood. It was pure selfishness. I think everyone has those moments in whatever they do, but I let it consume me for a while. Maybe this is getting too personal for a public blog, but I am happily back to where I need to be. For a long time one of my favorite verses has been Psalm 51:10-12. I memorized it a while ago because of the worship song and it's one of those passages that just comes back to me all the time. I'm not even a huge fan of the tune it was given, but it frequently gets in my head without me realizing it. This happened to me when I was still in the middle of my "selfish phase" and the line "restore to me the joy of Your salvation" hit me harder than it ever has before. Yes, I need a clean heart and a right spirit, but I also need to take joy in the fact that I am saved. Even if I'm going about my motherly duties like I should, doing it grudgingly makes it almost futile. Same goes with almost anything. If I go through the motions without taking joy in my work, my family, my salvation then it's all just a waste of time in a sense.

So, I'm now much more joyful. I still have my hard days, of course; my self-pitying, short-tempered, self-centered days. But the Lord has made me more aware and I'm much more willing to listen. I never stopped loving my kids, but I love mothering my kids even more now. I can't explain the enthusiasm I get when I'm able to teach them something new. You could make an SNL skit out of it. Annie recently learned how to say "bye" (well, it's more like "baaaa", but I think that sounds better anyway) and I pretty much lost my mind. When Will saw how excited I was he started running around screaming "Bye! Bye! Bye!", hoping for the same reaction. Naturally, I couldn't disappoint him.

I love that he loves animals like I do. He has such a passion for learning anything and we take advantage of it whenever we can. My favorite place to teach him anything is outside, which is one of the reasons I struggle with Seattle (but I'll get to that later). He's hesitant to do anything that gets him messy, which usually means I have to get messy myself to show him how fun it is. I'm not gonna lie - I've spent some time splashing in mud puddles like an idiot until he joins me. I did a little damage the other day, however, when we went outside to look for worms after it rained. When I turned my back he found a particularly large, juicy dead worm and excitedly shoved it in my face to show me. I screamed and ran away which made him cry and that was the end of worm hunting.

He's been coming out with so many unexpected comments too. As we were pulling out of the driveway the other day and I started driving down the street without closing the garage he yelled "Mommy close the garage!". It may sound like nothing, but it floored me how aware he was of something like that. We've never talked about or explained to him that we need to close the garage when we leave the house, but it's one of those things he's silently observed from his little car seat in the back. And now he's finally vocal enough to tell me about it and many other things too. It's so interesting and helpful that he can explain some of his emotions to me now. He can tell me that he gets nervous when his room is too dark or that when kids on the playground run by him really fast sometimes he gets scared. He can also tell me how much fun he has at playgroup and that he misses Daddy when he goes to work. These are all things that have been floating around in his little mind for a while now and I've been dying hear about.

Annie is our sweet little screamer. I have never seen such a sweet little girl with such a set of lungs. She really has no "in-between". She is either all smiles or screaming bloody murder. Thankfully, the former is 90% of the time when she's her normal self and we can't get enough of her. She's also understanding so much more and able to play with Will, which is fun for both of them. They play chase, roll balls back and forth, dance together to Daniel Tiger and laugh hysterically in the bathtub while splashing each other. They can't wait to see each other in the morning and Will is completely irritated if Annie is still napping when he gets up from his afternoon nap.

I love the military. I really do. We're coming up on four years that Andrew's been in and about three and a half that we've lived in Silverdale. I was thrilled from day one that I was marrying a military man. At that point I had very little understanding of anything military, let alone the Navy, but I looked at them like a little boy looks at firefighters. They are heroes - celebrity level. And my husband was going to be one of them. I have a more personal view of the military and its members now, but my thoughts on their heroism has never changed. I still know nothing compared to the average military wife, but I look forward to learning more and becoming more involved for as long as we decide to stay in. And for those who are wondering, we have no idea how long that will be. I'm thankful for a husband that does not make rash decisions. He takes things a step at a time and never assumes anything. I did not realize at first just how necessary that is in a leader of a family.

But for now, I love living on base. When we hopefully move to Charleston in a couple months we will not be living on base. Even the base housing is there is not gated like it is here, but we will most likely be renting a house out in town. When I started thinking about that realistically I became so aware of the security I've felt living on this base. I was driving the other day with the kids and saw a whole line of Humvees and BearCats driving down the road. I immediately felt that much safer and that much prouder. I love that I'm forced to be reminded every day of the hard work these people are doing to keep us safe. It's in my face at all times. Most Americans don't get that. I'm convinced more and more that most people rarely think about it or come close to appreciating it like they should. No matter your political view or moral issues, understand the fact that if these men and women one day decided not to show up to work then your life as you know it is over. Don't forget about that sacrifice just because most of it is happening thousands of miles away. And appreciate the ones that are here on American soil defending and preparing. But I digress.

I do not like Washington. Some people are baffled by this and even a little hurt by it and I really do understand why. This area of the country is gorgeous. There are no two ways about it. If and when the sun comes out and you see those snowcapped mountains on one side and the sparkling Puget Sound on the other it absolutely takes your breath away. If you're looking for a place to take a summer vacation you cannot beat it out here. So there we go. But…

It's too quiet. You can hear a pin drop at night and I do not like that. I need crickets and frogs and cicadas singing me to sleep. I need kids running around the streets playing hockey. The people are quiet. Maybe it's the base or the weather, but I've heard it's mostly the area - these are not social people. Everyone seems to be hiding away in their dens hibernating even in the summer. Now it's rare that you meet someone that is downright rude like many Philly people. Washingtonians are mostly cordial and will help you if need be, but then they're going to run back inside and close and lock the doors. This doesn't go for every person, of course, but most just like their space. They want their alone time and a lot of it. I understand and I don't hold it against anyone, but it's not my thang. I like my space, but I also love my friends. I love going to a new church and having twelve different people invite me over for lunch. I love having five different playgroups to choose from where I get ten more invitations to Stroller Stride, yoga class, a random kid's birthday party. I love walking outside and not feeling like I'm overstepping my bounds to wave at a neighbor. Heck, I'd even settle for just knowing their names. Admittedly, it also has something to do with my lifestyle right now. I'm a stay-at-home mom sharing a car with her Navy husband. This does not spell social butterfly. But I also know it's not all in my head since I've frequently heard the term the "Seattle freeze". Google it. It's real. My days are quiet and my nights are eerily silent even with the window open. I miss the noise. Aside from the people I love who live there I will never call myself a fan of the city of Philadelphia, but I will say one thing; they acknowledge your presence even if it's just to tell you to move out of the way or shut the bleep up. And that's alright by me.