Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Blessing in Disguise + A Peek Into Aisley's Day

Over and over I've had to tell people about our situation with Giordy's ETS, and over and over I've heard the same sentiments.  They're all along the same lines of shocked apologies and statements of what "bad timing" this is, mixed in with well wishes and some golden advice. But honestly, there will never be a "good" time to lose a job you want. We're just choosing to see it as a good thing.
The Army gave my husband 45 days of paid leave, and it has been the biggest gift.

It's given us time to be a family. 

I don't think I've ever, in the entire length of our relationship, spent this much time with my husband. We have never had the opportunity to spend so much time to relax, with no agenda of being back on post before the end of block leave. We were always rushing around to try to visit four families in four different states in the mere 28 days a year we had to do whatever we wanted. Now, we've spent time with my parents with no agenda at all. None. We even managed to expand our scant wardrobes, and even bought...wait for it......jackets. If that isn't a wonderful farewell to Fort Irwin, I don't know what is. We didn't even have to make an entire day out of shopping or rush around like crazy people, because there are stores near here. Weird. I know.

It's let Aisley know her daddy. 

In the nicest way possible, Aisley has never been a daddy's girl. (Have hope, sweetheart, she's still little). He just wasn't physically able to spend enough time with her when he was always rushing off to work and out to the field. Now, we are equal parents.
Aisley wakes up in the morning with her daddy, and they go downstairs to play on the floor with her dogs toys while they all watch Mickey Mouse.
I make her breakfast and we switch off feeding her and making our own breakfasts and coffee once she's done playing.  (Note that her dog always, always lurks in the corner of photos)
She takes a nap and we go about our day. We have more time to enrich her life together. We take her new places daily. There
are new places to go daily. Throughout the day she's so much happier. She has more opportunities to be on the floor exploring things for herself, because she doesn't always have to be where I am. She has the opportunity to choose her daddy.
We've even taken her shooting. Twice. And she LOVED it. (In this family...we start them young)

It's strengthened our marriage. 

We were concerned. We had a huge concern that when the stress and uncertainty hit our relationship, that it would take a serious toll. While it's still possible, and probable once our schedules start to conflict, for now, it's made us as strong as ever. Why? I'm not sure. For one, every night is "date night."  We never have homework or extra things to do after work or anything to get up for in the morning. If we want to lay on the couch and watch a movie, we do. It's the little things in a marriage that matter. Besides that, I think it's validated our faith in each other. While we've always trusted each other, this is proof. We've never had such a need to be supportive of one another, and as a result, we've risen to the occasion and were more trusting and supportive than ever. If I'm being fully honest, I don't understand or love Giordy's top job pursuit or overall plan. But it works, and it's what he wants...and because of that I'm nothing but supportive. 

It's broadened our horizons. 

At the risk of sounding like fresh 18-year-olds, we can do whatever we want.  Whatever.  We.  Want.  We thought we would be spending this time being told where to move and Giordy would be assigned a new job at a new unit.  I thought my job or lack thereof would be dependent on childcare options and what kind of jobs were available.  Instead, we can go anywhere.  Either or both of us could rise to be the breadwinner.  It's to be determined who will stay home with Aisley or if she'll be in daycare.  We're forming a picture of how it will go, but for the first time ever, it's entirely up to us.

Our time in transition is a gift, not a burden.  I'm hoping that people will begin to see how great this can be for us.  We know we'll be okay.  We know we're going to make something great of our lives.  What we do in the meantime is a blessing for our family.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why an ETS is infinitely more heartbreaking than a PCS

I knew I was leaving Fort Irwin.  Re-enlistment or not, we had to go.  Since the birth of my daughter, I've been looking forward to our PCS.  That was the next major stepping stone...the next thing to check off on my life-long obsession with lists.  We knew where ever we went, it would be a better place.  We knew wherever we went, we couldn't be any further from civilization than we were in Fort Irwin.
So why was it that I found myself driving out of the gate teary-eyed?  What changed when it was an ETS move rather than a PCS?
I knew I was going to be upset leaving my neighborhood.  This had become my new family.  We had laughed together, cried together, endured natural disaster, our fair share of drama, and even had a hand in raising each other's children.  Now, I'll be with my own flesh and blood, but somehow, it doesn't seem the same.  I know that I may not be moving into the type of neighborhood where everyone knows each other, knows what everyone's spouse does, and where everyone throws their kids into the street while the adults all gather on someone's front porch.  No more USO events, no more meeting up with friends for events at Army field, no more Tuesday play groups, and no more splash park meetups every day in between.  I'm losing my built in "village."
When we were planning a PCS, we figured we would move out of one neighborhood like this, and into a very similar one.  I would lose one village, but gain another where we could sit around by the wash basin and scrub out our clothes before hanging them to dry (figuratively, of course).  We would be in the same lifestyle.  We would have stability.  Some other girl may love the freedom that this brings, but a girl like me thrives on stability.
With a PCS move, all these thing are a given.  A few moves later, you start running into people you know again, and you end up with a tightly woven network of support and love with some people you've known forever, and others who you've just met, but are somehow equally as close.
With an ETS, you're open to the whole world.  You can go anywhere, you can do anything.  Its as exhilarating as it is terrifying.  It needs a big caution sticker: "Experiences may vary."  I'll have my family, but I'm mourning the loss of the social life that I have now, and the friends and sense of community that my daughter would have grown up with.  I'm mourning the loss of job security and housing security.  I'm mourning the loss of my ability to stay home with my daughter.  She's my whole world, and I physically don't know how I could possibly leave her.
Our ETS is heartbreaking for me.  We didn't just lose a house and our neighbors, we lost our stability.  We lost a way of life.
As much as I put a negative spin on this, I have no option but to make the best of it. So I packed my bags, said goodbye to my closest friends in my driveway, took my baby and my dog, and drove away without shedding a single tear until I crossed the gate. I said goodbye to post, goodbye to the gate, and goodbye to the tanks, all while saying hello to something that just may be much better.
Welcome? More like goodbye......