Army Moms Column

Just This Day – 1/4/2010

I know that happiness is a choice but some days, it feels like its getting harder and harder to make that choice. How do I chose to be happy in the face of the mounting bills and laundry and the loneliness of my husband being hundreds of miles away?

Today my seven-week-old daughter, Charlotte, wouldn’t stop crying. By 9 p.m. both she and I were worn out and finally she collapsed onto my chest. But it’s 5 a.m. now and the day is starting all over again. She’s wide awake and I can’t seem to sleep either.

There doesn’t seem to be one surface in the house that isn’t covered with spit-up. I think all of my sheets and shirts have either been peed or pooped on. In a few hours my husband will call and we’ll have five whole minutes to share all our hopes and fears for the day. I feel like everything is piling on top of me. What am I to do?

I feel guilty for feeling anxious. There are military wives who have such a more difficult road than I. These small things shouldn’t get me upset. They’re fixable. I can clean my clothes and clean my house. The five minutes I have with my husband are five more minutes than some military wives get. In the Army, you should just be grateful you know where your husband is and that he is safe.

But I do feel anxious and sometimes I do feel sad and feeling guilty for those feelings won’t make the feelings go away.

I share this with you, reader, because I know that I can’t be the only one to feel this way. I can’t be the only one to face these fears. I’m willing to face these fears head on because I find courage in knowing that you do too. I know that thousands of women are lying awake right now as well. I know that thousands of husbands are far, far away. But if you can make it through today, just this one day, I’ll try to do it too. And although it doesn’t make me feel any less anxious or guilty, somehow it comforts me to know that I’m not alone.

So today, as you are doing the dishes, washing the laundry, changing the diapers, please think of me – I’ll be thinking of you. Maybe we can get each other through.

Donating Christmas Spirit – 12/28/2009

At the risk of sounding trite, I confess that one of my favorite aspects of the holiday season is the gift giving. To me, it’s truly a joy to search for presents that will perfectly suit each person. I cherish the chance to reflect on my family members’ personalities, interests and ages to determine possible gifts. Would my mom like this gold bracelet? Would this book be interesting to my brother-in-law? Is my father-in-law’s favorite color red or orange?

But now that Christmas is over, I have been trying to find a way to recapture the joy I feel when I can give something of myself to others. Recently, I’ve come across past presents and while they hold sentimentalities, I haven’t even unpacked most of them in years.

It occurred to me that this could be the opportunity for which I’ve been looking. I’ve grown too old to really enjoy the teddy bears that used to be my patients as I played doctor or my guests as I served tea parties. I’ve grown too tall and indeed too plump to fit into the clothes that were gifted to me in high school. All the items I found brought me joy at one time or another but have fallen into disuse as time and my interests continued passed them. I’m relatively sure that I’ll never unpack let alone use most of these items – why not gift them to someone who can cherish them the way I no longer can?

So,I decided that if I have not looked at or thought of an item for over two years, it should be donated. I know someone else can find joy in them as well and at the very least, they’ll have a better life than what they’ve experienced in my attic.

Dear reader, join me in my new tradition. After you’ve opened your Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Kwanzaa presents, consider parsing through the gifts of seasons past. Perhaps involve your kids in the process. Preparing your donations can spark discussions of memories that might otherwise have not been shared. I’m excited at the prospect of stretching the holiday gift giving spirit throughout the rest of the year and I hope to see many of you at the local donation drop-off centers too.

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