Sunday, December 9, 2012

A tough week

There is this exercise going on that has required Tim to work from about 11 to 2 or 2:30 in the morning so that he can be there to present one slide of a PowerPoint brief at 1 in the morning.  This is in addition to a full workday.  Starting last Sunday night he's been leaving for work about an hour after I go to bed, and getting back home and going to bed around 3.  I get up at 6, try not to let the kids make too much noise as I get them ready for the day, so he might be able to sleep until 7:30 or 8.  Then he heads to work around 9 or 9:30 and comes home at some point in the afternoon.  Then he might lay on the floor and let the kids jump all over him until he passes out.  Then he is awake again for a few hours in late evening, he brews some coffee, and we watch a few shows until it's time for me to go to bed and we start this whole process again.  This is the way it's going to be until December 14, I believe.

I feel so guilty going to bed at 10, with my eyelids so heavy, barely able to brush and floss before I fall into our comfy bed.  I wish I could stay up and keep him company until the minute he leaves the house, but even though I'm getting a full night's rest, I'm still so tired from my days.  My body is programmed to sleep from 10 to 6.  I can't even imagine having to be working late at night until the wee hours of the morning, when my brain is shutting down.  I don't know if there's enough caffeine in the world to jumpstart me when it's time for bed.

It's been a challenge to be doing without the little things that Tim does that I've grown used to.  I've been spoiled.  The sight of the full dishwasher in the morning catches me off guard now, as does the empty coffeepot.  But I'll get used to that when he deploys.  What's really hard is keeping the kids' noise down to even a low roar when he's either on the couch or on our bed sawing logs in the middle of the day.  At least I won't have to do this for long.  I feel for people who live like this all the time.

Now I'm going to tell you about how week one of this new routine went.

Throughout most of the week I managed to stay upbeat.  I got our Christmas shopping done, most of it online, and now there's nothing to do but wait and fret and hope everything gets here on time so I can wrap and mail it all.  I did my classes at the Y.  I made this coming week's dinner menu on Thursday night and took Annie and Timmy to the commissary on Friday.  Tim usually takes the kids on Saturday.  I kept up with the laundry for the most part and kept the house in some semblance of order.  I checked a lot of items off my to-do list.  I did not nap.  I looked forward to the weekend when Tim would at least get partial time off.  He would still be doing his middle of the night shifts but wouldn't have to go in during the day.

Then on Saturday morning I woke up alone and saw that I had an email from Tim with the subject line, "not getting home any time soon."  I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me.'  He had another brief to do at 8 in the morning, and had to put together slides for that.  He said he'd have to do it all again on Sunday too.  My heart sank.  We'd already spent that whole week only getting to spend time with him (awake time) two hours  a day.  Now we were being robbed of the weekend.  And I felt so bad for Tim who would end up being up nearly 24 hours.

I decided I would take the kids to the Aquarium.  The weather was beautiful and I'd been looking forward to going again anyway.  The Aquarium is about 50 minutes away from us, so I hoped to be gone about four hours when all was said and done.  We left soon after he got home that morning.  The kids were on their best behavior.  I had given them a pep-talk in the car and promised them a movie night if they were good.  They are pretty good anyway on these kinds of outings.  We had a nice time.  But even after exploring the outdoor part of it for awhile (I think it was too cold to do that last time we went), sitting down for a snack, and going into the gift shop so the girls could admire all the cute stuffed fishies and turtles, we were still only gone three hours total.  We had as quiet of a lunch as possible (not really quiet at all!) when we got home, and I put them down for naps.

After naptime, my plan was to hurry the kids out to Harris Teeter to get some fresh fruit and something to make for dinner, but Tim emerged from our bedroom and said he'd come with us too.  It was so nice having that small part of Saturday still feel like normal.  I missed his company and I know the kids did too.  We brought home sushi and turned on Barbie in the Nutracker.  Since it was getting late, the promised movie night had to be concurrent with dinner.  Delaney tried a California roll and a tuna roll, and liked both.  Tim teased me, saying, "She holds her chopsticks the same way you used to."

This morning was intense.  We have three Mass times to choose from:  Saturday at 5 p.m. (that's the one we usually go to), Sunday at 8 a.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m.  They are all every bit of an hour and 15 minutes long.  Delaney has to attend Faith Formation from 9:30 to 10:45 on Sunday as well.  I thought I'd give 8 a.m. a try so that Delaney wouldn't have to go to Mass right after being at Faith Formation.  I thought this would be good practice for doing this by myself once Tim leaves.  I've been racking my brain trying to think of how I'm going to keep this family in regular Mass attendance for those seven months.  Saturday night is hard even with Tim and I working as a team.  We've got to feed the kids dinner at 4 so we can get them bathed and in bed by 7, and Timmy is just impossible that late in the day.  I always end up in the lobby with him, and Tim sits with the girls in the pew.  Neither of them has earned a star for good behavior at church on their four-week-old chore charts, but they are manageable.

This morning I was ready to go.  I was up at 6, I had my coffee, I had the kids' outfits picked out the night before, and I was like, 'I can do this.'  We left the house on time and we were already off to a good start.  I gave the girls another pep talk, saying, "I need you guys to be good for me, and help me with Timmy.  You want to earn that star, right?"

It was such a goat rope.  I left the pew in defeat several minutes before the opening hymn.  In the lobby I wrangled Timmy, who was determined to escape to the far reaches of the spacious lobby and press every handicap button (gaining him entrance to the bathrooms, the outdoors, or the middle of church, to his everlasting wonder and amusement).  The girls rolled over and under the bench I told them to stay on, sprawled this way and that, and kept telling me they were thirsty or had to go to the bathroom.  They always behave worse in the lobby than they do in a pew.  They feel almost like they have a license to because they're in the 'anything goes' room.  My whispered threats did nothing to curb the arguing and outbursts of two energetic little girls.  Praying was out of the question.  All I did was scold the girls and corral Timmy the entire time.  By the time I dropped Delaney off at Faith Formation, I had a headache.

In the car on the way to retail therapy Target I thought, I can't do this every Sunday.  I can NOT do this every Sunday.  I kept going over my options.  Saturday night:  bad.  Timmy is impossible that time of day and the girls aren't much better.  Early Sunday morning:  worse.  Because when Mass is over and I'm mad and ready to just take them home, I have to kill time with the two younger kids while Delaney's at Faith Formation.  The morning lasts forever.  Late Sunday morning:  unthinkable.  There is a nursery during the 11:00 that I could leave Timmy at, and that would help.  But the idea of being there from 11 to 12:15, and then having tired kids who are ready for a nap but still have to eat lunch?  (Not to mention "Hungry Rachael", who rears her ugly head every day at around noon if she hasn't already been fed, and I've been told she is quite scary to be around.)  Not going to happen.

After picking Delaney up at 10:45 and heading home, I was ready to cry just thinking about it.  I want so badly for this to remain a part of our life even when Tim's away.  The last time he deployed the only time I attended Mass was when a relative visited.  And it was during one of those times that a two-year-old Annie made her infamous lap around the church right after the homily, too quick for Delaney, or a hugely-pregnant me, or my father-in-law to catch.  That definitely didn't make me want to start attending alone with them.  But I really thought it could be different this time because the girls are older and much better listeners than they were, so it would just be the toddler I have to worry about.

I came in the door around 11, and Tim got home shortly after.  The house was in shambles, and I felt so discouraged and overwhelmed about everything.  Like, how in the world am I going to get through another deployment?  Everything is falling apart already.   He asked me how I was doing, and all I could manage was, "Alright, I guess."  I'd survived.  That was about it.

After I described how the morning had gone, Tim gave me another option to consider:  "What if you just left Timmy at Play Date and went on Saturday night?"  After I thought about it a moment, I immediately brightened.  I finally had another Mass option besides bad, worse and unthinkable.  This is the best solution. It will still involve a lot of effort, but with Timmy out of the equation I think Saturday night Mass will be very doable.  Then on Sunday morning, we just have to bring Delaney to Faith Formation and kill an hour and 15 minutes.  We divide up church events so that we don't have one long, harrowing morning in which I acquire five new gray hairs.  That is one thing that I can feel better about as I prepare to send Tim off again.

I believe I've rambled on long enough, so I will have to abruptly end here.  Here goes another week like the one before.  Hurry up, Friday!


  1. This is so tough. My hubby is gone a lot during the week & I can't imagine it being for a deployment. I also feel bad when I complain about certain things because at least I get to see the kids! The day to day tasks just get so much more complicated when you're flying solo, even more so I am sure with 3 kids!

    I find myself also avoiding church because I just have a hard time getting anything out of it when I'm wrangling kids the entire time. They are usually well behaved but it's constant picking up stuff/intervening to avoid them freaking out. Hopefully your new plan works out for you!

    1. Yeah, I try to remember that too, that he wishes he could spend as much time with the kids as I do, and would gladly trade places with me -- especially this week!

      I will not be implementing my new plan until after Tim leaves, but I am optimistic. It's good to have a plan.

  2. That does sound tough - just the logistics of it all.

    One thought that occurred to me - with the time change in the spring perhaps Timmy will be more manageable for one extra hour at night? And perhaps even the addition of a few more months will make him easier to keep up?

    1. Good point. I get so caught up in the now that I forget that things do change with time.