I walked into her room to find her sitting up happily. With poop in each hand, she smiled a big toothy grin at me. Considering that I could have caught her “decorating” her crib or walls, I feel I was lucky.
I read something online that said babies need to “air out” their diaper rash, and someone suggested the baby take a nap without a diaper. Ha. Ha. Ha.
As I looked at my daughter and contemplated my first move, I thought, “I’m the adult here. I’m the adult here?!”
I desperately wished for someone else to come and remove poop from the baby’s hands, scrub her in the tub and get dinner ready for the visitors from church that were coming over that night.
Instead, I cleaned off her grubby paws, so we didn’t get any poop crumbs scattered on the way to the bathtub, and mentally reminded myself that every piece of parenting advice you read on the internet will not work for you. As much as I wanted to pass the buck, shut the door, close my eyes and hope for a reverse 13 Going on 30 sort of thing — I had to get my crap together (well, hers really). I washed her off, immediately put a new diaper on her, and had my husband bring home pizza for dinner.
Again and again, I am reminded that even though I wish I could have someone else come “adult” for me when I’m in a difficult moment, I do what the situation demands. We all do. And this is what makes us moms — and remarkable women.
With training separations, deployments, and unique work schedules, military moms know this well. I’ve had quite a few people ask “How do you do it?!” in regards to military family life. Or they say, “I couldn’t do what you military spouses do!”
But really, you do it because it’s your life. After my husband comes back from a TDY, we always say “We can do it apart, but we’re better together.”
Before we were an active duty family, my husband was in the Reserves for 9 years. During that time, I had many opportunities for independence and really choosing to do what our situation demanded. I’m actually not sure how many times I flew alone with my daughter. I didn’t love doing it by myself, but the reward of spending time with our families was incredibly worth it. I developed an insane way of packing, traveling, interacting with airport personnel and flying. It takes courage to go have an adventure with your children in a new place when you don’t know the language, the people or the culture.
This last TDY while my husband was gone, I found an unwanted visitor in my house. Not a burglar, friends, but a mouse. I don’t think anyone likes having a mouse, but it’s one of the few things that almost paralyzes me with creepy fear. This is something I wanted to pass on to my husband. I realize there is no biological propensity for the love of mouse killing, but he might hate it slightly less than me. Or at least not yell about it.
My husband still had one week of training, so I knew it was up to me to deal with the problem. I got in touch with our landlord who sent over pest control. Then I had to play the waiting game — for the mice to either get stuck on a sticky trap or snapped. Either way, I knew I was going to be the cleanup crew, and I was not looking forward to it.
One morning as I was reading on my bed, I heard scratching in my closet. I had my headphones on and put on angry mouse hunting music (Metallica) to get me ready to attack. Unfortunately, I did not catch anything that time, but over the last week, I got the problem resolved and built confidence in a way I would not have chosen.
I know women, military and not, who are constantly doing what they have to do because it needs to be done. They’re not waiting for someone to rescue them.
As military moms, we know that sometimes we’ve got to register everyone for a new school on the same day that we have to sign the lease for our house and keep everyone alive because somehow we all got sick just in time to move. We might be waiting for orders and choosing a home much quicker than we thought. We could be taking a deep breath while hearing that we or our spouse will be gone for this holiday again, even though we worked it last year and were told we’d be able to take leave.
I am fortunate to know bold women who do what their situation demands, even when it’s not fun or pretty. You are an inspiration to me and a reminder that we’re all in this together and taking it day by day, and sometimes minute by minute.