That Time When I Mobilized My Village

You two already know this story, having lived it. But it was hilarious. And I’m still blown away by your dedication to my cause. This one is for you. ❤

This story involves friends, spicy tuna bowls, changes in plans, and submarines.

It’s an overwhelming feeling to have the proof right in front of your face. When you know for sure that your friends like you and they’re there for you when you need them. I’ve written before how making friends as adults is much different from making friends as children. Or at least, it is for me. I am 30+ years old and I still have to ask myself if my husband really likes me, (does he like me or like like me?) so you can bet I’ve wondered if I’ll ever have close friends again. You may know how it is when you get to a new location and start all over from the ground up, even having to make new friends. I know I’ve hit the friend jackpot.

It happened a few days ago. My daughter recently turned one and we had her birthday party. Of course, it was mostly adults. She has one other close baby friend, they share pacifiers for some reason, it is adorable. I digress. Of course, we planned this birthday party for when my Sir would be certain to be home. Why we thought we could plan an event around his schedule, I’m not sure. Needless to say now, he was unable to be there. But my friends were. My village. I am so grateful. After the party, once my daughter was asleep, my friends gathered around my table for dinner and laughs and it was great. My Sir was underwater so my friends stayed so I wouldn’t be alone. And because I cook delightfully delicious food but I never really like to cook for just myself so I need to cook for friends and they benefit. (This particular night was greek chicken pitas and zucchini spears.) Anyway, we made the plan to get together at a playground in the next few days with my daughter.

So we met up at the appointed time, coffee in hand. Baby girl was all excited to play in a new house with the kitty toys. She ignored the new kitty in favor of kitty’s toys. Go fig. My friend made muffins for us. We headed down the hill to the playground in her neighborhood and I got a text from my Sir. I wasn’t supposed to get texts from my Sir. My Sir should be underwater on a submarine, doing Super Important Secret Work for the Navy. He said simply that I should head to a certain point where families like to go to watch boats come in and out of the channel. My response was the very celebratory “Are you broken down again?” But I was about to drop everything and go see my husband. My best friend. My soul mate.

And do you know what my friends did when I asked them if we could change plans? They immediately packed up my baby, their coffees and waters, used the bathroom, and got in my car as we headed to the point. No questions. No complaints. Just motivation to get me and my kid to see my husband, even for a fleeting glimpse of a second. I mean, who does that?

We sat under a big tree for shade, but of course, my incredibly independent daughter wanted none of that. She didn’t care for the picnic blanket I keep in my trunk at all times. She just wanted to explore rocks and walls and grass. Between us three adults, we corralled her as best we could, but because my Sir is Super Important, he doesn’t have time to text often, so I had no idea when to expect the boat on the horizon. Did he not expect me to drop everything and run to the water side to see him?? It is ridiculously hot in Hawaii just now, especially when the trade winds die down. So we gave ourselves 45 minutes to see if we could spot a submarine on the horizon. After that time? SPICY TUNA BOWL HEAVEN!!

We stayed there the allotted time, chatting and chasing my toddler baby. I looked to the horizon so often, trying to discern little blips and dots, scanning for a teeeeeeeeny tiiiiiiiiny submarine-shaped blip. Nothing. So we resolved to get the most delicious on-base lunch that exists and still call it a successful morning.

Of course, as soon as we walked back to the car, I got another text from Sir saying he’d be thirty minutes out. Of. Course. We even looked in the channel and sure enough, there were tug boats and the MPs, signifying the boat’s imminent arrival. So what do my extra-super-awesome friends do? They get in my car to get the spicy tuna bowls for us and I set up my daughter a little farther away from the water. At this point, I was getting anxious about nap times and cranky babies. Keeping her distracted would only work to a point. When would we pass the limits of her ability to cope sans nap?

As my daughter walked around the grassy area, there was another family playing in the shady parts and of course, my daughter makes friends with a little boy. He was very friendly and didn’t mind a baby who doesn’t understand playing the way he does–she really just wants to pat and smile and laugh right now.

Then. OMG. Gasp!! There was very suddenly a submarine right there. In the water right next to me. (I may have missed it on the horizon because I was chasing after a baby/toddler who is super interested in walking in grass.) The little boy went nuts! “OMG you guys! I just saw a black submarine!!!” he said to the runners passing him. I waved and put my daughter on my shoulders. I had no idea who was standing on the top but I was sure my husband could see me either from there or from the periscope. He’s the one who told me to go watch, so he would be watching for me somehow, I was sure.

You see, I didn’t go to watch the boat leave originally. I needed this.

And where were my friends? Well I looked over my shoulder because I didn’t want them to miss a submarine crossing. It is sort of cool, probably more so if you’re not a submariner yourself. Being a sub spouse or a surface spouse (or a civilian) makes submarines way more super cool because you’re not a part of the inner workings and you carry no responsibility. Anyway, back to my friends.

Where were they? They were running to me and my daughter at the water’s edge. They were carrying lunch and purses and even got lost in all the base streets that look the same, running up to me. But it was important to me. So it was important to them.

It took only a few minutes for the boat to go down the water in front of us. We went back to my picnic blanket and ate lunch, again corralling my daughter into staying put by feeding her little bits of rice. The spicy tuna bowls were indeed little bits of heaven. It’s really because of the sauce they use. Salty and spicy in just the right amounts. We adults could have stayed longer, chatting and laughing, but it was getting to be too much for my daughter to handle without the aid of a nap, so we packed up and went back to my car. I took them home and went to my house. My daughter fell asleep in the car and I was optimistic that I could transfer her to her crib to finish out her nap there.

But really, I’m just overwhelmed at the level of friendship displayed by my village. We even joked, before I heard back from my Sir, that I mobilized an entire village just to get to the water to see him for a fleeting moment and he had the audacity to not show up or tell me the time for over an hour? I repeat, did he not expect me to drop everything to run to see him the minute he asked me to? Well. I tell you what, I never expected my friends to also drop everything for me, the minute I asked. It was over and above. It was a perfect day.

Maybe it is because they’re both also Navy wives. They know the value of a text from a husband. They know what it is like to keep your phone on you at all times, because you just never know when a call/text/email will come. They know what it is like to fill your day times with activities and friends but then the evenings are still lonely because you don’t have your best friend home with you to share them. They know that we live for those simple little glimpses we get of our husbands because everything they do is so uncertain.

You guys. I have the world’s best village. I sometimes feel like I need to pinch myself and ask if I really deserve them. But they’re my friends and I hope they know I’d do the same for them. This whole village thing is really nice. I think I just may make it through this.

A Whole Year of Momming

A year is a long time, especially when you think of it in terms of days. 365 days is a lot of days. My daughter is a year old now and the last 365 days have been so different from any previous set of 365. So what have I learned about raising a baby in that time? I guess this is the “wisdom” I’d like to pass on to other new moms. (And I’ll probably feel like a new mom forever…)

Some of the best purchases I’ve made have been things to make the stay-at-home-momming a little easier or convenient for me. A hand vacuum. I vacuum my carpets almost everyday but my daughter leaves crumbs everywhere she goes some days because she loves cheese crackers shaped like fishies. You’d think they’re mess-free because they’re bite-sized. You’d be wrong. Sometimes I feel like I just follow her around with a clean rag and the hand vac. A super lightweight but still super firm crib mattress. Because changing baby sheets in a crib, especially when you’ve lowered it down a few settings is hard enough on your back but our mattress weighs next to nothing so that helps a great deal. (Also, we got two waterproof mattress pads and we have made her crib three times all at once! Shazam! Rip off one layer and throw it in the hamper and there’s a clean dry layer ready to go!!) A food pouch filler thingy. Because my daughter detests eating in her high chair and feeding her via pouch has been a lifesaver but I wanted to make her food too. (I also put tubs of baby food in pouches sometimes too.) Really good laundry stain remover. Because motherhood means your laundry multiplies by like, a thousand. And the babies outgrow clothes quickly but they also spit up purple and red and green foods on their super cute clothes. Might as well try to get the stains out.

There will be some days you are SO on top of this mom gig. You will make all meals and snacks lovingly by hand. (And they will be the perfect blend of healthy and tasty!) You will sing songs and dance dances and the puppet shows with their stuffed animals will be creative and educational and there shall be no mention of television to ruin their attention span. Nothing will cause a temper flare. It will all be sunshine and daisies and rainbows. And then there will be days where it all goes wrong. So wrong. Wronger than wrong. You’re sure this is the day that will cause them to need therapy in later life. Just think of it this way. A year goes by quickly. A day goes by slowly. On the bad days, do what you can to get through until bedtime, then start over tomorrow. Tomorrow is a magical place with the potential for greatness. For me, learning to accept that my life had to slow down was difficult and I’m still working that out. I found that if I had nothing to do on a particular day with my baby, it would draaaaaag by and feel a million times longer. Now my daughter is more active and that helps the time feel faster when we have nothing to do but slow days still intimidate me. Just remember that tomorrow is another day and it is easy to start clean and fresh.

There are so many ways to mom. What works for one mom and her family won’t necessarily work for you and yours. Many people say that when you become a mom, “you’ll just know” how to mom. It just comes to you. Well. That isn’t the case for every mom and this whole momming thing intimidates us all at some point. In my opinion, what they mean is that you may not know all the answers and skills, but you’ll get a TON of advice and you will probably know which advice you’ll try and which just isn’t right for you. For me, I’m a big believer that both you AND your baby have to be ready for the next stage of whatever you’re getting advice about. You were told that you should be giving your baby solid foods now but you’re not ready to start that? What will work best for your family won’t work at all if you’re conflicted. Parenting is a lot of guesswork, to be honest. My daughter can’t really tell me in so many words when something is wrong. So, I guess the reasons she is crying. Is it because she’s hungry? In pain? Lonely? Wants attention? Who knows? I’ll just try things until I figure it out. Sometimes I get it on the first try and sometimes it takes longer. But they say that “you’ll just know” because you probably spend the most time with your kid, so you will know them best. Doctors know babies but YOU know YOUR baby.  For instance, my daughter recently had an ear infection and I took her to see her doctor. I was clued into her ailment because she was unusually intensely cuddly. Now that she’s walking and climbing all the things, she rarely wants to be held and cuddled, but that day, she refused to be put down and she would bury her head in my neck. The doctor even said that most babies with ear infections are inconsolable and loud and that’s how they let you know they’re in pain. Well. My baby acted differently through her pain and I know that because I know her best.

Ok. My next advice is to read up on the developmental undertakings your baby will go through. It helps to sort of put yourself in their mindset a bit. As an adult, it can be frustrating to have a baby around who does nothing but cry for a while. But find out what they’re going through mentally and physically and hopefully, that’ll help you to help them. It is a big deal to go from womb to world. There are SO MANY things going on in the first year for them and it is all so hard to adjust to. Keep in mind that they are helpless for a long time. They rely on you for everything, even movement. You’re capable of leaving their field of vision. Logically, you know you’re going to the kitchen to get some food for them, but they have no idea what that means  But remember that things that are easy no-brainers for you are huge steps for a baby or a kid. For example, the first time they pick up an object with their left hand and put it into their right hand is a milestone.

My last advice is to really consider what YOU need to be happy. A happy mommy is a better mommy. For me, I’m a mom who needs a shower everyday. I may only just stand there for five minutes letting water run over me, but it helps me wake up and feel refreshed. The showers where I actually wash my hair and shave are pure heaven! But I know this about myself: a clean me is a happy me. (And by extension, a happy me is a better mommy.) So find out those little things that make you happy and peaceful. Also, I find that a clean house makes me feel better. That is hard to maintain with a child who doesn’t understand messes. So I finally decided to have a house cleaner once a month. My daily chores just aren’t enough to keep up with the deep cleaning (bathroom floor corners anyone?!?!) that needs to be done and I’m exhausted at the end of most days so daily chores are about all I can handle. I understand that I’m very fortunate to be able to have the paid help. And I don’t expect this help forever, I mean, help with chores is like, why we had kids!! 😊 But looking around at my cluttered dirty house was making me feel cluttered and messy on the inside if that makes sense.

So yeah, that’s a year’s worth of parenting advice from this new mom. Well, except for one more thing. Don’t let the mom shamers get to you. You’re killing it! I’m so tired of people judging moms harshly for the choices they made. Do you breastfeed or formula feed? Who cares? Your child is getting the nourishment they need!! Do you work or stay at home? That is a choice for you and your family and only you can say what’s best and there is no need to compare who has it hardest!! Just do you and ignore the trolls! #SupportTheMamas

The Pros of Deployment?

A submarine deployment isn’t usually fun. Sure, there are ups and downs, for the crew and the families, but I’m not sure it could ever be called fun overall. But why focus on the downs? I’ve been trying to come up with a few of the silly positive things I’ll get to enjoy when my husband deploys.

Please note, I mean these to be mostly nonsensical and upbeat. By no means do I ever want my husband away from me for that long. But I have to find the silver lining somehow. Focusing on how lonely I’ll be doesn’t do any good.

1.) I’ll get the whole bed to sleep on. Much as I love a good cuddle, I tend to toss and turn in my sleep. This creates a nice cozy spot of blankets, a burrito of blankets if you will, for me to sleep in, which means I require all the blankets and pillows and room on the bed for myself. At the very least, I’ll get to spread out and not worry about disturbing my Sir.

2.) The shower head will always remain in place. This is a small matter. I don’t usually even complain about it. But it occurred to me this morning, that I’ll be able to get in every morning and not need to move the shower into the correct spot.

3.) Fewer loads of laundry. Somehow, the laundry never ever ends. I never seem to catch up. Perhaps while he’s away I will be able to? Eh. Probably not though. But a girl can dream, right?

4.) I can eat peas again! My Sir hates peas. He’ll only grumble a little bit if I add them to a stew where they can be sort of hidden behind chicken or beef, but I have stayed away from making a side dish of peas. And grits. All the foods I make will be the ones I like. Yummy peas!!

5.) I’m having difficulty coming up with a fifth item. I guess it’s hard to come up with silly silver linings. I know I’m very intimidated by this deployment. Everything will fall to me: raising our daughter, cooking, cleaning, decisions, routines, emergencies, all of it. I have been building up my support system though. I knew this was coming so I have been trying to make new friends and join new activities so that we’d already have a built in village.

Still, the burrito covers are nice!

30 Thoughts I Have While Grocery Shopping at the Commissary

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  1. Hmm. Let’s see if I can find a good parking spot. Why isn’t my husband an O-6?????

2. Will they know my husband isn’t an O-6 if I park here anyway?
3. Do you get a special parking sticker when you make O-6?
4. How can I park closest to the entrance, exit, and cart return stall?
5. Where is my ID?
6. Did I remember the reusable grocery bags?
7. Does the ID card check lady notice the anxiety I feel when I can’t get to my ID quickly enough and panic that it’s stuck forever in my wallet?
8. Is the guy behind me wondering why I’m sweating so much just from trying to get my baby into a grocery cart seat? (Because she always locks her knees and refuses to sit in the damn seat and it’s hot in Hawaii!)
9. Which veggies will go bad slowest in my fridge?
10. Will my husband be home tonight for dinner or will I just have couscous by myself?
11. I should offer to shake the hand of the Vietnam Vet passing me. But my baby just sneezed her formula all over me and he’s down the other aisle by the time I find the wipes in my bag.
12. Oooh! They have the coffee creamer my husband loves. Better get three or four of them!
13. My baby is crying—employ distraction tactics and shop faster!
14. Why don’t they make the labels easier for mommies of crying babies to read? Better throw everything in the cart, sodium levels be damned
15. Do I want deli sushi for lunch or the kalua pork? Screw it! Sushi because I could eat that with my fingers as I drive home with my crying baby!
16. Let’s get in the long candy cookie aisle lane to find a checkout line to join.
17. Oh wait, that guy behind me is in uniform, he should skip ahead of us.
18. I wonder if I could call my Sir to see if he can get me out of here faster.
19. Probably not. He’s got an important job. But it’s a nice dream.
20. An important job that hasn’t made him an O-6 yet. Stupid labeled parking spots…
21. Is it wrong of me to covet those labeled spots so much?
22. Oh crap! Do I have cash for a tip for the baggers?!
23. Whew! I do have cash!
24. They’re smiling at my baby, thank goodness!
25. Oh no! She pooped! I wonder if the bagger would mind if I asked her to wait on loading the grocery bags in my trunk so I can change the poppy diaper first?
26. Am I being judged for changing her in the trunk? I put a towel down!
27. Screw any judgments! I’m doin what my daughter needs!
28. #SuperMom
29. Omg I need a nap now. Grocery shopping is so stressful!
30. Crap! I forgot half the things on my list! Will they notice tomorrow that I was here today???

 

Photo Credit: Shopping With Baby, used via Creative Commons License Flickr

Please Don’t Say This to Your MilSpouse Friends.

“Well you knew what you were getting yourself into when you married him.”

Do you know how much I hate it when people say that to me?

I HATE IT A LOT!!!

I’ll set the scene for you. Ahem.

I’m having a bad day. Maybe the submarine has interfered with my plans one too many times. Maybe I’m tired of not having any parental support from my husband because he is unable to come home. Maybe I’m just not my rosy patriotic best, OK? I am an adult and I know that in the grand scheme of things, my bad mood will go away soon and I’ll start afresh tomorrow. But for now, maybe I just go to one of my friends to vent and complain, and believe it or not, I try not to sound whiney. This friend, usually a person from my non-military life, says to me, “Well you knew what you were getting yourself into when you married him.”

Yes. Many of us knew what sort of journey this life would bring us. But knowing that we’re signing up for difficulties and living through them on the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, deployment-to-PCS-to-another-deployment is on a whole different level. Most of the spouses I’ve met are very VERY proud and patriotic people. But we all have bad days and weeks. Maybe my non-military friends just don’t know HOW difficult we have it.

I was a military kid and I knew the lyrics to the Marine Corps Hymn when I was eight years old. I grew up around all the pomp and ceremony that comes with parades and command events, and I attended elementary schools in five states I think. I was so used to telling my friends that I had to move before the next school year, that once we stayed in the Northern VA area for so long, my friends stopped believing me when I told them I was moving. (My dad’s orders kept getting changed. Imagine!) Then I decided I wanted to marry my beloved sweetheart, a submariner in the Navy and my dad wanted to have a chat with me. He didn’t care that I went from being a Marine Corps kid to a Navy wife, but he did want to make sure that I understood that this life would be unlike anything I had every experienced before. He specifically wanted me to know and understand that there would be secret things that my Sir could never share with me. And that SubSpouse life means a lot of loneliness.

And I love the life I live. But it is not easy. To illustrate, my Sir has hardly seen our daughter in weeks. And I’m not the only spouse who has to repair the car problems and fix the clogged sink disposer and handle all of the chores and errands and soothe the nightmares and wonder if the runny nose is just a runny nose (or is it the FLU!?!?!?!?! NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!) all by myself. So yes, sometimes, we have days that overwhelm us and fatigue that sinks into our bones.

Because I’m an adult, I know that this friend probably doesn’t know how hurtful their words were to me. They weren’t trying to be unkind, but they probably measured my problems by their own and compared them and thought that I should “stop whining” and handle it. And for the record, I know how truly blessed I am. Let’s go back to that.

I married my best friend. He is the most brilliant man I know and I am still baffled, years into our marriage, that he picked me. And I’m typing this while my daughter sits on my lap and she’s so beautiful it hurts. And the job my husband carries out allows me to stay home to raise her.

However fortunate I am though, I also have my down times.

For instance, last week, my husband only came home twice. Why? Because he was working so late that the thirty minute drive home was too much to consider when he can sleep in his rack on board instead and get a tiny bit more sleep. He hasn’t really seen his daughter in ages, because she goes to sleep so early. We’ve tried to keep her awake later in the evening, but she just sort of passes out. Did I think that having a baby with my husband would mean being a single parent for me for the most part? No.

So while I understand that people are starving in the world, or suffering from terrible racial injustice, or declaring bankruptcy and living on the street, am I still not allowed to have a bad day where I can just vent to a friend for a little? Because it’s a bad day, not a bad life. I’m just struggling with emotions and need a friend. So if your MilSpouse friend comes to you and just needs to vent some feelings so that the negative emotions can feel less overwhelming, please don’t remind them that they signed up for this. Listen to them. Offer them your support. Because they will support you in your turn. Because our troubles are less troubling when we have a friend with whom to share them. Because the MilSpouse, and especially in my experience, the SubSpouse, is a fearless wonder woman (or man!) and can achieve ALL the things, but even we need friends to help us through this journey. This journey that we chose, but we did NOT choose to embark alone!

To Prepare

Adventure

My husband’s boat is in preparation for deployment. A long one. For a submarine, that will mean several long months. I know many families of other branches may think sub deployments are short, but keep in mind that most of that time, our sailors are in a steel tube with no windows and no access to the “outside world.” I emphasize outside world that way because I’ve heard tell of sailors on big ships getting Facebook and Skype access or even *gasp* being able to see where they are in the ocean.

This will be my first deployment as a Navy submarine spouse. My dad was deployed with the Marine Corps when I was a teenager, and while I missed him, life at home never changed that much for me. I feel it is a much bigger deal for me to be handling this as an adult and wife and mom. My daughter is 9 months old (ish) right now and will be a year (or more or less-ish) when they depart and it will be my job to hold everything together at home until my Sir returns. The thing is though, I don’t know if I will ever feel ready and confident and capable.

When I married my Sir, I knew deployments were going to happen to us. So I talked to other spouses and soaked in the stories and experiences they related. I felt like if I learned from them, maybe when my time came to handle it, I’d have something in my corner to draw from. And it isn’t like my hubs hasn’t been underway for a time. The most he’s been gone from me though is about 2 months. So. What am I doing to make sure I’m prepared?

I’m in the middle of making “Open When…” cards for him to take with him. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re cards that your Sir can open on certain days. They can be holidays (‘Open on Father’s Day,’ ‘Open on Christmas’)  or other serious or nonsensical days (‘Open when you miss me,’ ‘Open when you are on your way home,’ ‘Open when you’re in the mood for sushi.’) And I’m making plans for what I’ll send in his halfway box. A halfway box is something the sailors get to open on their Halfway Night (a night they celebrate as being roughly the midway point through their deployment.) Because it is a submarine, you can’t just mail things to them. So we make them before they leave, and they store them on board until the time comes to open them.

We are also making plans for what I’ll need to take care of everything while he’s gone. This means Power of Attorney documents (for everything under the sun apparently) and wills. We’ve named a guardian for our daughter just in case something happens to me while he’s gone and made sure my name is on all the big financial things. Every family does things differently but I will be the only one making decisions for every eventuality while he’s gone, so it makes sense for us to have my contact info and name on all the things.

But I’m also trying to make plans to keep busy while the weeks and months go by. I joined a recreation center with a gym and pool and I plan to teach my daughter to swim. I joined a MOMS Club in my area so I can make new friends and stay busy with them. I also joined a direct sales business, Jamberry, so I can stay busy but make a little extra money. My sister-in-law moved off island (and I’m sad!) but my sister will move here soon and is due to have her baby in a few months, so I’ll have family nearby. My daughter is getting old enough that soon we can have playground days and outings to the zoo and aquarium too. I’m determined to make it through.

Sooner or later, most military spouses will be faced with the daunting prospect of their husband deploying. Most of us knew that before we married our partners. And that’s why it is so daunting. These are our partners. For the length of the deployment, we have to go on without their help, guidance, love, and support. For submarine spouses, we have to go without communication for most of that time too. I am intimidated by that. I admit it. I look around and feel like all the other wives I meet are handling things better than I am.

Maybe that’s just it though. We’re all looking around at each other and smiling on the outside but crumbling on the inside. I’m probably not the only one on this boat feeling this way, and we still have some time before they actually leave. When my daughter cries, I have to be strong for her, so I wipe away the tears and go on about my day. Because I’m all she has. Because maybe if I pretend I’m OK, my day will get better. Because she makes me happy when she smiles.

I’ll be honest. I’m counting down the days until this tour is over for us. Maybe I won’t ever feel ready and confident and capable. But I’ll go on just the same.

The Bad Day Conundrum

I have bad days sometimes. Don’t we all? It isn’t that I dislike my life. I am aware of and grateful that I’ve been blessed many times over. I have a wonderful husband who was made for me. My daughter is the most beautiful little girl ever. I have loved ones and good friends. I live in a place most would describe as “paradise” and moreover, I live in a free country and I enjoy a reasonably high level of privilege. Yes, I have a lot to smile at in my life. So because of this, am I not allowed to tell you that I have bad days?

Let me set the scene. I recently met a woman at my church. Like most there, she was quite friendly. At the moment that I met her, I was telling others that I will be looking for a new church to attend, only because I really need a church that has a nursery. My daughter needs to crawl around and explore and play. She is 8 months old. You can’t tell a child that old that she needs to sit still and listen to the songs and lessons and sermons and prayers. I love the church we’ve been attending, but with my beloved Sir being gone so frequently, I really need a nursery for church. I have recently been feeling a sense of exhaustion, just to make it through an hour long service with my adventurous daughter. (“Whew! We made it!”)

So this new acquaintance I made today listened to me nicely and then gave me the phrase I hate most of all.

“Is she your only child?”

“Yes, she’s my only one.”

“Oh. Well talk to me after you have multiple.”

Ok so let’s break this down. She doesn’t want me to speak of my experience until I can match her own struggles. Why? Because she raised several children by herself at once? Because my words don’t even register to her as a struggle because she had it worse than I do? Because I am merely the mother of one child, so I must not know hardship.

I don’t put down the chaos and struggles other moms have. I know myself and I know I would lose what sanity I have left if I was the mother of multiple kids. I see other moms, some of twins and some of kids of different ages, and I just watch in awe because I just know they have crazier harder days than I do. But why does that mean they should brush aside any struggles I may have?

Why am I so upset? Because I wasn’t complaining. I wasn’t venting. I wasn’t whining or crying. I simply said I need some new situation because I know what’s best for my family. So why do so many women feel the need to compete with each other for who is suffering most? If I’m not having as bad a day as you, why are my words so awful to you? Why could she not just listen to me and then tell me how she made it through the rough days?

A woman close to me is this way and it still hurts me so deeply. I had a rough time after my daughter was born. I struggled mentally and emotionally. But this woman told me that she had it so much worse than I did and proceeded to list all the reasons why. I felt like she was essentially competing with me for who had it worse and I felt like she brushed my struggles away because in her eyes, I shouldn’t be struggling. I feel like my experiences were invalidated and that she was trying to “one up” me.

What if we supported each other instead? We all experience life differently. What might be a minor thing one day could be the straw that breaks you on another day. What might be a rain drop for me might be a tsunami wave for another person. In general, I may feel capable of handling the things this Navy life throws at me, but I am allowed to have bad days. And so are you. It’s a bad day, not a bad life.

So if you tell me, in so many words or by gist, that my struggles aren’t worth your notice because you or others have it worse, I will no longer come to you with any conversation deeper than the weather. But oh gosh, it’s raining here, but there’s a hurricane elsewhere so we shouldn’t talk about that either, right?

It’s possible for both to have bad days.