I have read about vacation hangovers where it takes people days to recover from their break in routine. I can relate. However my “vacation” is not time on the beach or seeing the sights of Europe. I have spent the last two idyllic weeks surrounded by kids and grandkids. We helped one son and his family move 2000 miles. As my husband helped assemble whatever needed put together, I kept the kiddos occupied.Then it was on to phase two where I helped bring baby #3 into the world and then babysit two toddlers as they adjusted to a new family paradigm.
It was heaven. It also was a reminder that I am not as young as I used to be. I need sleep! And lifting little ones into car seats has convinced me to start weight training again. I will have time to do that now as I return to my quiet…oh so quiet house.
I used to think these days would never come. You know when you could actually sit down, have a cup of coffee, and read the newspaper (I love newspapers!) and no one would interrupt you. There would be no spills-unless I was the culprit. No sudden dashes to the store at 11 PM because we had snack at soccer the next morning and someone forgot to tell me. No piles of toys on the living room floor-if you don’t count my stashes of yarn and current projects.
But those days are here. As I prepare to return to my calm sanctuary it feels like pulling a bandage off one hair at a time. We military moms rarely have the luxury of having our children and grandchildren live nearby. I lust over my civilian friends situations. When they complain about being asked to babysit too much I absolutely cannot relate. One of the biggest sacrifices I make is to know that for most of their young lives my grandchildren will see me more often as a face on a computer screen rather than a lap to sit in.
What to do ? Have a pity party? Yes I do indulge in those occasionally. But I have discovered too much of that makes me sink and I prefer swimming. So I do what I can to be a presence in their lives. Sending little silly packages in the mail, knitting them hats (My Noni made this!) are some of the strategies I use to be a presence in their lives. And if course if I am invited I will move heaven and earth to be there even if it means painting a room or helping any way I can.
I remember my days as a military child. My grandma came and visited us whenever she could. We loved it. It made me feel connected-that no matter where I was I was still part of my family. My aunt would send us wonderful boxes of presents. Looking back I see that in the midst of all the changes it was not the gifts that mattered. We were wrapped in love. As my dad deployed over and over again that family tie bound me together when it could have been easy to fall apart.
In the same way as I reenter into my normal life again I will hang on to those memories of time together. Of a little voice telling me stories or asking mommy if he can sleep with me. “Why do you want to sleep with Noni? ” ” Because I love her.” That is enough fuel to sustain me until I see them all again.
Thank goodness for Facetime and Skype and free long distance calls. ( For those of you who are not old enough to remember we used to pay 20 cents a minute for that!) And thanks for other Sisters who understand how hard it can be to so distant from our children, especially when they do scary things. As I work through my “vacation hangover” in these next few days and get used to the hole in my heart again, I take courage in knowing I am not alone. We are all missing someone right now.