Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bless the broken road...

I'm a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. Which is why, when I look back over the course of my life and the choices that I have made, I regret none of them. I might not be proud of everything I've done in my life. Some of my choices were even downright dangerous. But every choice I've ever made, every mistake that I've had to survive, every questionable action that has had it's equally questionable reaction, has led me to this...exact...moment.

It's tempting sometimes to look back on your life and say "if I could go back to that moment, knowing what I know now, I'd do things differently." And maybe you would. And maybe it would have changed your life for the better, and maybe you would now be missing out on a part of your life that you simply can't imagine living without. Sometimes I say "if I could go back to my days in college, I wouldn't have changed my major from pre-med to art." And if I could go back and change that decision, maybe in some ways my life would be better. I would be a doctor, no doubt making more money than I make now. But my life would also be altered in ways that would not necessarily make me happier. Work would be more stressful, require longer hours, and I would have missed out on knowing all of the people I met because I made that decision 16 years ago to be an art major.

Sometimes I look back and say "if I could go back to the moment when I abandoned my plans to be an art history professor and go to nursing school, I would." But then where would I be? Another $100,000 in debt from getting my Ph.D and working who knows where making barely enough money to get by. And I would have missed out on meeting all the wonderful people I knew in nursing school and all the people I met working as a nurse. And I also would have missed out on the opportunity to meet a surgeon who would ultimately change my life forever.

Sometimes I've had moments where I've said "if I could go back to the moment when I decided to have gastric bypass surgery, I would." The changes that take place when you permanently alter your physiological make-up are sometimes unbearable. I will never again be able to eat the way I did before. Some of my favorite foods I will never be able to eat again without almost immediately throwing up. It takes me roughly five hours to eat a regular barbecue sandwich. I have to chew it until it has lost all flavor, and even then I can eat no more than a bite every fifteen to thirty minutes. It's maddening. But if I hadn't had that surgery, I would not have lost 145 pounds, I would probably have diabetes, I would still have unbearable joint pain, and I probably would never have gotten pregnant.

Sometimes I look back to some of the truly reckless decisions I made after I'd lost my weight and was feeling the effects of my new found...popularity...with men. I was a virgin until the age of 33. And for a very brief time, well, let's just say I was trying to make up for lost time. I made some very bad, unhealthy, and dangerous choices. And while sometimes I say to myself "if I could go back to that moment, I would not have done what I did", the reality is, if I hadn't made those mistakes, if I hadn't experienced a couple of truly despicable specimens among the male population, then I wouldn't have ended up meeting one who turned out to be one of my best friends, and I wouldn't have ultimately met my husband. And even though Shaun knew all my dirty little secrets, he still loved me, never judged me, and chose me to be his wife, a choice he claims is the best one he ever made.

Sometimes I look back to the moment when Shaun proposed and I say to myself "if I could go back to that moment, I wouldn't have said yes." Sometimes I wonder if we rushed into things. Sometimes I wonder if maybe he would be better off with someone else...someone better. And then I think about how everything on our wedding day just fell into place. He proposed on a Sunday night. On Monday morning we called the one and only judge in the city of Memphis who still performs weddings and he agreed to marry us at 3:30 that afternoon. We had seven hours to go get a marriage license, find him a ring, find me a dress, get dressed, and get downtown to the courthouse. And we did it all with time to spare. He says it was meant to be. Sometimes I still find myself wondering. And then I look at my son.

According to all the dates and ultrasounds, our son was conceived on our wedding day. People frequently laugh and ask "was he really conceived on your wedding day? Or is that just your husband's Catholic guilt talking?" But like I said, every piece of scientific data compiled during my pregnancy (and when you have your first baby at 35, I assure you the data is plentiful) points to our wedding day as Jameson's date of conception. He is, without a doubt, the best thing I have ever done in my life. Every bad decision, every questionable action, every seriously self-destructive choice, ultimately led to him. He is the culmination of every curve in the road of my life. He is the air I breathe and, in my opinion, the reason I was put here on this Earth. So yes, I have made my fair share of mistakes. And no, I'm not proud of all the things that I have done in my life. But if I could go back and change any of them, even with the wisdom of my years and knowing all that I know now, I wouldn't change a single one.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And then there were three...

So, it was brought to my attention this morning that I haven't posted anything in 17 days. However, in my defense, it has been a very busy 17 days. But my apologies to all my readers for leaving everyone in suspense. :)

So, my husband is home. The night before he came home I put Jameson to bed and once I was sure he was sound asleep, I was finally able to take a nice long shower and (*shudder gasp*) shave my legs. It sounds like an easy task, but it proved even more difficult than usual. One of the last times I was at Target before my husband came home, I found myself on the shaving aisle. I saw a product made by Nair that claimed to work in three minutes while in the shower. I thought to myself "hey, maybe this is the solution to my not having enough time to shave my legs." See, I'm slightly OCD when it comes to shaving my legs. I'm not one of these women who shaves their legs while standing up in the shower in a matter of minutes. I take my shower, then I sit on the side of the tub, put on my glasses, and shave my legs basically four times...once in all four directions. And even then I'm usually not satisfied. They may feel smooth, because lets face it, I'm pretty sure after shaving my legs four times I've probably also removed the top layer of my skin. The problem is, I'm very very white. My skin is basically translucent. Which means no matter how close a shave I get, I can still see the hair that is under my skin. It's maddening. If I could afford to spend money frivolously on anything I wanted, I would have laser hair removal done to the entirety of my body. And it would be worth every penny. But back to my Nair disaster...

I read the very lengthy instructions, because I'm a woman and we read instructions. I followed them exactly as I was supposed to. The directions stated that the product worked in three minutes, but for stubborn hair you could leave the product on for no longer than ten minutes. I figured if my hair was as stubborn as the rest of me, I was probably safe in assuming that three minutes wouldn't get the job done. So I left it on for ten minutes. After ten minutes I began rinsing my legs off in the shower. My legs felt smooth enough, and initially I was quite pleased. And then I got out of the shower, dried off, and put on my glasses. While the Nair had in fact removed the majority of the hair, there were patches here and there that apparently were more stubborn than even Nair was prepared to handle. So I thought, "well, this isn't too bad. I'll just shave the spots that it missed and be on my merry way." Yeah, if only it could have been that simple.

I sat down on the edge of the bathtub and grabbed the brand new razor from the shower caddy. I ran the razor over the remaining hairs only to find that the Nair had in some way altered the consistency of the hair. It was now so limp that the razor couldn't even catch it. I shaved up, I shaved down, I shaved across, I shaved back and forth...nothing. It was like I had rubbed kryptonite on my legs and the hairs had mutated and taken on a life of their own. Finally I just sat on the side of the tub and stared at them, muttering to myself in utter disbelief. At this point, I had wasted nearly an hour with my new "time-saving" hair removal experiment. I was beyond frustrated. I decided at this point that there was no sense continuing my attempts to shave the mutant hairs. I rinsed my legs, again, dried off, again, and retired to my bedroom where, for the next half hour, I plucked all of the remaining mutant hairs out with tweezers, swearing under my breath the entire time that I would never again use Nair. When I was finally satisfied with the state of my legs, I gave myself a pedicure, and went to bed.

On the morning of Monday June 21st, I woke up from what can only be described as a restless night, put on my new welcome home sundress and matching flip flops, surveyed my legs one last time to make sure I hadn't missed any rogue mutant hairs, and then put on makeup for the first time in weeks. I woke up my handsome little boy and dressed him in his "I ♥ Dad" onesie and his new navy blue shorts with red, white and blue sandals. I was pleased with how we were dressed. I felt like I looked respectable enough in my sundress, with a little bit of cleavage for my husband, yet I was still comfortable enough for sitting around waiting for who knows how long until my husband arrived. And since I wasn't sure how much standing or walking would take place, I didn't even consider wearing shoes that were remotely uncomfortable. After arriving at the building where the welcome home ceremony was taking place, I quickly realized that not everyone had taken my same approach to choosing their wardrobe for the occasion.

I walked into the building pushing Jameson in his stroller and found two like-minded women, also dressed nicely yet comfortably and with a baby in tow. I sat next to them on the front row of a side section of bleachers and, as I am prone to do when thrown in the midst of a large crowd of people, I began to people watch. I was in complete and utter awe of some of the women who were there to retrieve their husband/boyfriend. Women who were wearing skin tight lycra "dresses", and I use that term loosely, with six inch heel stilettos, some of whom were having to teeter around this giant gym-like structure chasing toddlers. Now, I realize that after ten months away, these guys are coming home with a relatively short list of things on their mind. Beer. Home-cooked food. Showers without other men present. And sex. And not necessarily in that order. But these "ladies", I also use that term loosely, could have saved some of these outfits to use later on when they got home to their bedrooms fully equipped with stripper poles. One woman in fact was wearing something that I'm pretty sure was actually a shirt that barely covered her ass, her legs were covered in bruises, and she could barely walk straight in the heels she was wearing. She was also chasing a toddler and parading back and forth in the building, occasionally stopping to harass a uniformed soldier about when the buses would finally get there. I was...amused.

Jameson did his fair share of people watching as well. He even managed to get so tuckered out that he fell asleep in his stroller despite the noise in the building. And then the buses showed up. You could feel the excitement in the air. My heart started pounding and the nerves that had been so raw for the last several days were all on end. Then some uniformed soldier walked up to the podium and announced the 1-28th infantry. The music came blaring out of the giant speaker that was only a few feet from us, everyone lept to their feet, and the entire building full of people began to scream and clap. And Jameson went completely and totally...apeshit. He was screaming and crying, his face beet red, his eyes pouring tears and his nose got all snotty. He was terrified. He had never since birth experienced noise on this level, and it was not a happy moment in his life at all. I tried my best to comfort him, held him close and covered his ears with my hands. I kissed him on the face. And when all of the soldiers had finished marching into the building, they turned off the music and he calmed down marginally. Then the General released them, they all fell out, the noise geared back up, and Jameson started crying again. Shaun finally saw us and came running to his wife and our poor terrified, crying, red, tearful, snotty son. Not the best place or way for us to begin our bonding as a family, so we very quickly departed and headed home.

The time since then has gone much better than I expected. Shaun and Jameson have actually bonded very quickly and are doing very well. Shaun is able to hold him, even without me in the room, and Jameson seems to feel at ease and safe with him. It is a huge relief. I expected the adjustment period to be lengthy and traumatic. Thankfully it has been neither. I think it helped immensely that Shaun was able to be home all day for his first week back. We spent every minute together, and over the course of the week I think Jameson came to the conclusion that this new person in the house wasn't so bad. And Shaun has been great with him. He talks to him and plays with him, holds him and feeds him, and occasionally just reaches out to stroke his skin or rub his head or pinch his toes. It warms my heart and removes a huge weight from my shoulders to see them interacting so well with one another.

As for Shaun and myself, it would seem that my concerns over how the two of us would reconnect after such a long separation were, well, silly. Things seemed to just fall right into place. He always has had this way of making me feel beautiful and loved. And even after being deprived of the affections of his wife for ten months, he still had the patience to woo me. He's a pretty good guy. I think I'll keep him. :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Where oh where are you tonight?

Oh my goodness. I'm such a hateful awful person. Inviting people to read my blog and then vanishing into thin air. But life has say the least. My husband will be home in about a week, and I've been trying to not only prepare our house, but also my head, for his return.

When my husband and I moved into this house, or I suppose technically you would call it a townhouse, I was ooooh so nauseated. Suffering from morning sickness the likes of which I had only heard horror stories about, I was miserable. And the last thing I felt like doing was standing up all day, unpacking boxes and decorating. I was, however, doing it all in my head. When the nausea finally subsided the last week in June, and with my mother's impending visit over 4th of July weekend as motivation, I was catapulted into full decorating mode. I had already decided where I wanted all the furniture to go, and for the most part my husband had already taken care of all of that. I had also figured out in my head where I wanted all of the artwork that I have collected over the last 15 years to hang. Once that was done I dragged my husband out for some of the last minute finishing touches, like curtains, the one thing that I had not stripped out of my house in Memphis to bring with me to Kansas.

Now keep in mind, my husband has been in the army for a little over six years. When his belongings were shipped to our house, they consisted of plastic foot lockers full of clothes, a microwave, some pots and pans, and a futon. I, on the other hand, have lived on my own since 1996 and had bought a house in 2004 that was completely decorated by the second week I was there. So our townhouse is, for the most part, my house in Memphis re-situated into a two-story townhouse. There were still a few things I wanted to do to complete our home, but before I knew it it was time for him to leave, and the day after I left as well. And for eight months our house was empty, yet full of all the things I'd come to love and identify as home for over a decade.

So since I've been home here in lovely Kansas, I've been trying to finish those last things I'd wanted to do before we left. I got faux-leather upholstered ottomans to use as storage in the living room (cause I'm not splurging for real leather on an army salary or until we get our own house), and I got three short black bookshelves to put in the dining room for all the books we still have in boxes in the basement. And it just so happened that in between the three bookcases was just enough space for two hammered copper vases and some funky black bamboo. And finally, something I've been unable to do in the 15 months I've been married, I had prints made of some of the digital pictures I've been taking since my wedding day, along with the requisite boatload of pictures of my adorable son.

So now that the house is complete, I think I also mentioned trying to get my head ready for my husband's return as well. During the last nine months, I have lived in three states, had a baby, miraculously survived a devastating car accident, been ostracized by some members of my own family, and done my best to raise an infant on my own. It's been stressful. That's an understatement really. But honestly I can't think of a word to describe exactly what it's been.

As I mentioned, my husband will be returning in about a week. My husband that I barely knew when I married him. My husband who I barely had a chance to get to know before he was gone. And when he gets home, not only do I have to deal with the stress of re-acclimating myself to being married to this man that I haven't seen for nine months, save for the two weeks at Christmas that he came home to meet his two-week old son, I also have to help my son bond with him. Because as nice as it would be for him to just look at his father and somehow know that this stranger is his dad and he has nothing to fear, in actuality he will look at my husband with the same mistrust and suspicion that he looks at any unknown person. The way he looks at every person except me.

I'm stressed. Really stressed. I'd like to think that this will be a seamless transition that will be positive for everyone involved. But I know that, realistically, this will probably be a very bumpy road. And I know that I'm not the only one that it will be difficult for. I know that my husband will be disappointed and frustrated that his son does not know him and doesn't want to play or smile or snuggle with him. I know that my son will be confused because suddenly there will be someone else in the picture besides just him and his mother. And as for me, well, I'm just exhausted. I have all the respect in the world for single mothers, because for the last 6 months, I've been one. And it's hard. Physically, mentally, in every respect it's just damn hard. Everything is your responsibility. Cooking, cleaning, paying bills, feeding the baby, changing the baby, engaging the baby, rocking the baby, and staying awake when all you want to do is crawl onto the floor and sleep and hope that the baby doesn't crawl off and eat a dustbunny.

And when you're this tired...your own needs are usually the first to suffer. I haven't shaved my legs in nearly a month. I am officially a fur bearing mammal. But when you have literally minutes to get in and out of the shower and your husband is gone, whether or not you have smooth legs suddenly becomes very looooow on your list of priorities. I'm lucky if I get one hot meal a day. The bulk of my diet consists of goldfish crackers and cokes. And they're all sacrifices that I willingly make to assure the health, safety and happiness of my child. But I must admit, I fantasize about my husband getting home. I dream of sleeping in, taking showers that are longer than three minutes, and eating three squares a day. Which, I suspect, is not what my husband is currently fantasizing about. Which leads me to my last and final predicament.

When I finally go to bed at night, once my son is asleep, the bottles are ready for the next day, the dishes are rinsed and in the dishwasher, all the garbage is thrown away, and I have carved a path in the baby toys to get to the stairs, it's like one of those scenes in a movie when some poor drunk bastard falls headfirst into his bed and passes out, waking the next morning with "dickhead" written on his forehead in permanent marker and laying in a pool of drool. I don't exactly But it's hard to feel sexy when you hear crickets chirping if you rub your legs together and you barely get out of your clothes before crawling under the covers. But nevertheless, my husband will be home in a week, and like myself, has not had sex in a considerable amount of time. So what do I do? Do I say "go ahead and do whatever honey...if I fall asleep don't take it personally"? Or do I tell my husband, honestly and frankly, that while I completely understand his desire to get back in the saddle so to speak, I need a little time to adjust? To not being alone, to not being solely responsible for the house and everything that goes along with it, and to having enough time away from my son to be able to take a 15 minute shower, condition my hair, and God help me...shave my legs? I think I choose option B. And when I do finally feel sexy again, I have a 36 pack of condoms, just in case nature tries to play the same trick she did the day I got married.