I've mulled over this blog post for a couple of days for several reasons. I am fairly private about some things, especially when it comes to my husband's career. I don't like pulling the pity card nor do I think that complaining about frustrations is very fruitful.
To write this post, I have to delve into those areas I tend to keep to myself.
I love my husband. He loves his career. I love that he loves his career.
I don't always like what he has to do in his career--this applies, of course, to the deployments that take him so very far away from our family.
Now, with that said, I fully and completely support him in what the Lord has called him to do. He is following his heart and where the Lord has lead him and it is my duty and delight to support him in that.
But, being honest, sometimes it stinks.
I have, in essence, been a single mother for the past six months. I am blessed that I am currently nearby family, so I at least have that help available most days if I need it. But, for all intents and purposes, I am a single mom. I work full-time. I volunteer several places. I try to stay social. I do my best to keep my house clean and running smoothly.
and sometimes, it gets very, very hard.
Comparing this deployment to our last one would be like trying to compare apples and oranges. We were childless and had been married less than 4 months when he left last time. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. I worked in a job I didn't particularly care for. I was also a full time student.
That one was hard, but we learned a lot through the process.
This deployment, if we do want to compare, has been leaps and bounds easier. These last six months have flown by, mostly in part due to our adorable daughter. Most days, I feel like I've blinked and the time has disappeared.
But, it's also been harder in different respects. A child changes everything.
My husband is doing significantly more things during this particular tour. We are blessed if we get a phone call once every two weeks. Skype has been unreliable, and I could probably count the times we've gotten it to work on my fingers and toes.
But I also felt more prepared this time around. I have consciously chosen to cherish the moments. I don't dwell on the sadness that, on some days, threatens to overwhelm me. I actively chose joy and rely on the Lord to be my strength and husband.
But there are times when I just want to give up. There are times when I get tired.
and I'm not one to ask for help or pity.
Most military spouses aren't looking for handouts or attention or "poor you". We are happy to stand by our military husbands and wives without much fanfare.
As a wife who is called to support her husband, I gladly do this on a day to day basis.
This is why the story I'm about to tell you matters so much.
This past week, I was burnt out. My daughter hadn't been sleeping. I hadn't heard from my husband in a couple of weeks. Work was busy. I was tired. I felt, for a lack of a better word, invisible. Usually, I am good at hiding it, but it had been a trying few days and I was exhausted of fighting it anymore.
On Wednesday this week, my mom was watching my daughter while I was at work and needed to keep her late, so I decided to go look for a homecoming dress for my husband's return that is going to be here soon. While I have lost a lot of the baby weight, none of my old, cute dresses fit very well and I wanted to feel pretty for when he returned. I decided to take the extra couple of hours for myself and do some shopping.
I went to several stores and couldn't find anything that I liked (or that fit). I finally found some dresses I liked at JCPenny's so I went to try them on. Again, nothing fit, nothing stuck out to me, but I kept trying.
Finally, I found a light blue one I "kind of" liked. I went out to where the three way mirror was in the hallway and was checking my image to see if this was "the one".
An older woman and her daughter (who was about my age) were also in the dressing room so I asked them if I could have their opinion on my dress.
The mom asked what the occasion was so I told her.
The daughter peeked her head out of the dressing room and said, "Oh no, you need to look sassy. That dress isn't sassy".
I laughed and explained that I had a baby recently so I wasn't feeling very "sassy". The two women smiled and said they would help me find a dress that was perfect.
We spent 15 minutes having me try on different dresses. We talked and I found out the daughter was pregnant with twins! We conversed about babies, pregnancy and twins, and they asked about my little family as well.
Finally, we found THE dress. It was dark blue and very much my style. I felt good, they loved it, and we all agreed my husband would like it. I thanked them over and over for taking time out of their busy evening to help me find the perfect outfit to welcome my husband home in....and they went on their way.
I got dressed, browsed a bit more and then headed up to the register. The two women were four people ahead of me in line and already checking out.
The mother waved at me and said, "Would you come here for a moment?"
I walked toward them, not sure why she wanted me to come up there.
She took the dress out of my hands before I could say anything and said, "We're paying for this."
Knee-jerk reaction. "No! You don't have to do that! Really!"
She smiled, placed her hand on my shoulder, and looked me in the eyes, "Yes. We do. People so often forget about the spouses left behind. Supporting our troops goes beyond those overseas. Let us thank you and your family in this way."
I didn't know what to say. My eyes started welling up with tears. The daughter was already crying. I could see the mom getting misty eyed too.
"No, really, it's okay", I said.
The dress was already bagged up, the mom had swiped her card.
"Let this be our thank you," she said. "Really, it's the least we can do".
I was sobbing, "You have no idea how much this blesses me," I said.
The daughter looked at me and smiled, "You blessed us tonight."
The transaction ended. They handed me my bag and gave me one last hug. I tried to thank them again and they wouldn't let me.
"People need to tell you thank you," they said.
Then they left.
I stood at my car and wept. God had sent those women to me, of that I am fully convinced. They were shopping for maternity clothes the same night I chose to look for my homecoming dress because God knew that I felt forgotten. He knew I was tired. He knew I felt lonely.
And through that blue dress, He reminded me that I'm not alone and that it's okay to admit to hard days and that, even when it's hard, there are people in the world who support us and who can show us love.
My blue dress is hanging in our closet where I can see it until the day K comes home. I never asked for someone to pay for my dress. I would never expect a thank you or recognition for our life that we live.
but by someone blessing me in that way I'm reminded that we aren't forgotten.
I wish I knew the names of those two women. They appeared in my life right when I needed it.
Next time you meet a military spouse or family member, please thank them. We would never, ever, ask for that....
but you never know if they would need to hear it that day.
I will never forget what happened this week and it is my hope that I can one day run into these women again so that I can thank them and let them know that the Lord used them that day to brighten the tired heart of a young military wife.