I love my Mother-in-Law.
Let me say that again – I really love my mother-in-law. She is a pretty amazing woman and I learn a lot from her.
This year has been a rough one. There has been a lot of transition – and that is an understatement. But this year is an important year, my husband is home, my son Logan is so much older than he was a year ago and my son Eli is beginning to talk.
Last year was the first year Logan could understand the joy and excitement of Christmas. He just started to “get it” and my husband missed it. My husband should, (and I say that loosely) be home for the Christmas after this one. But timelines can always change and we can never afford to gamble with time. But for this one, this very, next one, we know he will be here.
My husband and I have never had a Christmas with just our small family. He has either been gone or we have gone home, or we have had guests. Never – never once – has it just been us. I know that Christmas is a time for family, I get that. Truly I do. We are both close to our families. We both love going home. We both are very much connected to our roots. But there are all kinds of definitions of family. And our family – our CORE – is the four of us, my husband, me and our precious boys. When those babies of ours come down the stairs Christmas morning, I want my husband and I to be the ones who see their faces. I want us to be the ones to take it in, to feel it. I don’t want to worry about someone else snapping pictures while I am just trying to live it, or preparing breakfast for guests, or missing any of it because I am distracted. I want to hold my husband’s hand – which I didn’t get to hold last year – and BE with our small family while we are together.
These moments are not guaranteed for us. They are never guaranteed. And I don’t want to share them this time.
This conversation started and the decision was made last Christmas, after I sent my husband the videos of the boys unwrapping their gifts from Santa. I cried so very hard that night – watching Logan hug his Buzz Light-year and his Daddy Doll in his sleep. I cannot tell you how much it broke my heart to know that my husband was missing that joy. There just aren’t any words for that, but we decided together that our focus this next year would be on us – the four of us – beginning the day he came home.
And so when my husband stepped off that plane it was just me and our boys. He made that decision; he made that phone call to his parents. I know how harsh that seems. I really, really do. I know how much that hurt his mother. But in the moments and days that follow a soldier returning – in our case – to a house they have never lived in, to children who are suddenly older, talking, walking, to a lifestyle far different from the one they have been living – those moments are incredibly personal. Those moments belong between a husband and wife and the focus must be on each other. There should be no distractions – no need for entertaining, no need to have others in the way. That soldier needs to be able to hold his children – for as long as he wants. To hold his wife and his family. WE are the priority and in the days that follow and, in my heart-felt opinion, that must be all that exists. Forgive me, but to demand a place in that is an intrusion into a marriage.
I cannot know what it is to have a son go to war. I cannot know what it is to have to wait to hold him. I cannot imagine that hurt. I can recognize that it is there. No one else but the spouse can know what it is to have your husband go into battle. What it is to watch a child grow without their daddy. What it is to always know that you will receive the first knock if there ever is one. No one else can know what it is to carry what we carry. None of us can know what it is to give a child. But I think that is part of raising a strong son, raising a son to be a good husband, raising a son to be a good father – allowing him to love his family first, to encourage him to put his wife and his children above you. To understand how important that focus must be. To respect it.
This year we made a decision. This year is for us – for our little ones – but very much for him and I. A marriage takes so much work – and a military marriage takes every fiber of your being, every beat of your heart to thrive through. The next year is not promised to us. This year is.
We claim it for us.
I should say that after my husband returned home, we DID travel down south to see his parents, two-weeks after his feet hit American soil. His mom held him for a solid five minutes.