The Deployment Diary

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Day 222 - The Military Spouse Curse

Ask any military spouse. He or she will tell you, the curse is real and it awaits the moment the soldier leaves to rear its ugly head. Every spouse has his/her stories. We eventually learn, that no matter how bad, no matter how grueling, there will come a day when we can look back on the experiences and laugh.

The Military Spouse Curse is this: if something bad is going to happen, it will happen when the soldier is away from home. I have example after example I could share. Here are two:

Date: June, 1998
Where: The boonies of North Pole, AK
Soldier: Gone to the field.

We had just moved into the only place we could find in the interior that would allow dogs. The neighbors from hell lived above us. A female Army LT lived next door who felt our pain of dealing with the family of six upstairs who slept all day and partied hardy all night.

We had barely gotten settled when my husband was to leave for the field. No problem. I had a new puppy and an eleven month old baby to keep me busy. As with all places you move into, each has it's own quirks you find out about as the time passes. For this one particular "home," it was the back door. You see, you could turn the handle on the inside to get out - even if it was locked on the outside. This spells disaster for the woman who has never lived in a place she hasn't locked herself out of.

It was 7:30 in the morning, the morning he left for the field. Daughter was in the high chair enjoying some dry cereal while I cleaned up the breakfast dishes. The puppy husband had wanted was needing to go out. I took the puppy out the back door, but the step was too high for the baby to get into the yard. I stepped out the door a bit farther to pick up the puppy and place her in the grass. Just as I reached, my foot moved and the door slammed shut behind me. Panic sets in as I find, to my horror, the door is locked.

My baby is locked in, I'm locked out, the LT next door has already left for work, the crazy neighbors upstairs were away, the closest neighbor was too far to run to and leave my baby in the house alone. What if she choked? I couldn't get to her!

The windows were double glass - very thick, and all I had on the porch was a wicker table. It wasn't going to break that glass. I run around to the front and look in the dining room window. Daughter is happily eating and watching Barney. I start to cry...I'm the worst mother in the world. She could choke (can you tell I have a fear of my babies choking?) and it's all my fault for even opening a door - much less going outside while my baby had FOOD!

Panic grips me even harder. I push on the front door. The door, mind you, I had dead bolted BEFORE taking the dog out the back. Why of course! My thinking was, while I had my head out the back door, someone could sneak in the front door and steal my child! I had just seen something on a Lifetime movie the night before with that very scenario! But of course it could happen, in the sticks of Alaska!

I push on the front door. It gives a tad - the door and the door facing are not a snug fit. A word about me, if I'm mad or I'm scared, when tears start to flow - get out of the way. I have lost my mind and downshifted into crazy woman. Approach at your own risk.

I take my shoulder to the door. OUCH! It gives a bit more though. I take my shoulder to the door even harder - it gives more, but I think I've hurt myself. Standing in my sandals, I remember that my legs are the strongest part of my stick woman body. I'd just spent 8 months lifting weights to lose baby fat and get into my old clothes. I'm wearing the darn sandals - but kick the heck out of the door. I notice it's splitting around the deadbolt area. This is good!

I look in the window and tell daughter (who was not worried), not to worry, Mommy's coming. I'm sure this child thought, "I'm not positive I want that crying crazy lady getting in here! Who is that tear stained faced, medusa haired mad woman out there calling herself mommy? Daddy??! Daddy?! Someone's taken Mommy and replaced her with a monster!"

If my child will need therapy, this will be the childhood memory that will cause it.

I go back to the door, sure panic engulfing me - and kicked the hell out of that door over and over until it swung open. I ran in and hugged my baby....

Then I do what I do whenever something happens, I call Mother in hysterics. I'm surprised the poor woman isn't on Prozac just to deal with her daughter ;).

She answers the phone and immediately says "Ok, calm down. What happened? First things first. Is the baby ok?"

I take a deep breath and explain the entire scenario, ending with - I've just demolished the door and the door facing and now have to call my landlord. The woman who is awful to deal with, didn't want to rent to us because of the dog - and explain that because of a dog she didn't know we've added to the family, I have just destroyed the front door. Husband is gone and I will probably get us evicted.

Long story short, the landlord came out and to my surprise, laughed. She couldn't believe that stick woman here kicked in the solid wood front door that was on her rental unit. She of course, didn't find it funny enough to not have me pay for the repairs, but eviction was off the table. I believe it cost us around several hundred dollars for all the repairs. I've blocked that part from my memory though due to the sheer trauma of it all lol.

Husband called about an hour after the incident to say good-bye before he rolled out. I explained the situation and he laughed. Only his wife would kick in a door...why hadn't I called him? After I explained I couldn't find the phone we kept in the pine tree (rolling eyes), I had little choice living in the STICKS lol. Reminding him how much I love the fact he volunteered us for Alaska. It's not easy being married to me ;).

___________________________

Date: January, 1999
Where: The boonies of North Pole, AK
Soldier: Gone to JRTC.

Three days before he left, the Explorer ate a belt. This belt should get at least 70,000 miles on it, however, it was eaten at 20,000 miles. The Ford Dealership replaced the belt and the second belt was soon eaten also. They finally decide it needs a new part, and that part will take over a week to get in. Meanwhile, my husband is leaving for a month, we only have one vehicle and Ford does not offer loaner cars when their under-warranty vehicles crap out.

Short version? Baby and I are stuck in the sticks with no vehicles - at the mercy of Ford to come get us when the Explorer is ready.

Just as luck would have it, a huge snow storm happens the week they should be coming out. By this time, the rental we live in has been sold and our new landlord is a man. A man who thinks all women are idiots.

Day one of snow storm I call the landlord and tell him the snow plow guy hasn't plowed our drive. He calls back to say he talked to snow plow guy and yes he has. I say, "I'm looking out my window and I can assure you he has not been here."

Day two of snow storm. I call the landlord and tell him the snow plow man has not been out - at all. We are now waist deep in snow. He again returns my call to inform me that yes, the snow plow guy has plowed it twice now, and insinuates that maybe I should get a life and stop bothering him. I tell him that Ford is on their way to pick me up to get our vehicle. They can't get down the drive. He says, in no uncertain terms, that he sure hates it for me.

With little choice, I carry my eighteen month old, my purse and her car seat through waist deep snow in some places, a half mile to get to the main road for the Ford Courtesy Van service to pick us up. As I make my way through the snow, in the cold, not only carrying our baby, but 50 pounds of crap along for the trek, I'm thinking about how much I'd like to thank my husband again for volunteering us for Alaska.

Upon returning, the Explorer makes it down the road, but gets stuck half way up the drive to the house. I leave the truck running, with the baby inside (checking three times to make sure the doors are not locked) and get the snow shovel off the porch. I procede for the next hour, to dig a trench from where the truck is stuck, to the front of the house. Afterall, it has to be close enough to be able to plug in.

I finally, soaking wet and frozen, call the landlord again. This time, I'm not so friendly. I tell him what I've just gone through to get the darn truck close enough to the house to plug it in. If he doesn't get that snow plow guy out here, I'm calling JAG and getting the Army involved. Angry, he says he's on his way out and he's not thrilled. He has no idea why I keep calling him. The snow plow guy has billed him for two trips out there to clear the road and our drive. He just called to let him know that he had just finished plowing our drive - again.

Imagine my glare as Mr. Man pulls up an hour later and HIS truck gets stuck in the waist deep snow that I'm only imagining. I would be lying if I said I wasn't gloating - asking him how in the world his truck also got stuck in imaginary snow. He asks to use my phone. After several minutes of angry landlord finally being angry at snow plow man - it seems that snow plow man was indeed plowing. The problem was, he was plowing the drive on the OTHER end of the road. Someone had been getting their drive plowed for free. That evening, I took photos of the plow man who finally showed up and cleared our drive. The mountain of snow to the right of our unit, took until the end of June to fully melt. That's how high it was.

______________________________

So there are two fun stories of my experience with the Military Spouse Curse. Admittedly mild in comparison to some of the stories I've heard from friends and read online at spouse forums. I have often said we all should ban together and compile a book of our stories. It shows the strength we have, the ability to handle it on our own - when we have to. These stories should be a source of pride for us all. We face catastrophes, we overcome. We are happily married, yet must be independent and resourceful. We are, military spouses.

And I end with today's experience, the latest dealings I've had with the Military Spouse Curse. The experience that made me think of all the things that have happened when my husband has been gone through the years. All the things that have happened during the last seven months.

My youngest runs to me holding his throat. As stated above, my babies choking is a huge fear of mine. I jump up and ask what is wrong. He says, my magnet, I swallowed it. I'm sorry Momma!

The magnet was a grandparent gift. It's a set of small round magnets and straight stick like magnets. They can put them together to make all kinds of shapes. Both babies have enjoyed the gift, and we've had it over a year with no incidents. Their creativity while playing with it has been amazing. They've made dog shapes, houses, the pictures on the box - you name it they have thought it up and made their own versions. We've really had a lot of fun with this toy.

I saw him playing with them in the chair. Apparently, we decided to put one in our mouth for safe keeping while we tried to build our latest creation. I guess somehow, we swallowed.

I stayed calm. He was talking, so it had gone on down. He cries and says it's in his belly. I tell him everything is ok, but we'll call the nurse just in case. I talk to the nurse advice line and she says because it's about the diameter of a dime, he's drinking and acting normal, he should pass it within several days. If he's not passed it in three days, we'll need to go in and see a pediatrician.

Then, she says, her concern is lead. My heart drops. I have an old house. I have read about lead and work hard to protect my babies from it when doing any projects. She says she wants to transfer me to poison control to make sure that it's not toxic. The box did have a choking hazard on it, but nothing about it being toxic.

Poison control gets the name of the toy and puts me on hold. Thankfully, she comes back on the line and says that it is nontoxic. To just watch for him to pass it and follow the advice she's sure the nurse gave us.

So, now we wait. Thankfully, although potty trained, he still uses his potty to go poo poo. We tinkle in the regular potty, but haven't transitioned to the balancing act on the big potty. It should be rather easy to look for the round magnet. It won't be the most fun job in the world, but I guess it's better than having to go fishing :(.

Welcome to parenting. Me? I put a button in my nose for some reason when I was three. My son? He has a round magnet for a snack. Poor kid. It's just genetics apparently ;).

Too bad Daddy is missing all the fun. Darn Military Spouse Curse ;).

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