off the roller coaster

i guess i have kind-of been avoiding writing this.  if you have ever read my blog before you know that i try to be completely honest.  just like any time i sit down to write, i don’t know what i am going to say exactly.  i have a general feel for what i want the picture to look like here on this blank canvas, but no idea how i am going to paint it… yet.  but, i know enough to know that i have been avoiding it because i estimate there will be tears involved– happy, sad, or otherwise.

we have known since the day that daddy j left that he would be home on or before c’s birthday.  the country that he was in has rules about how long that Soldiers can stay and 365 days is it.  we knew in march that he would be home on c’s birthday.  talk about being conflicted.  i hated to rush away my time with c as a 1 year old, but man did i want daddy j home.  and i’ll probably forever feel guilty for just wishing the last 3 weeks of c’s 1st year would pass quickly.  similarly, i kind-of wished the same when we were 3 weeks out from her first birthday.  the lead up to the deployment is deplorable.

bye daddy j.  glad it’s starting so the countdown to it being over finally can begin.

if i am being honest, (and i am) the last month-ish has absolutely been the hardest time this whole deployment.  it was harder than the first month.  harder than the month after midtour.  harder than any month out of this whole year.  c was on the cusp of the terrible twos and j must have spidey sense because they’ve both just been on the edge.  there have been LOTS of tears.  LOTS of tantrums.  LOTS of days where i didn’t think i was going to make it.

wednesday (the day before daddy j came home) was a terrible day. the truck had to go into the shop for $2000 of maintenance, c was bouncing off the walls, j was whiny.  it was the complete opposite of what i think of when i think about how i wanted my last day to go before daddy j got home.  in my mind i had massages, spray tans, relaxing coffee drinking, angelic kids, choirs singing, rainbows.  you know, the usual.  i stayed stressed the entire day.  i just wanted to go to bed, but it seemed like everything was standing in the way.  just like with any bad day, though, time passed and it was time to go to sleep.

i set my alarm for 530 on thursday morning, but really didn’t need to bother.  i was up at 12, and 2, and 3, and 330, and 4, and 430, and 5 from a combination of nerves and excitement.  i also found a way to track daddy j’s flight and i was borderline obsessed with doing that:

what do you mean it’s only moved 1/1000th of an inch in the last hour?

i got out of bed at 520 and started getting dressed.  i remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and thinking that i didn’t know what i was feeling.  it had been so long since i had seen daddy j that i knew excited was part of what i was feeling.  i knew nervous was a part.  i even kneww that anxious was a part.  but the rest of what i was feeling was a jumbled up mess of disbelief that it was actually happening.  i know that i was on edge though because i was short with the kids. mommy resolution number 1.  i will work on that starting now.  ok, tomorrow.  it’s bedtime afterall.

once the kids and i were dressed in our borderline matching outfits (but i like to call them heavily coordinated), we grabbed our balloons, our banner, and we headed out.

we picked him up at the airport 3 towns over.  the drive is only about 45 minutes, but we left an hour and a half early. when picking daddy j up for midtour, i was nearly late because of traffic and we weren’t taking any chances this time.   my parents rode in one car and we rode in another.  
j was crazy super whiny and kept saying things just to be ugly.  he was an example of acting out at it’s finest.   it’s easy to forget just how much emotion affects kids.  i’ve been guilty this year of just assuming because the kids have cartoons, a place to sleep, fun people to be around, and access to FaceTime that the weight of the deployment isn’t their shoulders at all.  looking back, i am not so sure that was right.  on the plus side, we did have a very fun year. when i look back on this year, i will have a lot of wonderful memories.  for that, i am thankful. 
we arrived at the airport a few minutes after 8 and parked.  we were in such a frenzy to get inside that i do not know what the heck we did with our parking stubs or any of our stuff or even where we parked.  we have 20 more minutes before daddy j arrived, but we were also so excited that we floated into the airport. but, it still didn’t feel real at that point.  
once inside, we saw that the flight had been delayed by 10ish minutes which may as well have been an eternity.  normally, i am a pretty strict parent but not yesterday.  (well, for most of it anyway).  i was using all of the energy that i had in my entire body to keep myself from getting overwhelmed with emotion.  for anyone who saw us at the airport yesterday, i apologize that i let my kids run circles around the airport chairs and climb up and down and up and down, but they had a lot of energy they needed to get out and i needed to keep my energy inside. 
we sat and we waited and we waited and we waited.  his flight was originally supposed to get in at 833, but the new time was at 844. at 832 my mom wandered over to the arriving flights screen and said “it’s here!  it’s here!” which i didn’t believe since it wasn’t time.  she said “it’s arrived!  it’s here.  i don’t know why but it is..” and we all jumped up and got our balloons and our sign and ran to the exit point.  
we ended up chatting with a few nice ladies and they took some pics of us holding the sign while we waited to see daddy j: 
but we didn’t have to wait long really.  we were probably only standing at the exit for 3 or 4 minutes before we could see people coming off the plane through the glass (it’s a super tiny airport).  i told the kids to come over so we could look, but they were too busy running around and beating each other with their balloons to care.  and c kept looking at the picture of her daddy and saying “my daddy!”  i said ” you don’t have to look at a picture of your daddy, he is about to be here and you can look at him”  but she was undeterred. so i said “well fine.  i am done worrying about y’all.  i am going to worry about me and you’ll figure it out when you see him.” 
no sooner did i turn around than i saw daddy j coming off the plane. 
i probably yanked j and c’s arms out of socket when i grabbed them and pulled them over to the now open exit gate.  daddy j was doing his little scurry run through the roughly 100 feet between us.  it took j a minute but he saw daddy and he ran to him leaping up into the air. 

it reminded me of times when i watch so you think you can dance or dancing with the stars and they say “such trust there to leap to your partner like that.” baby j jumped with his whole body into his daddy’s arms.  it’s such a wonderful reminder that even though daddy hasn’t been here physically that baby j knew that daddy j will always catch him.

c got the memo shortly thereafter and ran to daddy too.

we kinda clogged up the exit there, but i don’t think anyone minded.  i ran up to him and gave him a big hug too after he was done loving on the kids. there were a few people standing around at this point, but i only know that because of the VIDEO.  i really debated on giving my dad the camera or telling him to take video.  i am SO GLAD for the video.  it was definitely the way to go and i’ll treasure it always.  thank you steve jobs for making an excellent product.

we really didn’t waste much time with the hugging and stuff.  we went on downstairs and got j’s luggage (even though we originally went to the wrong claim because we were just too excited to actually read the sign) and headed off to cracker barrel for c’s bday.

we sang happy birthday to c in cracker barrel and went to NASA with the kids.  aside from it being the day that daddy came on we tried really hard to make it a normal ole’ bday day for sis.  see… goofy as always:

i can’t help myself.  it’s what i do.
it was easier than i thought it would be in a lot of ways and harder in a lot too.  roller coaster. roller coaster complete.  
i want to say a special thank you to anyone who said a prayer for us or gave us a kind thought or sent positive energy to us this year.  i appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

it’s over.  we made it. 

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