It's been one month since Chris has been gone.
I've been thinking about this post for awhile, but I'm finding that it's really hard to put this last month into words.
It is nonstop crazy, as you would assume with 2 kids still in diapers.
It is pretty much nonstop selflessness.
There are moments of calm and control, which are so, so great. I'm learning to appreciate those moments more and more!
Most days I can stay positive.
And some days the frustration rises and something as simple as trying to buckle the carseat but Liam wont let go of the straps makes me have to step back, breathe, and count to 10 to keep my cool.
Sometimes it's when the 4th piece of food falls from chubby little fingers and splatters on the floor.
Sometimes it's when Ava shrieks at the top of her lungs for the 15th time in a row.
Sometimes it's when we are all packed up and ready to load up in the car and I realize someone needs a diaper change. Or a snack. Or a toy. Or a shoe.
Or maybe it's a toilet leaking all over the floor, or a recall on my car, or the newly installed cable is not working, or the first round of bills to pay, or playing phone tag with the doctor's office for Ava's referral, or cat puke in the middle of the night or Ava skipping her nap for the second day in a row or stepping in spit-up or the mouting pile of dishes or laundry to wash, dry, and fold or the milk is gone or ants in the house or...
You get the idea!
It's hard to find enough time in the day to get everything done. Once the kids are in bed I have a couple of hours to myself, but I can't get everything done. I need time to do food prep, clean, relax, and other tasks that I can't get to or do successfully while the kids are awake. And sometimes I'm just tired so I choose to go to sleep early. Or I binge watch a show and have snacks in bed until I realize how late it is and that I should probably go to sleep.
And while I do feel very fortunate to be able to talk to Chris pretty much every day, because of the time difference, it's rare when we get to talk without screaming or crying kids in the background or someone crawling in my lap or grabbing the phone.
I think its the constant selflessness that wears me out the most. Time for myself and my wants and needs only comes when the kids' needs are met first and if there is enough time at the end of the day after all my responsibilities are taken care of. Most of the time I can get the kids to nap at the same time after lunch so I do get some downtime during the day too, so that's a plus!
Overall, we are all doing well. Chris is adjusting to the time change and his work, I'm actually juggling the workload better than I thought I would (most of the time), and Ava is doing pretty well dealing with daddy being gone. She will spontaneously say "daddy koo-way (Kuwait)" and she enjoys facetiming with him during her lunch or carrying him around the room and feeding him goldfish. Liam lights up whenever I hand him his daddy doll or when he gets to facetime with daddy. The cats miss him too, I think - they've become my shadows! Once the kids are in bed especially.
Sometimes facetime with daddy does agitate Ava a bit. I think there are a lot of things that people don't think about during a deployment and the impact it has on the family, and this is one of those examples. Yes, it is great that we get to facetime with daddy so often. But little Ava wants her daddy to be here with her. To play with her. To hold her. To give her kisses. And sometimes seeing him on the phone is confusing to her because she doesn't understand why daddy can't play with her. She often times gets a little more wild when we facetime and sometimes she doesn't want to talk with him. It's not always fun and happy conversations. She acts out a little. So sometimes our facetime sessions are a bit chaotic and are cut short. One of my friends told me they rarely facetimed with their toddler because it was too hard on him. These are the struggles of a military family, when seeing daddy is actually harder. We can't wait to see daddy when he comes home for leave sometime next year, but we are already worried about that transition on the kids. How is that fair to them, to say "daddy is coming home!" and then we have to turn around and say goodbye to him again?! It is such a hard, hard thing. It's too difficult on these little ones. I guess we will deal with that when the time comes. We of course want to be reunited if and when possible, but again, there are those "hidden" struggles that military families deal with.
I can't believe Liam is 7 months! These last few weeks seem to have flown by, even though some days I thought bedtime would never come!
This month, Liam has cut 2 teeth and has started food! He had a slower start with Baby Led Weaning than Ava did. It's taken him about 2 weeks to get to where he doesn't gag when food touches his tongue and just last week he started chewing on his food and swallowing some of it! I love the no-pressure approach that comes with BLW. There's no "oh he needs to eat half a jar of this" and I don't feel like I have to sit there and cram food in his mouth on a spoon that he will just spit out anyway. He's learning to eat food at his own pace. If nothing else, its at least fun sensory play for him! And since "food before 1 is just for fun", there's plenty of time to master biting, chewing, and swallowing. He loves to watch Ava while he eats. They love to watch each other, actually! Ava thinks its fun that brother eats some of the same foods she does, and she models how to eat for Liam. She will give him his sippy cup and pick up his dropped food sometimes.
Liam can now get up on all fours and drop his knees, and he's starting to bring his knees forward a bit! He can really get around a room by scooting backwards and turning on his belly. I'm having to keep a closer eye on him and make sure he's not getting into Ava's smaller toys!
Liam is on a pretty solid 3 naps per day, usually 1.5 to 2 hours apiece. Some days he doesn't get the third nap and he goes to bed a little early. And sometimes he sneaks in a short nap and throws the whole schedule off! I try really really hard to make them both eat lunch and then nap at the same time so I can get a midday break. And some days it just doesn't line up!
Liam still isn't sitting 100% on his own - he hasn't really progressed with sitting much this month. Over these last couple of days he can sit unassisted for 15 minutes or so, with the occasional bobble. I think he's more interested in being mobile and getting around the room! He is a lot more stable in the shopping cart, though! He loves to sit and look around! Ava loves her new spot in the cart and often gets in trouble for standing up (although she's usually doing it so she can give Liam a kiss so its hard to get after her for that!).
Ava has really been testing some limits these last few weeks. I'm sure since daddy is gone that she's trying to see what she can get away with. We operate off of "tough love" in this house, I guess you could call it. I'm trying not to let my feelings of being overwhelemed with life alter the expectations for Ava, not because in that moment it makes it easier for me. During a big life change, consistencey is what is best, so I try to keep that in mind. And I think Ava is starting to understand the consequences of her actions. She jumps when I catch her getting into something she shouldn't. Sometimes when she sees that I've caught her doing something (jumping on the bed, banging the glass on the fireplace, standing on her chairs/table) she will stop and sit down! I tell her "that's a good choice!". And sometimes she is naughty and she has to go to timeout! She throws her fit and cries and then says "I no cry" and then I tell her she can come out! She's a smart, fiesty girl! Her latest thing is shrieking at the top of her lungs when she's not happy with me or what I've asked her to do. I think we are going to lose our eardurms!
Ava loves to color with markers, clean the floor with the swiffer (I just leave it out now so she can "clean" everyday), give Liam LOTS of toys, brush her teeth (althought getting her to stop clamping down on the toothbrush is another story!), going to the playground, having 100 things in her crib at night, eating oatmeal with her fingers, being tickled on her neck or her armpits, and of course, talking to daddy!
I am getting the hang of bathtime with these two. It's not so stressful to me anymore, and I actually look forward to it because they both love baths so it's fun playtime for them! It's been really fun to see the tremendous growth in sibling love these two have for each other this month! They can play together now - Ava will give Liam toys and he can grab them from her. They sorta "roughhouse" sometimes! Ava loves to kiss him and be in his face and Liam grabs her face and hair and they both just giggle! I usually have to help free Ava's hair from Liams fist as he pulls pretty hard, but for now, Ava thinks its great!
I am loving being home. I love that my kids can finally spend time with extended family. Ava now asks for family members by name, people who were basically strangers to her 6 months ago. I love that we have people to call and hang out with. There are so many playgrounds nearby! And as much as it's going to suck that Chris won't be here for birthdays and holidays, we at least won't be lonely. Absence certainly makes you miss a person! A year is such a long, long time...I just hope it keeps going by as quickly as it has!