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5 Life Lessons That Parenting Has Taught Me

24 August 2016

Congratulations. You are a parent. You and your significant other have given yourselves the daunting task of raising miniature versions of yourself, in hopes that they won't be as screwed up as you are. If you are like me, you will be wondering at least 1,397,596,328,939,247 times a day, how badly you suck at your parenting job, and pray that they don't turn in to that crazy crackhead down the street or even worse, a politician. It's a "learn as you go" adventure. Kinda fun, sometimes, kinda scary, and just downright "rip your f***ing hair out" frustrating. But there are always lessons to be learned in life, especially when it comes to raising humans.

Lesson 1: Silence is NOT golden.
 I repeat. SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN!!!! Forget what you learned on movie theaters etiquette, NOW, before it's too late and you end up with a shaven dog, or new "decorations" on the wall (sometimes consisting of fecal matter). If it is quiet, your little darling is up to something that may take years to repair (sometimes your own mental stability is damaged. (Who am I kidding. This happens everyday. Disregard.)) So unless you want to be fishing toys out of an un-flushed toilet, or replacing drywall, I suggest you take the silence very seriously. Silence is deadly.

Lesson 2: Life isn't fair.
 Especially for kids. Because Billy got this toy, and Suzy got a different toy, and then suddenly, Billy wants what Suzy has, but wants Suzy to pick something else, because there is no way in HELL that his sister is going to have the same toy as him. And if no one complies with his wishes, he will let everyone in the surround area know what an abusive, terrible parent you are, and you get dirty looks from strangers because how dare you not give into your child's every desire, even when society tells you they are spoiled little brats who don't need participation trophies, so either way, you can't fucking win. With all the strength and sanity you can possible muster, take the kids, leave the toys where they are, and get the hell out of there. RUN. LIKE HELL! Distract the kids with something else while you go chug a glass, or bottle, bottle sound better, of wine until you forget why you are mad at those precious angels in the first place. Until they start arguing over who will be the king in their make believe game and the kids scream, "it's not fair!" to each other. Repeat tomorrow. Results may vary.

Lesson 3: Don't compare yourself to other parents.
You want to feel like a shitty parent? That is exactly how you begin to feel like a shitty parent. You see all these parents with their perfect angels, everyone in a perfect line with their perfect clothes and perfect faces, while your kids are flinging snot at each tying to play hide-and-seek in the clothing rack. Let me tell you something. Just because you see that perfect parent with their perfectly behaved kid, doesn't mean it's a reality for them. They could be looking at you wondering how the hell you have the strength and patience to go through all of that. Or they could be thinking get your kids in order because, holy shit, they are heathens. Doesn't matter what that perfect perceived parent thinks. Because when they get home, they are just as frazzled as you. They struggle too. We all have different parenting styles. Embrace each other. Don't be assholes to each other.

Did I just really say that? Okay, I did. I just said that. Look, mom groups are a cesspool of criticism. You are doing everything wrong. You are treating a certain illness wrong, and my favorite, the Doctor of the mom group who tells you to go against actual science, because she's got years of google research under her belt. Look. All moms are doing the best they can for their children, and doing what they think is right. Even the annoying doctor mom. We all love our little heathens and take our job seriously (especially on social media) so it's no wonder other moms are so vicious about advice. Want some advice? Do what works for you and your kid (and take medical advice from an actual doctor. Sorry, just had to throw that in there. I'm such a hypocrite, I know.) But serious, none of these other moms are raising your kids for you, and you aren't raising theirs. Just stay away from mommy groups if you don't want to feel like you are destroying your children, okay?

Lesson 5: It's okay to be angry with you kids.
Lets face it. Kids are assholes. But they are cute assholes, and they are ours! It's okay to let your kids know you are angry with them! It's a legit feeling that they need to learn to process as well! But it is hard to stay angry with them. Don't drag your anger out for long. Let them know why you are mad, and move on. As a kid, there is nothing worse than knowing your parents are angry at you, and you not know why or how to fix it. Give kids that opportunity. And also, when you are being a dick as a parent, your kids are allowed to be angry, too. It's a valid feeling and emotion. So, in summery, be angry! Don't hide that shit! Just get over it quickly before your kid does the next asshole thing to piss you off all over again.

What have you learned on this parenting journey so far? Please feel free to share your experiences!

Feeling Safe During a Deployment

05 August 2016

Deployments suck. Plain and simple. There is so much to prepare for, before hand, so much to take on alone during, and your spouse is probably stuck in a tent or trailer with it's A/C unit that has been in-op since the last deployment cycle, near the latrines. Only eating sub-par chow, stuck in an unfamiliar location, working and worrying about their families. Despite the planing, the POAs, and having all of your financial ducks in a row, not a lot of families talk about security until after their spouse is gone. As dependents (and I use this word lightly, because we are anything but) we know the rules when it comes to making sure deployment locations, dates, and activities are not to be talked about for the safety of our spouses, fighting the good fight. But do we ever think of what to do before deployments to keep ourselves safe? Well, fear not, folks! Because we will talk about it here! A while back, I asked fellow spouses, "What helps you feel safe during a deployment? What measures do you take to insure your family's safety?" I got quite a few answers! Very good answers! So we will discuss all of the following answers here, today! The most popular answer, is owning a firearm. I've owned a few, and they give me a small piece of mind, that if the need would arise, I would be able to defend my family. Here are some tips if you plan on using a gun as a way of protection.
This is a Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22. I owned one. Easy to use, comfortable to shoot, and It looks scary! Photo credit to Smith and Wesson
  • GUN SAFETY GUN SAFETY GUN SAFETY!!!! I can not emphasize this enough!! Make sure your guns are locked away, or have a trigger lock, and keep out of reach of children. Make sure you can properly load, unload, clean and operate. Educate yourself before going out and buying one! Take a safety course. A gun will do you no good if you don't know how to operate it! Which brings me to my next point. . 
  • Get yourself comfortable with your gun. Take it to a range, shoot off some rounds with an instructor. Make sure you feel fully comfortable and capable of using your gun. 
  • Know your laws! Especially if you plan on Conceal Carry. Laws vary from state to state. Some states allow open carry. Be sure to do your research. 
  • Educate your children on guns. You can explain what they do and that they can seriously harm themselves or others if mishandled, or even take them with you to a range and learn to fire. This will give a kid a good idea of how powerful and dangerous a gun could be. If you do not feel comfortable with your child handling a gun, don't take them to a gun range. But they need to have the conversation with you in the event that they see a gun. They need to walk away, and get an adult.
Another answer was dogs. Dogs can be a great early warning system! (My corgi normally alerts me to anyone who is walking in our stairwell, or the front of the building, or a man jogging from a mile away. . . .What can I say? She is crazy.) While some dogs are great for protecting the home, they shouldn't be solely relied on. While a dog's bark can deter potential home invaders, some will not be frightened by a barking dog. Especially one like mine who only barks because she wants attention and swears no one loves her. . . Anyways, dogs do tend to give people a piece of mind when alone. And some dogs will protect their families at any cost. But if a home invader plans on doing harm, your dog, as well as you, could be at risk if you don't have a plan. So. . . .
My coffee cup is empty. :(
HAVE A PLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whether you plan on staying close to home, or traveling, always have a plan. Have your emergency contacts, emergency location, etc, easily accessible to you and family member or friends that are near by. In case of fire or weather emergencies, have a plan. Find a safe place in your home, or multiple exits and meeting locations. Always let your family and friends know where you are going, for how long, and when you plan on getting back. That way, if something does happen, they will be able to send help to you if the need arises. Make sure you come up with a plan, with your spouse, before a deployment! Staying with family during a deployment.  This is something that I have seen a lot of spouses do.  It is great, because you are familiar with your surroundings, plus when you are around people you are familiar with you and love you, that alone provides a sense of security. If it makes you feel safe, do it!!! Don't worry about what all of the other "competition spouses," who brag about doing everything themselves, say. It's not their decision to make, and they sould probably mind their own.  You do, you!!
A lot of different companies out there. Do some comparison shopping!
One answer that I am surprised that no one provided, is a Home Alarm System. There are so many out there on the market, with so many choices on instillation. There are Alarm companies such as Vivint or ADT, that come and install systems. They have great equipment, and their alarms are loud enough to wake the neighbors, and deter a suspect or at least, awaken the snoring, sleeping, beast (myself) to be able to take appropriate safety measures. The down side to that, is you cannot take the system with you when you move, although, most companies will give you discounts if you do move, equipment will have to be replaced and you may end up forking out more money. So if you rent a home, this wouldn't be ideal, unless the home you rent already has a system. You would have to pay an activation fee, and then pay your regular monthly payments to have the company monitor your home, and normally, that comes with a two to four year contract. And then if you don't like the company, you are stuck. As someone who had this kind of security system as a home owner, it was nice, however, we had so many problems with the company, and we were stuck in our contract. Even when we PCS'd, it was such a hassle to get our service halted.     And then, there are companies like SimpliSafe, which are essentially DIY instillation with no wires, no landline required, works off of cellular signals, offers a money back guarantee, no contracts, and like other security systems, saves you money on home and renters insurance. Not to mention, since it's a wireless security system, you can take your system anywhere with you when you move! The only downside, is having to pay money upfront for equipment, but honestly, it will save you money in the long run. And once you buy the equipment, it's yours! When you buy the equipment, you have 60 days to decide if you love it, and if not, you get 100% money back, and they pay for your shipping. With so many package options, it's easy to find what suits you! If I weren't in Germany, this would be the route I would take. Hell, I'm half tempted to strip the security system in the house we own and replace it with this! But alas, I am here. Make sure you shop around, get customer reviews, look at BBB ratings, and as always, make a plan. Stay safe out there, my fellow spousal superheros! Until next time. . . .
(P.S. A special thanks goes out to SimpliSafe for encouraging this type of conversation and helping military families! What are some of your own stories or tips? Feel free to join in!)          

Break the Silence. Fight the Stigma

13 October 2015

For those who feel alone. . . .
For those who feel like they suffer, alone. . .
For those who suffer in silence. . . .
This is for you.

You are never alone.

I didn't want to get out of bed. My motivation has left me.
I feel everything, and nothing, all at once.
I struggle to remember little task.
I struggle to do the dishes
I struggle to be a good parent.
Remember when you called me lazy?
I'm honestly not trying to be.
I'm in pain. In pain from not feeling anything.
But who cares. Not me, not anyone.

I cry. Yet, I know not what for.
Maybe it's a yearning to love.
To be happy like the rest.
Knowing that I must fight everyday
just to be in a decent mood.
I lose some, I win some.
The battles in my head are unrelenting.
They are constant.

I'm scared. I'm afraid of failure.
I'm afraid of rejection.
I panic over small things
"Don't stress. Don't get anxious".
But it's what I'm good at. It's what I know.
I'm scared I'll be walking my whole life, trying to find the light.
It feels like a constant dead end.
A cruel joke.

Remember when I asked for help?
"You don't need help, you just need to change the way you see things."
"Don't medicate. It's addictive."
"People will think you are crazy."
"Why do you want to ruin things? Don't you want to be happy?"
"You just need to exercise."
"Change your diet."
"Stop being so fucking lazy."
"Get a job."
"Get off your ass."
"You need Jesus"
"It's all in your head."
It's all in my head.
There has never been a truer statement.
It never leaves.
Do you think I want to go through this.
Do you think I don't want to feel nothing and everything all at once?
Do you think I don't want to be productive?
I have prayed for 26. Fucking. Years.
Why me, God? Why?
Please heal me!
I've heard it all. From everyone.
But I can't be selfish.
Why would they understand?
Why would anyone understand?
I wouldn't want them to.
I wouldn't wish this on anyone.
But I also yearn for you to understand.

Maybe, I should make my exit.
I think about this.
I get a sick smile thinking of those that actually care.
Then I get physically sick thinking of those who actually care.
Then I see my kids.
I vomit.
They would go through their lives.
The love I have for them, and the love they have for me.
You see, sometimes, it's hard to see it.
Sometimes my head ignores those.
Then I get that text,
That phone call,
Reminding me why I'm here.

I have seen the light.
I have seen happiness.
I have seen hell.
I have seen despair.
I have come out on top, only to fall again.
Over and over.
But it's okay.

I'm a fighter.
I'm a survivor.
I push on.
I know i'm loved
And I know I don't suffer alone.

I'm a Doctor
A Teacher
An Actor
A Mother
A Father
A Grandparent
A Christian
An Atheist

You see, this darkness does not discriminate.
It doesn't care if you are rich, or poor.
If you are loved by all or loved by a few.
It doesn't just go away with wishful thinking.
It takes work.
It may seem trivial at best,
But at best, it's our lives.
Break the silence.
Fight the Stigma.