There are these older wiser women in my life. They have each taught me a mothering/life lesson that I live by and often pass onto other moms. I believe these lessons are so important to surviving our life as military spouses. The funny part (or maybe not) is that they didn’t exactly live the same military life I do but each spent lots of time mothering alone. These three women are my mother, grandmother and mother in-law and these are their lessons:
1. My mother’s lesson: Be ready for the “arsenic hour” and be flexible with it. Some may call this time the “witching hour” but what ever term you use it is the time between dinner and bedtime. Kids, especially babies and toddlers, are tired and hungry and they can’t decide which one bothers them more. This is the time where I would start my downward spiral as a mother, insisting that we stick to the dinner/bedtime routine despite how unhappy my kids were. She taught me to evaluate that time from day to day and know how each of my children behaved or could behave. On a good day, go with my set routine and on a bad day take the moments as they come. If it is quiet and the kids are relatively happy, dinner is cooking in the oven then give them a bath and then eat. If they are crying and acting hungry make them a meal you know they will eat and make it fast and feed them regardless of the time. Then give them a bath and let them have a snack if dinner was early. The arsenic hour was and still is tough but it became manageable after she taught me this theory.
2. My grandmother’s lesson: Live everyday as though “he” isn’t going to be home. In a nutshell she was telling me I had to learn how to be a single parent. I couldn’t rely on my husband for everything. I had to be strong and make tough decisions without him. Learn how to manage my life ALONE and be grateful for being able to do it with him when he was there but not to expect that. This was the moment I knew I need daycare and babysitters and really great friends to help me. To this day I do not count on my husband to be home with our children if I have an engagement that they cannot join me for. I always have a sitter or two in the wings in case he can’t be home. This lessons literally made my life as a military spouse not only possible but happy.
3. My mother in-law’s lesson: Do not be angry and resentful at him for the things he cannot control. This, I am so very guilty of! The Navy comes calling and interrupts my perfect plan and who do I yell at? My husband…. poor guy. He can’t control when the ceremony time changes or runs late and he can’t control that he has to help out a junior sailor who’s car broke down and needs someone to pick them up. That is part of the job…. wouldn’t life be great if he had a predictable one? Yes, but then I wouldn’t have this life, a life I truly love. So this lesson teaches us to be angry but then pour a glass of wine and let it go. Welcome our spouse home with loving open arms and ask what happened and listen and most important, be understanding. Chances are, he wanted to make those dinner reservations, too.
I might get in trouble for excluding dads in this post but dads are just different. They don’t need advice the way moms do to help them through the baby/toddler/child years. I often watch my husband in amazement of how he can handle our children. He doesn’t get flustered and yell more than necessary; he just pours a glass of wine and keeps on trucking! I guess maybe I have four people who have taught me mothering/life lessons.
Do you have an older wiser woman who taught you a mothering or life lesson?