If you know anything about John and I, it's that we love to eat. Well, it's Thanksgiving, and our first one apart since we met one another back in 2011. I'm usually upbeat and downplay a lot of my feelings about him being away. I make a point to focus on the kids and his return - but I'd be lying if I pretended that Thanksgiving wasn't especially difficult. I miss my husband. We talk frequently, and we're past the halfway mark of this deployment. At the same time, I'm not at all looking forward to the time that's left before he's home.
I've broken down the rest of his deployment into blocks of time - Holidays, Birthdays, Home. There's a lot to miss in the short time we have left before his return. I mean, I guess I should be upbeat because during this time I am with the kids and family. I have a lot going on with work, and I know my time is passing faster than his long days on the ship. He was kind of down about the holidays and I had to encourage and reassure him he'd be home soonish, so I know I don't have it as hard as he does. But that doesn't mean the challenges I do have are diminished.
I needed to say that. Wow, I didn't realize I felt that until I wrote it. I need to remind myself more often:
John being away is hard.
His job is hard.
And my role while he's away is also hard. My challenges and struggles are valid. I don't need to feel guilty for feeling the sting of his absence.
I don't need to compare his challenges to mine. I cannot compare his to mine because I don't really understand his challenges, but I'm an expert on the ones we face while he's away.
One of the challenges, (and trust me, this is minor - but it irritates me the most. Well, it's definitely in the top 5) is when I casually am talking with someone, maybe in the checkout line, or wherever and the conversation comes around to family. And lately when that happens, I've found it easier to leave out that John is deployed.
I don't like that look of pity and that obligatory, perfunctory knee-jerk phrase that tumbles out "Thank you for your service. Thank your husband too." I know my face gives me away, but I am thinking "What service am I performing?" I mean, I'm just a wife doing what needs to be done to keep my family thriving and happy. I don't like the thank you. I feel like I'm not serving anyone else but my family, and why does that deserve any special gratitude from strangers? I don't thank other mothers for caring for their families. It's just what we do. So, I've started leaving John out of my small talk. Or I'll just say he's away on business. Which, I mean, I'm not lying. And, even if I was completely lying, do I really owe an acquaintance or stranger the entire truth when I am just trying to avoid hearing a phrase that makes me so uncomfortable? You decide and let me know.
This wouldn't be a blog post without pictures, so I'll stop depressing everyone and finish off with a funny story and some pics from Brie's birthday.
Not too many know that my dad was a portrait photographer before I was born. He still has his equipment, and he's the reason I chose Nikon over Canon. Daddy shoots Nikon. I grew up seeing him carrying this sturdy black camera around, attached to a velvet red strap. I didn't realize until he brought out that camera while I was visiting for Thanksgiving how ingrained it's presence in my life was. People ask why I chose Nikon, and I've always said what I thought the reason was - I'm left handed and it felt good when I picked it up. But, it's more than that. That's what I grew up seeing, no wonder I was drawn to it.
I've been hounding my dad for a year now for his lenses, his studio lights, his everything related to his camera. Hey, don't judge me. Gear is expensive and fun to play with. My dad told me I could have a lens (just not his 100mm, other photographers will understand why), so I picked one.
Here's how the conversation went (camera jargon ahead, but just a little):
Me: Ugh, daddy. I don't want this one...where's the 2.8?
Daddy: Who said I have a 2.8?
Me: Idkkkkkk (that's me whining), you don't? Ugh. The one I was is a 2.8 with vibration reduction and...
Daddy - (cuts me off) I'm not saying you can't have your 2.8...I'm saying you can pay $3000 for that one, or you can have this one for free.
Me: Effectively silenced. (but not for long...) Daddy! Is this a light meter?!!!
Daddy: Yes. Put it down.
Me: Can I have this? I need a light meter. [I don't need a light meter]
Daddy: Nope. Go learn some things and come back in a year, maybe then.
Me: I'll just take my lens and go start learning "some things."
So now I have the pleasure of learning the unappreciated, but very useful 70-210 lens. Gabriella turned 3, her birthday fell on Thanksgiving. So the day after, we took her to Chuck E. Cheese. I brought all my lenses, because, why not? But the images here were taken with the new lens. I think I'm going to enjoy it, and am so thankful (you knew I had to tie in gratitude...it's Thanksgiving, you'll forgive me for being a teensy bit corny, right?) for the lens because now I have one more thing to keep me busy until my person is back with me.