The boys chilling out on a (rare!) quiet Saturday morning last spring
January 14th has officially arrived, otherwise known as the start of Will's spring semester. It's hard to believe, in a way; we kept talking about it yesterday, saying "can you believe school starts again tomorrow after an entire month off? What time do you have to show up for PT? What's your class schedule again? Oh yeah, I wrote it down a week ago and put it...somewhere. What do you and Tony plan on doing tomorrow?" etc etc etc. Will was up bright and early at 5:30 this morning, making coffee, shaving, putting on his PT gear, packing his books and a change of clothes. He has a pretty similar schedule to last semester; fairly busy Monday morning and afternoon but done by 2:30, easy Tuesday, crazy busy Wednesday and Thursday, and pretty easy Friday. Will decided to take a heavier course load for his spring semester, because by the time T-Quad arrives he will only have a month left of classes (in theory, anyway), and then he can take it easy during his last semester (Fall 2013), and he will be around more to give me a hand with the kiddos.
It's strange to think how much has happened these past 2-2 1/2 years. For a long time, it was just the two of us, both working and living in Germany, traveling, hanging out with friends, etc. We were leaving Germany for our move to Boston when we found out I was pregnant, moved to Boston, got settled in, and 8 months later RigaTony joined our family. Will decided to make the necessary (but still extremely brave) decision to apply for the Green to Gold program with the Army, was accepted, and after only a year and a half in Boston we packed up our lives once again and moved to Shreveport, LA so Will could finish his Bachelors degree. About 7 months later, we found out that we were expecting again. After the holiday craziness died down, Will and I were up late one night just talking. He asked me if a few years ago, I would have imagined our life would turn out this way. Yes and no. I always knew we would start a family, but everything was so crazy for such a long time with Will's multiple deployments, temporary duty assignments and work schedule we had no idea when that would be. I knew we would eventually move back to the States, but if you told me 3 years ago that Will would be released from the Army for 2 years to finish his degree in Shreveport, LA I would have laughed out loud. Military life has been adventurous, stressful, infuriating, exciting, extremely trying on what little patience I had in the first place, and rewarding. I didn't come from a military family, and I'll confess that was a concern of mine before I married Will. I was afraid I couldn't be a "good" military wife because I didn't understand the lifestyle. I was kind of resentful of the fact that we would have very little say in where we would live, as location has always been very important to me, and I was concerned about the job prospects I would have. I didn't know if I would be able to make friends easily, since I had no idea what to expect from the other wives. I was also terrified of deployments; mainly for Will's safety, but also how I would handle them.
For the most part, it's been an incredible experience. Will and I were thrilled to find out that the first duty station we would have as a married couple would be in Hanau, Germany. It was a harder transition than I thought it would be-I was ecstatic to be living overseas, but I was homesick and I didn't really get along with many of Will's co-workers and their wives. (I ended up chalking that up to a rough start, because within a year we became good friends with two other couples, to whom we are incredibly close with to this day). Will's first deployment a few months after our wedding was rough, I'm not going to lie. He was in Iraq for 8 months during a particularly volatile time, and I was working full-time on the base where we lived. I loved my co-workers, but they either had families of their own or lived a considerable distance away from work, and weren't exactly available to spend time with me every night when I was worrying about Will, and alone, and bored out of my mind. Fortunately, it got easier. I became good friends with the man who years later would become the godfather to our child. He forced me out of the apartment on weekends, and pretty soon I was hanging out in Frankfurt on Friday nights with him and our group of German friends (which was also very good for me, to meet people who weren't affiliated with the military). I became much more active in our church, and began playing my violin at mass every Sunday. I started spending more time with James and Maureen, who had their first baby that year. By the time Will returned from Iraq, I was more confident, had an easier time rolling with the punches, and I was no longer scared of being on my own when Will had to leave.
It wasn't always easy. We would make plans for vacation and Will would get his leave approved, only to have a deployment pop up and change everything. Our pay was screwed up more times than I care to remember. The amount of paperwork, following the chain of command and begging and pleading to get the simplest little thing done was enough to drive me crazy. And tragically, when I was six months pregnant with Tony, we traveled from Massachusetts to Missouri to attend the funeral of Will's friend and former co-worker who was killed in Afghanistan, the month before he was scheduled to come home. I found myself thinking the other day about the past 10 years, and everything we've been through, and I've had to admit that the military has been a huge part of it, both good and bad. Surprisingly, after having a "break" from everyday military life while Will has been in school, I've found that I've missed it. Maybe because I've always been the type of person who welcomed change, and never wanted to find myself in the same place, with the same group of people year after year. I've found that it's good for me to be forced out of my comfort zone, and the military is definitely the right place for that! :) I'm grateful to the military for the travel opportunities we've had, for the amazing friendships we've made, and for strengthening our marriage. Because I truly believe that this lifestyle can make or break a relationship, and Will and I have come out stronger than ever before.
Here's to our next adventure one year from now!