Don't get me wrong, plan for the worst and hope for the best is always good.
But I've noticed that, when I'm able to stop counting them, stop bracing for them as much, they don't seem to hit me so hard. Stuff still goes sideways, but it's easier to handle.
Do you track your gremlins?
I used to keep track of the gremlins.
For every Detachment or Work up. For every deployment. I would keep copious notes of the things that broke, the sicknesses that happened, the emergencies that were weathered.
I remember the first couple of deployments it was mostly big things. Serious illness, and funerals, and emergencies kept happening to people we loved early on in his career and I guess those things pretty well dwarfed the day to day grievances.
And then there was the deployment where we went to the ER or Urgent Care or doctor’s office something like 20 or more times for ear infections, minor emergencies, and sicknesses.
Sometime after that one I stopped counting really. I was toying with the idea that if I didn’t spend so much time thinking about the gremlins—bracing for them, counting them, acknowledging them—maybe, just maybe, they would have less power.
In a lot of ways I was right. I didn’t spend so much time bemoaning them. They didn’t steal as much of my energy.
Even without keeping a numerated list, though, I find looking back at each time he is gone—whether for a long deployment or a detachment that lasts just a few weeks—there is a count.
There is a list of things that took their toll. A list of things that tried to break me, or simply wear me down with minor irritation.
I was thinking about this tonight after I had tearfully told my very best friend in the whole world how much I was failing. We have company coming from out of state tomorrow and the house NEEDED to be cleaned tip top today. But for some reason I have been stuck in a slump. I said all this to my friend and she said, “Val… You’ve been surviving. You’ve done enough.” When I pushed back a bit she said, “Just since last Friday your baby had ear tubes and adenoid surgery, you went out of town on a camping trip in a cabin that was a bit more rustic than you anticipated, and came home only to weather three girls having the stomach flu. I would call that surviving and surviving well! Good job, friend!”
I kept thinking about it as I tackled the smell that had settled into the couch cushions after I had used the carpet cleaner to deal with some of the fall out of the stomach flu a day or two back, and came upstairs to find the laundry machine leaking (that one will have to keep until my husband gets home, next week).
Taking a long view I realized something. I AM better off not bracing for the gremlins or even giving them attention by keeping a list. I don’t spend as much unnecessary energy on them as I used to.
But sometimes I also lose sight of just how much I AM pushing through, of just how much I AM figuring out, and some days just plain old surviving.
If I step back and take a long view once in a while, I find that even when I feel like I’m failing because we’re just barely scraping by…
In reality, It’s more than enough.