back together.

Andrew walked through the door last night at about 7 o’clock. Lily went into a total frenzy. She couldn’t believe it was him. She was in her crate, her tail womping the bars, and she was barking up a storm. Being the new and improved dog owners we are, we totally ignored her. But you know who couldn’t ignore her raucous? Sleeping baby Madeline. She started to cry, and Andrew’s face lit up when I said, “Guess you should go and pick her up!”

I went into her room first and rubbed her back telling her everything was okay. Then I got down to her level and told her, “Your Daddy’s home, Madeline. Do you want to see him?” She looked at me as if she couldn’t understand, as Andy walked into her room. “It’s your Daddy, Maddie! He’s home.” She went straight into his arms and put her head down on his shoulder. They fit together as they always have. He held her like that for a long time. The look on her face, as she rested in his arms, went from bewilderment to a little bit of sadness. I asked her if she wanted to look at her daddy. She came to me and stared into his eyes. I looked back and forth between them. Their similarities were so obvious in the darkened room. His eyes were her eyes, tired and understanding. They had both set their closed lips into a bashful smile. They were relieved. You could see it on their faces. The best buddies, back together.

She went right back to sleep, as though nothing had changed. And this morning she was giggling with him at the changing table. She drank the most milk from her cup she ever has as she lay content in his arms on the couch. I looked at their matching expressions from over the counter as I washed last night’s dishes. Peaceful. He read her six books in a row and told her the names of the animals on her blocks. She put her pretend lipstick on him and laughed as he kissed her. Anything she did, she’d check over her shoulder, making sure he was watching. Watching her walk around the room. Watching her dance to her favorite songs. Watching her scoot around on her train. They wore the same look on their faces again this morning. Pride. The best buddies, father and daughter, my two favorites, back together. And happier than ever.

daddy’s in the woods.

Above is a CBS News piece on the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. The brigade is training for missions involving chemical weapons in the hands of an enemy.

This is our unit. These are our guys. Panthers. And I’m definitely feeling hooah after watching them! I’m proud of them. Proud of their expertise, their discipline and their training. But I’m also feeling a little bit shell shocked.

Andrew has been away at training for more weeks than he’s been home this summer. “Daddy’s in the woods,” I tell Madeline (a phrase borrowed from another Army family). And I think, sometimes, that’s what I let myself believe, too. I picture Andrew laying in his mosquito net on the ground in the dark, eating a wheat snack bread from his MRE. But I never picture the actual training. I suppose I don’t have a detailed enough frame of reference. I just know the basics. Jump into the box. Seize the airfield. Set up a TOC. And then…they…are…in the woods. Etcetera.

But this video of our soldiers reminds me of how real it is. They’re not just in the woods. They’re not just training. It’s not just another field problem. Our husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, they’re readying themselves. And come October, as they assume a Global Response Force mission, they will be prepared to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours. They will jump into a hostile situation, should the order be given. My husband and his unit, under the command of incredibly competent and dedicated leaders, are making sure that when they go, if they go, they are ready for anything. This training will minimize mistakes. It will help them learn how to function as a team. It will help to ensure that when they go, if they go, everyone will come home.

This time apart is not for naught.

Airborne!
All the way!
H-Minus!

hope on a saturday morning.

There is little I like better than a crisp fall morning. Especially when it comes on August 17th.

We got out of our beds just after 7:30 this morning and went downstairs in our long sleeved pjs and sweatpants. I had to put a light on in the kitchen as I made Maddie’s bottle, because the overcast sky let little light inside. The rain leftover from last night on the grass was so cold that Hudson took just a few steps out before running back in without going potty. I left the back door open, so as I sat on the love seat, with Madeline in my lap drinking her warm milk, we could feel the brisk air and smell an amazing brisket already smoking on our neighbor’s grill. She tucked her toes underneath my crossed legs, and we sat quietly for a few minutes. The absolute perfect start to Saturday morning. Made even better soon after by a hot cup of coffee in my ceramic mug, burning my hands a little as I held it.

Then my phone rang, the Imogen Heap ringtone sending Maddie into an impromptu dance party. It was Andrew. They’re going into the box and aren’t taking their phones with them. He’s been gone for two weeks already, but saying goodbye this morning felt like I had picked off an old scab that had not nearly healed underneath. Two weeks is enough time apart to be sad and then get into a good routine. Now I feel like someone hit the reset button.

I can’t hold the phone up to Maddie and watch her kiss it as her daddy chats in her ear. I can’t text him the funny and not-so-funny stories of the day. I can’t send him pictures of his daughter asleep in her crib each night.
                      Sleeping baby in crib

We’ve done this before. Twice. And for much longer periods of time. NTC and Ranger School made us pros at getting through the day without each other, but who wants to be a pro at that? I hope the change isn’t realized by Madeline. I hope we breeze through this next week at home. I hope New York fills our days with so much love and family that it doesn’t sting as badly.

I’m sure, before I know it, two weeks will have gone by, and he will be that much closer to coming home. And when he does come home, I hope all of our mornings feel just like August 17th, but together.