Scenes From a Not So White Christmas

We’re back from Wilmington, NC and getting ready to travel again to my parents in northern Georgia. We had a great Christmas with family and enjoyed seeing everyone Clay he leaves. We frosted sugar cookies. There were a couple of cookies where my niece Madison decided she wanted to start over. She did so by licking off the frosting and then re-frosting. We made sure not to eat those cookies. : )

My nephew Alexander (baby Alex as Madison would say) was quite enthralled with Weston (baby Weston) and loved to smile at him. Weston would often respond by falling asleep.

We have always enjoyed attending Clay’s parents church in Southport, NC. The pastor is a very warm and smart man with ties to Philadelphia. He is more than okay in my book. During the candlelight service at their church on Christmas Eve, the pastor made mention of Clay’s very soon departure to Afghanistan. He also stated that Clay just had a baby boy. It was then I raised my hand and stated that I was actually the one to ‘have’ Weston. Much to my surprise (and delight), the church erupted in laughter. It was a lovely service and Weston was all smiles in his Santa hat.

Christmas morning arrived and many presents were opened. Clay and I have a lot of precious memories of Weston’s first Christmas. Clay even had Lucy, Desi, and Weston give me a card (addressed to Mom) with a sweet inscription. I think he is a keeper. It was a lot of fun watching our niece and nephews open their presents. Luke was especially a delight.

I gave Clay and Harry wolf shirts (sweet!). They wore them playing my new favorite game, Bananagrams (thank you Meredith and Harry).

Clay snapped a picture of Weston and me napping on the couch. I just eat up little moments like this.

We were even able to get a picture of everyone one in the immediate family. I suppose it is a good sign the camera didn’t break.

The Band-Aid Period

He survived a difficult 16-month deployment. We survived a 16-month deployment. The homecoming was my fairytale. During the month after his return we lived like rock stars. Limited work schedules, long nights at bars with friends, spending money left and right, and lots of lovin’.  June 5, 2007 and the month that followed will always be my ‘remember when…’ carefree days. Our relationship was better than ever and we viewed the deployment as one of the best experiences our lives could offer. We considered ourselves blessed. And lucky.

This is the point in time I like to refer to as the band-aid period before the deployment. We’re trying to spend quality time together but the demands of the job are causing Clay to work long hours and spend nights away from home. Part of us is wanting to hurry up and get the goodbyes over with and start the deployment already – the part that wants to rip off the band-aid with a quick swipe. The other part is wanting to stop time and just be for a little while – the part that wants to slowly pull back the band-aid.

Will we be as lucky this time around? I am hesitant to say this deployment will be easier but the mission is certainly less risky. I’m torn. I want Clay to have a mission with a purpose and make a difference in the more remote (i.e. dangerous) areas. I also want him safe on a major base in Afghanistan – rarely leaving ‘green zone’. We’ll see what happens. Ultimately, I want him to make the most of the situation he will find himself in after the New Year. I also want the same for me.

What will the homecoming be like? Will the transition be difficult, unlike last time? Will he fall back into the steps of fatherhood with ease? Will I be willing to co-parent again? Will he come home damaged? Will he come home? I try not to think about those answers and just concentrate on the aspects I can control during the upcoming year. Like my deployment goals. And giving Weston love. Lots of love.

Life is too short to wonder about the ‘what ifs’. Weston deserves a mother who is focused on him and able to provide a positive environment. Sure, I will cry and find myself in ‘woe is me’ moments. Who doesn’t?  But they will be few and far between. They have to be – for Weston’s sake. I recognize the deployment this time around will be different. Not worse. Not better. But different. I think I am okay with that.