September 11, 2013

I know it’s late, but that’s how I roll…

September 11, 2001:

I sat in my therapists office as he railed on about worry and fear, telling me: “don’t worry about yesterday, its in the past and you can’t change it. Don’t worry about tomorrow, it isn’t here. Focus on today only.”

I’ve often joked about how my life could have been so different if I had actually taken his advice and focused on “today only”. My young, impressionable mind could have become royally obsessed with the Towers, the airplanes, the people.

Instead, I still fear the past, I still worry about the future and I can’t relax today. Instead, it took me years to process what I’d see and heard that day. The conflicting actions of the people in my life who were supposed to help me through it. Viewing that much hate and that much love and still so much indifference all in a span of a few hours left me with a lot of confusion.

Even further down the years, I’m married to a soldier. He’s fought in the wars that started that day, as has his older brother and so many other men and women. Not all of them come home. When you look at the death counts (a phrase that shouldn’t even exist), do you just count those in the Towers, the ones in the airplanes and the ones in the Pentagon? Or do you remember that so many more have died as a result of that day? Each soldier, contractor, or civilian who has died in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan has died because of what happened September 11, 2001.

Let’s remember this, when we look at other war-torn nations and think we can help. Decades ago, we thought we could help. Today, we mark the anniversary of the day that help bit us in the ass.

Let’s remember those who lost their lives because our government focused too much on today and not enough about our future. Let’s remember those people who lost their lives because a small group of anti-Americans decided a plane would make a great weapon of mass destruction. Let’s remember the soldiers who have lost their lives taking the fight to another country, so our children can grow up without seeing bodies in the streets or living in fear of being murdered in their sleep as a message to the town.

Let’s remember.

Rainbows and Unicorns

This is a difficult topic for me, explaining for my absence while I sort through it all. My husband returned from Afghanistan nearly two months ago and it hasn’t been like you see on TV. It’s not been like the other wives talk about. That running across the room, jumping into each others arms, crying real tears of joy and not letting go. That pure, ecstatic joy that you just can’t control. I want one thing clear before I go any further:

I love my husband. I do now, and always have, love him with all that I am. The thought of not having him in my life everyday kills me.

I just don’t always feel it. When my daughter was born, she was a complete stranger. I didn’t know her, so I couldn’t love her in that mystical way mother’s often describe. There was no instant bond. I had to learn to love her and who she was (and is) growing to become. The way she sucks her finger when she’s nervous. The way she takes showers so she doesn’t have to sit in the bath water. The height of her laughter and her ability to make checks with stripes work magnificently. I had to learn to love her. Taking this pressure off myself when my son was born, knowing I wouldn’t feel that “magical bond” with him, actually made bonding with him a lot easier. I put too much pressure on myself and I always fail.

This is what I did at homecoming. Every homecoming is different. You’ve got the couples that can’t wait to run down the stairs and jump into each others arms and kiss like nobody else exists and the world has stopped spinning just for them. You’ve got the couples who are quietly holding each other in the middle of the chaos, just standing there, silently thankful for answered prayers. You’ve got the couples who are loudly screaming and yelling and jumping around like tailgaters at the Super Bowl after a touchdown, and they don’t care who is around. You’ve got the wives who brought large signs. Babies who’ve never met their father. Children and parents running to their family member, their soldier, their hero. It’s very overwhelming for people like me…

It puts a lot of pressure to feel what they feel, to express those feelings the way that they do, try to find balance and not fall.

I chose to stand at the top of the bleachers waving my arms like a mad woman with the kids on the steps in front of me doing the same. It still took him a minute to find us, but it was worth it. The hard part is that I felt very little for my husband in that moment. There was no “heart knowledge” of the love we have shared for the past seven and a half years. I know in my head that I love him very much, but in that moment, he was a stranger. I was more excited to see him with the kids. Holding them, kissing them, just talking to them. I didn’t care to talk to him myself. Holding him, kissing his face, none of that mattered to me. My children had their father and that is all that mattered. I put pressure on myself and I failed. I expected something different than I had experienced before and I shouldn’t have.

To put this into perspective, since I got married in November 2005, I have seen my mother for a total of 14 days. Three days when my daughter was born in 2006. One week when my sister graduated high school in May 2006. Four days when Little Brother was nearly two, in 2011. I feel very little love towards my mother. In fact, if not for her being my mother, I’m not sure I’d ever have contact with her. When I don’t have constant contact with someone in a meaningful way, I lose my ability to genuinely care for them. This is what happened during the deployment. Nine months of my breath catching when the doorbell rang. Nine months of my blood going cold when an unfamiliar car appeared in my driveway. Nine months of stealing myself for the worst, remaining brave for the kids and putting on a happy face… Nine months of building a wall around my heart to protect myself from the worst outcome possible…

That’s not an easy thing to tear down.

We’ve been working on it since he got home, but in those first few days it was like living with a stranger. We had both changed so much and neither of us knew what to really expect. Nothing seemed to be going right. In the past few weeks, there have been long nights, intimate discussions, and a lot of tears. Old hurts are finally starting to heal and we are coming together as a couple again. It should be romantic. The idea of “falling in love” all over again. In truth, it sucks and it hurts. This is my husband. He is the father of my children. I should have the heart knowledge of love for him. I should feel it after having him gone for so long, but I think I’m expecting too much of myself at this point. The “head knowledge” is there. I know there is no one else I would rather be with. There will never be anyone else. I’ve just got to take the time for my heart to catch up.

Hopefully, with old hurts beginning to heal, this will allow us to come together more fully and allow us to become more vulnerable with each other and that will help bridge that gap between the head and the heart. Some days are easier than others. He’ll do something or say something and all I feel is love. Other days, I truly struggle with the man beside me. The man that has promised to always stand beside me. The man that I promised to always stand beside.

We aren’t standing still anymore. We’ve moved. The ground beneath us has shifted and we are struggling to find where that leaves us once the ground goes still again.

For nine months, the ground shifted, twisted, and turned under our feet. For nine months, we were on different planets, shifting and twisting and turning in different ways. We’ve had two months to work on us. We’ve had some really horrible moments… We’ve had some really great times…

It’s called Marriage.

Thankful Thursday: May 24, 2013 Edition

Look what I found on post. They were just giving them away with a free bus ride.

20130604-115710

I know I haven’t been the best blogger these past few months. For those still reading my posts, I say “Thank You!” If you’ll bear with me, things are in a huge state of flux in the Noba household right now. I may disappear for days, weeks and months at a time as our family faces reintegration. I would ask those of you who pray to do so for our family. In the ten days since my husband has been home some difficulties have already come to light and let’s just say:

“Not all homecomings are joyful and triumphant. Not all homecomings are easy. Not all homecomings are kisses and rainbows and unicorns and butterflies. But we are committed to getting through this stage of life as we have all others. There will be more on this in the future. Of this, I have no doubt.”

Slacker Blogging

I seem to have become depressed over the past week. I’ve been taking the death of the cat very hard…

As a result, my blog is suffering. Sorry guys.

I promise to get back with it this week. More Autism Awareness blogs and the 30 Day Drawing Challenge posts are coming this week. I will get caught up and finish on time. I promise.

I’ve sent my husband an email to help me stay on task and focus. I need things to keep me moving…

On a side note, I will be updating on my 29 Things list soon… I’m failing myself already, and it’s only April…

Why we are chosing to homeschool next year: UPDATE

So many of you voiced your frustration of the issue of my daughter’s test and her teacher’s… inability to teach effectively… And I am being nice about this. Thank you for the support. It is not easy going through all of this alone, and I really do think of my dear readers as a little blogger version of an extended family.

(To be honest, I talk to most of you much more often than family anyway.)

I have had a meeting with the principal and the teacher. We discussed the tests in question (and her report cards missing grades for the past two quarters, which turned out to be an error with the printers, not any fault of the teachers). We also talked about my daughter’s behavior in class and I made sure to point out which ones are manifestations of her disability and how it’s effecting her test scores. We went over the reasons that she cannot get an IEP, a 504, and why her gifted evaluation was done a little too half-assed for my liking. (Though this is done at the district level, NOT at the school level and they shared my frustration in this area.)

Ultimately, she is still being homeschooled next year. I have already submitted my request for the registration packet to the online virtual academy she will be attending next year. Public school has reached a point where they are simply ill-equipped to handle a child like my daughter. In emails to other parents, who also have autistic children in this district, I have found that they too are struggling with little help from the school. With autism being the faster growing diagnosed learning disability in the country, we have GOT to focus on how to reach these kids. Everyone agrees that early intervention is the key, but what are we supposed to do when BY LAW, our insurance company doesn’t have to cover services she can receive in school for free, but the school refuses to allow her access to those services. I can site specific examples, and did, of how my daughter would benefit from Occupational and Speech therapy, and yet, she is denied both.

Homeschool will allow me to teach her in terms of real world applications. This is an area that has always failed me. I can know the textbook inside and out and still not understand how it applies to the world beyond the classroom. I think this will go a long way in helping Sissy understand the world around her and maybe, someday, she’ll be able to better navigate the world than I do.

So now, we bid our time. The teacher has agreed to take more time and patience in grading Sissy’s tests. She is going to be more diligent in grading, particularly if Sissy has shown in class to know the answer but marked it wrong on the test. She has agreed to bring Sissy aside and ask her to explain answers that may be the result of her autistic way of thinking. I have been asked to send emails and return the tests if something comes home a little off from what I think it should be, so that her teacher can work with Sissy at school.

I can only hope that these small changes carry us constructively through the end of the school year. These next two months may help determine what we do when Little Brother gets to Kindergarten in Fall 2014. Unfortunately, we wont have much information about next school year, for either child, until May.

 

Also, we successfully navigated the “Preschool Round Up”, now we wait. Our packet was complete. Our “I” were dotted; our “T” all crossed. Now it’s a waiting game to see what happens and how much our current deployment pay will be used against us when determining Little Brother’s preschool eligibility. We wont know anything until, quite possibly, my husband is home from Afghanistan, something I find ironic to say the least. So now we wait. We wait for the school year to end. We wait to see if Little Brother will be allowed to attend a public preschool. We wait for daddy to come back to us.

We wait.

Soul Mates

The amazing thing about knowing you’ve married your soul mate is when thousands of miles apart, separated by continents and oceans, and having gone months without seeing each other, you still manage to get each other the exact same thing for Valentine’s Day.

That is the status update I posted to Facebook just moments ago. You see, that package, the one my husband sent from Afghanistan for Valentine’s Day, it finally arrived today. I waited all afternoon, just like he asked, so that he could see my face on Skype when I opened it. It’s not a large envelope. Maybe seven inches high, nine inches wide, but it had my name on it and a post mark from an APO and that’s all that matters. Opening the envelope, I pulled out a letter. Just a small slip of paper, carefully torn out of the little green notebooks he meticulously writes everything down in. I know this by the size and line layout on the page.

Along with this tiny, hand-written note is a block of Post-It sticky notes. My husband has been putting these on his computer monitor when he needs to remember something important, like when to call home or something I’ve told him that I want him to take a look into. This block of Post-It notes is about 100 or more thick. At the top of each sticky page is a date, beginning with Feb 14.

From my husband to me.

From my husband to me.

Hand-written on each of these 100 or more notes is a Bible verse, a song lyric, or other writing to show love, encouragement, appreciation or support. Some of them are silly, like the one that reads “Be Sexy (That is all)”, some are more thoughtful and some are serious. But the greatest gift I think we could have given each other was this support, and what are the odds that we both thought of the same thing this year?

My husband and I have always joked and said “Get out of my head!” more times than I can count. If you remember my Valentine’s Thankful Thursday post, I made my husband a book with a deck of cards and two pieces of rope. A list of 52 (well 53) reasons that I love him. Things like “You look hot in your uniform!” and “You kill the SPIDERS”. Again, some silly, some serious, some thoughtful.

From me to my husband.

From me to my husband.

I love my husband so much.

The amazing thing about knowing you’ve married your soul mate is when thousands of miles apart, separated by continents and oceans, and having gone months without seeing each other, you still manage to get each other the exact same thing for Valentine’s Day.

Thankful Thursday: Valentine’s Day Edition

There is so much about love that is misunderstood. So many aspects of love. A multitude of ways to show love and even more ways to feel it. For someone like me, who has trouble regulating a normal emotional system for long periods of time and can’t always understand the emotions behind people’s actions, love is a strange concept.

I love my kids.

I love my husband.

But I don’t feel love for myself.

I don’t feel love for my extended family.

I say the words “I love you”, but that doesn’t mean that I’m feeling it. It means, I feel it is expected, so I say it. This generally occurs when someone says it first and I’m programmed to say it in response so as to avoid hurt feelings.

But love in general is a good thing. It heels deeply broken hearts and creates the most warm and fuzzy feelings inside. When we know we are loved, when we feel it in our deepest core, is there any better feeling? Well, since Valentine’s Day is on Thursday this year, I would like to share with you the moment of my day when I felt the most loved.

Obviously, with my husband in Afghanistan, the romantic dinner and night out without the kids wasn’t on the menu for us this year (or last year since he was at Fort Knox for some training or equipment pickup or something:Army 2, Me 0). I really wasn’t expecting him to call. We’ve had issues with communication in regard to phone calls in the past and this resulted in his not calling home on Thanksgiving or on Christmas, so when the phone rang with that random six-digit phone number, I was surprised and thrilled that he called home on Valentine’s Day.

Once the initial shock wore off, he told me “Take the day off” (To which I’m thinking, “Ummm… Okay, but you aren’t gonna know if I sit on my ass all day or not, so, ummm, thanks?” And by this point, I had already rearranged the dining room twice trying to figure out where the table could go during my daughter’s birthday party next weekend.). He continued, “Don’t even worry about the kitchen (how did he know I hadn’t done dishes in three days?), dinner is on me.”

This is the point in the conversation where my brain seriously went blank and the processor in the thought formation center of my brain slowed to a grinding halt. I was totally confused, but in the same moment, I knew what he had done. It’s a very odd feeling to describe, but it was accompanied by a huge grin and some tears. He told me, “Dinner would be delivered around five.”

(Have I mentioned how much I love my husband? Other girls got flowers, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who got dinner.)

We spoke on the phone for 16 minutes before hanging up and moving to Skype, so that he could watch me open the gift he ordered me from Pajama Gram.

Side Note: Dear Pajama Gram,
Stop putting your name on the side of the box,
it totally ruins the surprise.
Sincerely, R. Noba

Anyway, my husband had ordered me two sets of Raspberry/Leopard print pajamas (one for warm nights, one for colder weather). And no, they don’t look like that on me. I’d venture to say the model in the picture is at least six inches taller than me (or at least she appears to be).

I’ve still got one more coming, but it seems mailing things from Afghanistan two weeks early isn’t enough time. This being the first time that he’s mailed something home, I can’t be too upset that it isn’t here yet. I’ve heard that letters and smaller boxes can take up to three times longer to get there from here than larger boxes, though I have no idea why that is.

So for now, I wait for more love to come in the mail.

P.S.
Dinner arrived at 4:58 and the gentleman apologized for delivering early, seems he had another five o’clock delivery.

One Cheese Pizza, One Pepperoni Pizza and One Desert Pizza! We had dinner for three days lol

One Cheese Pizza, One Pepperoni Pizza and One Desert Pizza! We had dinner for three days lol

P.P.S.
This is what I sent my husband. He said it made him feel warm and fuzzy inside… Well, no he didn’t. He compared it to the Father’s Day before Basic Training, when I made him a calendar using a small photo book, so he could mark the time while he was gone (since he would be gone at least six months, possibly longer). I used pictures that meant something to us as the images for each month, so February was pictures from our daughter’s birth, July was from our son’s birth, November from our wedding. He said this new “book” made him feel much the same way that one did. Truly loved and special. He’s read through it once already and is now taking a new “Reason” every day. He should get through it twice before he comes home from Afghanistan. So many people have given this gift idea a bad wrap, saying “guys really just want sex” but my husband felt appreciated and loved when he opened the box we sent him… And honestly, him knowing we have his back is the best gift we could have given him.

52 Reasons I love you... Though admittedly, I cheated. I added an extra "I just do" to the back of the deck... Every book has writing on the back cover, right?

52 Reasons I love you… Though admittedly, I cheated. I added an extra “I just do” to the back of the deck… Every book has writing on the back cover, right?