It is said that life is short. It is said that there is never enough time. Those sayings always make me feel as though I have missed out on something important in my life. I hate the “If Only” thoughts that can create doubt and regret. None of us would be who we are without our pasts and the paths that we have taken to get to this exact moment. So instead of the regret in those “if onlys”, what if we focused on the joys we find in the “because ofs”?
No, I am not one of those perky, peppy women who sees life through rose colored glasses (mine tend to be rather dirty and smudged at any given moment), nor do I believe that the glass is always half full (I just know that I can get a refill).
Last summer the Hubs retired from the US military. I can’t believe I was a military wife for 20 years. I endured 7 deployments. The first was with 2 small children. The last was with 4 children, ranging in age from 4 to 16. Each time I was left on the homefront there were different challenges and triumphs.
Yet they all had the same set of emotions when I watched the helicopter take off, my husband aboard, flying to parts unknown.
I know how short life is and I knew my Things would only be little for so long. Each deployment was for months at a time. How much of their young lives would he be missing? Would our marriage weather this time apart? What if the unimaginable happened?
It is easy to be consumed by those fears, and believe me, there were times I was very tempted.
Our marriage hit some unstable footing during those early deployments and the family felt like it was in constant flux. The Hubs and I had to find a way to feel connected to each other and the Things.
We realized that the Things would follow our lead. If we were upset by the situation, so were they, but if we found joy, guess what? They did too!
I missed my husband. I hated dealing with all the day to day stuff, plus any random difficulties that came up, alone. Parenting by myself was not always fun, but…
I had a job to do, and like any other job, I could let the “if onlys” and “what ifs” overwhelm me, or I could find positives and joy in the current circumstances that were completely out of our control.
Instead of letting our lives be filled with “If only Daddy were here” thoughts, we filled those months finding ways to include him in our lives. They created theme care packages to mail him (ranging from Star Wars to I’m BLUE Without You). Cards were mailed weekly, filled with letters, drawings, and pictures. They brought Daddy (whether it be a Flat Daddy they created or an actually Daddy doll) along to everything. We made the time apart special and traditions were begun that never would have happened otherwise.
The Things did not feel neglected with their father gone, and our marriage became a true partnership, all because we looked ahead, and not back.
We could look at the “if only he had been here” and the “what if we had” lists, but why dwell on those? Instead we created a list based on “Because of this…”
- We decided to homeschool so we could have quality time with Daddy when he was available. Obviously, homeschooling is still a part of our lives and we will always enjoy the freedom it grants us to plan special events and opportunities. (To learn more about why we began homeschooling, click here.)
- The Hubs has numerous boxes filled with cards, letters, and memorabilia sent to him by the Things and I. Now it’s Bug’s turn to receive those special boxes while she is at college.
- The Things each have special collections from the places Daddy visited while he was deployed. This tradition has continued and now they find their own special treats from the different places we have gone.
- Bug decided to go 1500 miles away to college. She was brave enough to set off on her own, knowing that home will always be here. (For how Bug and I handled the college transition, click here.)
These are only a few of the items on my gratitude list. Those deployments actually led to so many benefits that we were unaware of at the time. The greatest gift we received though was how it affected our marriage. The Hubs and I were able to build a lasting friendship based on laughter, patience, and understanding, that endured numerous deployments. Absence is not what made our hearts grow fonder, but it forced us to make our relationship stronger. It prepared us to deal with the unknown as partners when we left military life and began our quiet life, with our Things, in the country.
In many aspects of today’s world, you will find negativity. It’s true that life will not always give you what you expect, and often will smack you with challenges that might have you wanting to crawl under the covers. But don’t give in. Wouldn’t it better to stop and realize what you have gained from past experiences, and to look ahead to see what amazing adventures this new path may lead you on?
Life may be short. It is definitely too short to be filled with doubt, so fill it with joy instead. Find joy in the mundane, in the difficult, in the challenges. See what you can learn from these difficult experiences and learn what dreams may grow from them.
Life is sweet and I am blessed.
This article is part of the 21 Day Blog Challenge. Use the link to pop over and read posts from the other amazing bloggers involved.
What is one of the “Because of” moments in your life? How do you find joy when life is difficult? Please share your experiences below!