If you aren't already following Lindsay you should start now! She is one of those genuinely positive military spouses that we all need in our corner. We were excited to collaborate with her and know you will enjoy (and possibly be in awe) of her story below.
Traveling Away from Loneliness
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. ~Love Actually
Airport hugs may be one of the finest feelings in this life, especially for our little roaming family. Whenever we spill off the plane, a bedraggled mess of stuffed animals, tablets, and my shirt crusted in some snack item- I know we’ve made it. It is far from a dignified greeting, but those receiving us never care.
We fall into the relieving arms of our extended family, and then the hustle to hoist luggage out and clip in the car seat and get everyone adjusted begins.
I knew this drill well during 2015. At nine months pregnant my husband arrived safely home from deployment. He dragged back in the door thirty days later, informing me that he was leaving again. We sat in silence on the couch, my hands rubbing my belly and silently telling the gorgeous girl within that we were all going to be okay. In the blink of an eye she was screeching into the world and then we were hugging goodbye.
Back to back deployments are brutal and feel like a spin cycle in the washing machine. Only instead of getting clean you fill the washer with dirt and it just spins around, muddying everything inside. Every spouse has a way of dealing with the cycle on repeat- of missed holidays, again. Sitting as the only adult presence at the family gatherings, again. We work hard at finding the fine line between resilience and digging for the emotional capacity to keep part of our core soft and welcoming our spouse home, again.
Some spouses live in the valley of routine and stay put. In 2015 I did not find that gear to shift into. I instead decided to load my baby and me onto 16 flights. I traveled away from loneliness every chance I got.
We visited two countries, and four states. We were stationed in Hawaii at the time, so none of the flights were shorter than four hours; some were as long as nine! I was a revolving door of baby strapped to my chest, lugging suitcases and standing in the airplane’s corridors, shushing and rocking. Airplane angels were met along the way- helping me to lift items into the overhead bin. A kind grandmother held her on the flight to Japan so I could eat. Mothers everywhere locked eyes with me in a knowing glance of, we know it’s hard. But you got this.
Looking back now, it was sheer madness. But it was a hell of a lot of fun. It kept the panic in my heart stilled, as I filled it with the companionship of friends and family. The lonely days of sitting by ourselves were broken into a year of sharing our baby. She was held by so many, delighted in, and cherished.
I was given grace to find myself in motherhood with my village lifting me up. I had to travel to get to them, but every sweaty airport hour was worth the days of comfort that followed. Each holiday that passed had an empty seat at the table, a promise that one day we’d be the family we had imagined. But until that seat was filled, I could look across it and see my mom, my dad, my best friend, my sister, a rotating menu of those that decided to serve alongside us.
I had a lot of people telling me how brave I was that year, initiated into motherhood without my spouse alongside me. But I knew the truth: I did it with incredible extra support and helping hands. I am a traveler at heart. Somewhere in that first year I needed to prove to myself I could do this. I could take her with me and we could live a life full up on adventure together. I could get her to places where we could both be well.
It was the healthiest choice I could make for us, and it helped that my spouse knew it too. He supported us in the best way he could. While there were still months of reintegration repair to do upon his journey home, I look back on that year of ambitious travel with my daughter with fondness. They are memories I refer to when I do not feel strong enough to handle this military life. It’s not so much the hours and hours of exhausting, challenging travel: but the strength I found to make a change for us and live fully, presently during that time.
Whether you are approaching this season and getting to be with everyone you love, or just a few, I know you are able to make the healthiest choice for your family too.
With Christmas around the corner, I am taking one night to lay cuddled on the couch and indulge in Love Actually. I’ll see the scene where Hugh Grant’s voiceover talks about the beauty of airport greetings. I know that feeling of sanctuary well. In my year of traveling away from loneliness, I traveled into a lot more love.
If you want to learn more about Lindsay, check out her blog here: http://www.upliftinganchor.com