Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The BEST Christmas Present I've ever received

Mike and I decided when we got married that we wouldn't air our dirty laundry in public.  Like every couple we have our issues.  We have fought and disagreed and hurt one another.  I'm going to be perfectly honest though and say that in our relationship, Mike is the better person.  He just is.

Today though, there is something I need to write about.  A confession.  An acknowledgement that I was wrong.

One day Mike came home from work and told me about this presentation he attended at work.  One of his co-workers volunteered for a deployment and he was sharing his experiences with the group.  Mike told me all about the presentation and how interesting the deployment seemed.  He mentioned it a few times and my heart filed with dread.  One day I got a call from Mike telling me that he had been thinking about volunteering and that he wanted my opinion.

I was quiet for awhile and then I made two mistakes.  The first was that I told Mike that in the past when a thought comes to him over and over it is usually the spirit telling him something.  The other was that I wouldn't help him make the decision.  I told him that I didn't want him to go and so I couldn't really say yes but I also didn't want to be the one to stand in the way of his goals for his career.  If I said no then he might resent me and I didn't want to be resented.  So I told him he had to make the decision and I would support him once the decision was made.

Mike finally decided that going was the right choice.  He thought about it and prayed about it and came to the conclusion that in the end, it would be the right path for him to take.  I wish I could say that I was totally true to my word that I would support him in his decision.  I tried.  I have been married to Mike for ten years and in those ten years he has never made a choice that has led our family wrong.  I am confident in his ability to receive inspiration.  I also know of Mike's sincere love for me and I trust that he would never make a decision that would hurt me unless he felt it was the right thing to do.  So I told myself those things over and over.  He loves you.  You trust him.  There is a good reason for this.

There was one time that I behaved badly and fell apart, accusing him of putting our family in difficulty.  I told him he hurt my feelings and I couldn't believe that he had volunteered.  How could he do this to us?

But that was months and months ago and I had come to peace with it long ago.  I finally just decided that the decision was made and I did not want this to come between us and create tension and resentment in our relationship.  I realized that it was completely unfair for me to accuse him of anything.  He had asked for my input and I bowed out and refused to be a part of the decision.  If anyone was to blame it was me.  I realized that by putting the burden on his shoulders I was essentially just switching positions so that if someone got to feel resentment it was me.  And if I truly believed that he was following the spirit then it wasn't really him that was hurting me, it was the Lord and if I trusted the Lord to lead our family then I needed to trust him in this situation as well.  So I recommitted to uniting with him and supporting him in every way.

I feel like once I got past my initial hurt and resentment, I really did make peace.  I was able to find some positive reasons for Mike's departure.  They didn't really make up for his absence, in my opinion, but they were still positive and opportunities for me to grow.  His two month absence this summer was really bad.  It shouldn't have been so bad and I was not expecting it to go the way it did.  Piper being so sick and breaking my knee really made things much more difficult than I ever anticipated.  And I had expected those two months to be the easy ones so I was pretty nervous about the five month deployment.  But fortunately, my knee surgery and recovery required so much of my focus and attention that I put the deployment far from my mind.

It wasn't really until October that I began to really think about him leaving again.  He was slated to leave in November but there were too many professors leaving or retiring from the Academy that his commander asked for approval to have his deployment delayed a month.  The delay was approved and I was really excited to discover that he would only miss Christmas, not Thanksgiving too.  But as Thanksgiving got closer the people where he was deploying to said that it didn't make sense to make him miss Christmas with his family since they were all going to be taking leave to be with their families anyway.  So he would show up and have nothing to do because they would all be gone.  They said he should come after Christmas.  The possibility of him being here for Christmas was really wonderful and I hoped and prayed that they could work it out.  The people in the Middle East approved it and the people here approved it.  But then there was some confusion and we heard "yes you can come later" and then "no you can't" and both of those answers over and over.

In my heart I felt peaceful.  I felt happy that he was at least here for Thanksgiving and we would make it work regardless of when he left.  But the uncertainty was starting to wear on me.  Then things started going downhill when we got the news that they would not pay him the proper per diem.  This meant that he would have to pay for his lodging, food, and car for five months with his own money.  Well, this obviously was unacceptable and I was pretty mad.  How could they even threaten such a thing?  It was one thing to volunteer for a deployment and quite another to have to pay for that deployment.

Mike was reassured that they would figure things out and if not, his commander would not send him.  In the meantime, his delay was accepted and we were told that he would not leave until after Christmas.  We thought that was the official word until Monday night when we got more news.

Eli had a Christmas concert that we were getting ready to go to when I got a text from Mike.  He was planning on coming to the concert but wasn't home yet.  His text said that he wasn't coming to the concert because he just got an email telling him that he had to leave on Wednesday.  It was Monday evening and they were expecting him to leave Wednesday.  He explained to them that he had already had his delay approved and he wasn't leaving until they figured out his per diem.  The women he talked to hung up and promptly told her commander about her conversation with Mike.  Mike then got a call from this women's commander who told him that if he wasn't on the plane on Wednesday he could be arrested.

All of this was reported to me minutes before I left for Eli's concert.  I thought his concert was going to be a quick, fun concert for just the kindergartners and first graders.  It ended up being much more than that with the Junior High choir and band and guitar groups also playing.  There were hundreds of people all crowded into this tiny gym and so many children on the stage that it took me half of the concert just to identify Eli and I only found him because of his red hair and could only just see the back of his head.  Meanwhile I'm trying to hold myself together and Will, bless his heart, processes things by talking about them so he just kept blabbing to everyone he knew the news of Mike leaving in a day.  And then they would all turn to me for confirmation and it was torture.  All I could think of was getting out of that crowded, hot, noisy gym.  I was tempted to sneak Eli off the stage and go home.  (After his singing he had to stay on the stage while the first graders performed)

Finally we got home and Mike was there waiting and I pretty much spent the remainder of the night crying.  How could he be deploying?  How could they force him to pay for it?  How could they expect him to leave with such short notice?  How could this be happening?  Didn't they have any humanity in them?

This morning we both woke up with heavy hearts.  Mike promised to update me when he found out what was going on.  I had some errands to run and Eli's party to attend so I checked my email when I could.  Mike forwarded the information as he received it which was essentially saying again that his delay was approved and he should not be expected to show up in the Middle East until after Christmas.  By this time I had pretty much just decided that I was not going to believe anything until Mike had the plane ticket in his hand.

As I was leaving to pick up the boys from school I happened to call Mike and just see how he was doing.  He sounded upset and I asked if he was ok and he said something like, "I'm just trying to process the new information I've received."  I asked him if there was more and what else was happening now and he said that he wasn't going.

I was stunned.  What did he mean he wasn't going?  He explained that the slot he volunteered for was a "do not fill" slot and somehow they had put him in that slot but once they realized what had happened they canceled his deployment.  He isn't going.  HE ISN'T GOING!

I'm in shock.  We both are.  My first response was to be very hesitant about showing my excitement.  I worried that Mike was disappointed because he had felt good about going and had really weighed the positives against the negatives.  When I asked him how he felt and if he was ok with not going he said, "I'm thrilled!"  And then I just started crying.  He wanted to surprise me so he had pretended to be a little upset and sad when he first answered.  

I can't believe it.  I really can't.  It has been such an emotional roller coaster and my mind was completely fixed on him going and being alone and having to shoulder this burden of taking care of our family.  In my mind I made plans to make a "Flat Mike" so he could participate in our birthdays and holidays.  I had prepared Family Home Evenings so that I wouldn't be stressed about doing that last minute.  I had talked to the boy's teachers to just make them aware that the boys might go through a phase for awhile until we got used to Mike being gone.  I had anticipated Mike missing so much of Piper's growth and thought about how she would be scared of him at first.  I had considered getting babysitting lined up for me to get a break.  Mike had made a list of things he did and all the important information I'd need in case something went wrong (how he'd fix it or who to call).

And now he's staying and I can barely believe it.  It's like a complete mind shift has to occur now.  I'm so relieved and so confused and feel so emotionally drained.  Just last night I was sitting on the couch sobbing my eyes out that he was leaving tomorrow.  And now I am sitting here in shock that he isn't even going at all.  And grateful.

It has been such an emotionally draining experience for me and has been so back and forth that I can barely even get my hopes up that it can really be cancelled.  We both keep thinking that tomorrow we are going to get another email saying, "Just kidding.  You still have to go."  But, I'm hoping this is the final answer.  


Michelle said...

Congrats. That's great news!

Rachel Allen said...

Yeah!!!! So so so happy for you! What a great Christmas present!

Ian and Bonnie Gutzman said...

YAYYYYY!!!!! Hopefully you don't get any more emails or phone calls and he just gets to stay home:):) Merry Christmas to you!

Adam Clark said...

So happy for you guys. And what a great experience (although hard) that will shape the rest of your marriage. thanks for sharing.


Jess Clark said...

Sweet mother!

The Duke said...

Holy cow! I just read this. YEAH! That's all I can say.
It has obviously been a wrenching experience but how blessed you are now.
I'm sure Lindsey fully understands. I now wish Hans didn't have to go, either.
Merry Christmas!!!

Amy Newby said...

Very happy for you!! And thanks again for singing on Sunday, you all did such a beautiful job, and so many people commented on how much they loved that number. Again, I'm So happy for this good news for your family!

Kaitlin Lanham said...

Are you serious?! I can't believe it! I just read this too. Wow. What a blessing.

Mommo said...

This is fantastic. Now he can get back to his cheese making and you can enjoy being together.