Olives and Father’s Day


P1030342With papa at the grill

I shop for food.  Lots.  Cooking is my passion. My parents were chefs.  My father loves nothing more than to make me surf and turf when I visit.  My son loves his papa’s surf and turf.  My weekly boxes of “stuff” that get sent when he’s deployed don’t include surf and turf. I cook fresh and local so it doesn’t exactly mail well over there.  So I find odd items that I know he’ll like and send him those instead, with the occasional vegan cookie or energy date bar without sugar.  YUM!  My mom sends me healthy stuff, lucky me, I imagine him saying as he watches the cookies and candy come in from other parents.  His father makes him homemade beef jerky.  How cool is that?

He won’t tell me what to send him.  This is maddening for me and the rest of the family. The only things he’s really talked much about are the single serving packaged olives that I sent him once and the Trader Joe’s Panang Curry Tuna that goes into each and every box.  The olives I was only privileged to find once in my weekly excursions.  So this week when I happened upon them I bought the entire display.  For future deployments.  The entire display. For future deployments.  Seems unfair that only a few families have to endure the continuous cycle of deployment. With only one percent of the U.S. population in the military, this is the sacrifice.

We think differently.  “I’ll buy this for the next one”.  The next one.  Think about that statement for a while.  We get to put our hands on our kids for a moment in time only to send them back again within a couple of months.  People look at me like I have 3 heads when I try to explain to them that his work requires him to be there continuously and that he feels compelled to DO the work.  The work matters.  It makes a difference that he’s there.  I thought about deployment when he enlisted, knew it was the reality of this life.  I must admit I didn’t expect to endure deployment over and over again.  I wonder how his body will continue to hold up under the physical and emotional toll that these deployments take on a human being. I worry about cancer from the chemicals and the exposure to the elements.  I worry about crashes on the ground and in the air.  I worry about his nutrition, his emotions and most of all I worry that he’ll not a find a good woman who understands his lifestyle in the military to share his life with. Someone else to send him boxes of stuff and notice when he says “I really liked the olive packs”.

How many mothers do you know instruct their sons to BANK YOUR SPERM, just in case the right woman never shows up, this way you can still experience fatherhood.  I worry about infertility.  This comes from being an oncology social worker AND a military mom. Happy father’s day to all the military Zen dads out there.  Send a box of stuff this week to a deployed dad you don’t know. They’ll appreciate it.

www.packagesfromhome.org

http://www.loveboxesforourtroops.com                                     Peace, love and little donuts,

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The Comfort of Peace, Balance and Taking Notice


Our family has had nearly one week of settling into the comforting news that our boy is home.  In two weeks we’ll actually be able to put our hands on him.  He’ll look different, because he is different.  War changes you.  He is a healthy, stable young man who loves his work, but war changes you.

I learned a lot from watching him go away and come back and then go away again and come back in such a short amount of time.  He taught me more about perseverance and about how our lives here on earth are just too short, simply by sharing with me his attitude about life and death as well as life and work after  his friend and a beloved colonel were killed within one week of each other.   A wise man once said, when you work a job you love, you never work a day in your life.  When you find work that integrates your talent and your passion, you have a near perfect combination for a happy, healthy work life balance.  As difficult as the losses were for him, they motivated him, and in turn motivated me to make some changes to ensure that my remaining life was one of healthy balance.

As difficult as the conflict in the middle east is for those of us living with the stress of it in our own homes, I find comfort in knowing that he wants to do this work and that he feels passionate about it.  How many people really get to say that about their jobs?

As my son got ready to board his first plane home last week, I received the news from TriCare that I was now a provider.  TriCare certainly isn’t an easy insurance to manage as a therapist.  The reimbursement rate won’t make you want to leap into their pool of providers.  But knowing that I’m providing a service to families who need support certainly gives me a way to Zen up and be strong while he’s away.  In two or three short months the dread will be back as we count the socks left in the sock drawer and begin the cycle of deployment all over again. We aren’t the only families affected by the cycle, but we feel pretty alone due to where we live.  I don’t see any American flags hanging in my neighborhood.  When he goes away again, I’ll need to constantly find other ways to Zen up as a military mom.  Due to the changes I’ve made in my life, I have more peace of mind and more energy to help other military parents endure the cycle. My own coping skills are being sharpened with every deployment.  I have my son to thank for motivating me to seek a healthier life in my work and in my personal relationships.  His service forces me to take notice when I see a student walking across campus in BDU’s or a veteran wearing his unit cap in Starbucks on the anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy (which by the way was Wednesday).  If you didn’t notice it, it isn’t too late to thank a vet or put the Got Your Six logo on your Facebook page to honor the over 1.5 million living veterans of WW II.  Find your own unique act of service this summer.     www.gotyour6.org  Bridging the civilian-military divide

My boy

E-Mail + Nutella = happy militaryzenmom


MILITARY ZEN MOM POST 3/31/12

Received first e-mail from deployed beloved boy this morning.  Sigh of relief.  This e-mail saved me from a weekend binge of whole grain bread from the oven with Nutella.  Nutella is the latest coping tool in my military Zen mom bag of mindfulness tricks.  Bake bread.  Smear on bread while warm. Eat slowly.  Repeat as Necessary.

“Mom, send sheets and a pillow that looks like this (picture of gel pillow), I’ll send you cash or check from bank”.   Appears that Amazon won’t send the kid sheets to an APO.   The guy who replaced him didn’t leave his sheets behind for him knowing he would back on next rotation.  Who does that?  And why won’t Amazon send his sheets to an APO?  Mom will investigate, then write a letter to Amazon stating why this is bull_ _ _ _.  Much like the letter I sent to the Mayor of San Francisco who wouldn’t allow the Marines to de-plane a few years ago after a deployment.  I haven’t visited San Fran since.  Remains on my list of places NOT to spend money.

The disconnect between American civilian families and military families is alive and well.  Other people’s children fighting wars in faraway places.  The cost of a volunteer military is that military families ARE NOW THE OTHER 1%.  Occupy this mother’s broken heart for a little while protesters.

Anger doesn’t serve me right now.  When the anger wells up, time to Zen up.  So, here’s how you can help:

Ways to Assist a Military Family:

http://www.hireheroesusa.org (Employment programs for returning veterans).

http://www.missisioncontinues.org (Links wounded veterans with public service).

http://www.phhnc.org (Purple Heart Homes. A program to build handicap-accessible homes for veterans).

http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org (Provides programs and services to severely injured service members during the time between active duty and transition to civilian life).

www.puppiesbehindbars.com (The subset program Dog Tags provides Psychological Service Dogs to military veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries and/or physical issues resulting from active duty in Iraq and/or Afghanistan free of charge; donations cover the $20,000.00 training cost).

Or you could just send a soldier, airman, marine or sailor a box of awesome stuff.

Prayers of healing for the families this week:

 

Peace, love and little donuts…….

Militaryzenmom