Driving away from Air Movements in the earlier hours of Mother's Day sent thoughts streaming beyond my windscreen. Recalling Mother's days surrounded (sometimes literally) by my children, and periodically my husband present too, it dawned that this day would be spent alone for the first time - alone on Mother's Day. The thought recalled an experience that occurred during our very first military separation.
Our first son was around 15 months old. We were living in Tasmania when the Defence Force became our chosen path together. Communication was not what it is today and phone calls would be few and far between. Letters were a major source of comfort, both in the writing and receiving.
About 5 weeks into the 12 week separation I found myself crawling around the lounge room floor tidying at the end of a particularly difficult day. With our dog asleep in the sunroom and our son asleep in his, the night-time whinges emerged.
There was reason to whinge. There were very difficult things happening at the time, for example, I emerged from our back door one morning to find the 2.5 metre tall hedge that ran along the external boundary of our property, cut down! An older gentlemen who had expressed interest in purchasing the back end of our large block was standing in our yard with a chain saw and an air of misplaced pride floating about him like a swarm of flies.
The subdivision of the property had not been completed and no money had exchanged hands, but this retired fellow needed something to keep him occupied, obviously. When he received the letter from our solicitor a day later demanding he cease all works until ownership was finalised he came belting on the front door demanding to know who had initiated the action.
When informed it was me he was incredulous! "You?" he said looking past me to see where my husband was. He swore, remembering my husband was away, and threw me a look that read, 'You ridiculous little women?'
I asked how he planned to replace the 30 metre stretch of hedge, dismantled greenhouses, and razed garden beds if the sale did not go through.
He grew red in the face, spun on his heel and stormed out the gate with a cautious glance in the direction of our Great Dane who had sensed the tension and moved closer to make sure all was well. Having to work through problems because contact was not possible, taught me early that most difficult decisions would not wait for 'him to come home'.
So, back to the late night lounge-room rant. My internal whinging ran the gambit of all you can imagine ending with:
"...this is ridiculous, I might as well be a single mother!"
I was immediately pulled up short by a different inner voice setting me straight - with force:
'No you don't! You do not know what it is like to be a single mother, because unlike single mother's you have a partner who, if he could be near, he would! You know he would rather be with you than away. You know little of what it is to be a single mother.'
How do you argue with that? I rose from my spot and 'got on with it', and while I cannot proudly claim to never have internally whinged again, I can say that 'that voice' has returned when needed to keep me level - it usually leads me to find projects that keep my heart and mind daily on my husband while we manage separation. There is such a project to find at present.
Recently that voice returned while navigating a new posting. As a result I began to line a window frame with tiny hearts, but that will have to wait until another time.
For further thoughts on finding strength while separated, listen to 'He Will Return.'