Monday, August 25, 2008

Overnight Flight with Two Toddlers: Test of Mom's Sanity and Patience

In a few hours, the girls and I will begin our journey back to Portugal.

As I write this, the girls are not laying down properly and taking their naps. Without naps, I will step out of the car, drag luggage and two nap-deprived toddlers into the airport and into, likely, the longest, torturous night of the year. Welcome to flying sans spouse, internationally, with two sleep-deprived kids under the age of four. The flight begins at bedtime.

I have to keep a mental picture, at all times, of the end result. DH will be there to greet us after we get off the plane, shuttle to the gate, stand in line to present our passports, get our luggage, and pass through customs. He will drive us, along the beautiful coast of Lisbon, to our home. The girls will probably fall asleep in the car, while DH and I chat and catch up. If all goes well, we'll have a quick lunch and take long afternoon naps...

Once we all get caught up on sleep and back on a good schedule, I plan on sitting down with DH and begin mapping out the last 10-months of our time in Portugal. DH informed me, a few weeks ago, that we will move to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas next July (disclaimer: Army life is always in constant limbo - this date could change, however, unlikely). I've spent much of this trip trying not to let my mind drift more than week into the future. Just the thought of leaving Portugal leaves me choked up and saddened. For some reason, I thought we'd have two more years in Portugal. Darn Army schools! This school is surely interfering with what I had planned!

I have no idea how I'll go from sunny, beautiful, historic Portugal to Kansas. I know, on my flight there next year, I'll have to make a serious attitude adjustment. Once I land in Kansas and we begin in-processing and I run into people I knew in Georgia and Alaska, I'll enter the world of "I don't care." Everyone gets their day, right? Portugal has been my "day." I've learned so much about "being careful what you wish for" (Before we found out we would be moving to Portugal, I had other expectations for duty stations/jobs that didn't happen. Looking back, I was ridiculous and embarrassingly so. This has been SO much better than anything else I could have dreamed or hoped for and it wasn't a job on the radar until the last minute) during your spouses military career. Some spouses will have come from places they couldn't wait to leave, some spouses will have been at a duty station they call their "best ever/most memorable/happiest." Some are still waiting for their "day." I'm not really sure everyone will want to hear about Portugal, incessantly, as would be in my nature. DH has already warned me that I'll have to put on a happy face and keep my mouth shut as to how, "great life was in Portugal." Unless, of course, I'm eagerly asked about it (my stipulation, not DH's).

I'm willing to bet that most, if not all, of us military spouses get their "day" at some point along the way. A duty station in which they love so much, they leave broken hearted. Portugal has been mine. I don't anticipate any other duty station will ever top it. So, tonight, I head back to the place I love with all my heart. I plan to soak up 10-more months of sun, beauty and memories (and blog about it, of course)...

7 comments:

Angie said...

Good luck on the flight.

I have a hard time adjusting to new places, well except Campbell. Everywhere else, I have been a bit homesick at the beginning, either because I didn't have friends yet, or was adjusting to different jobs, or (in Georgia) I just really didn't want to be there. By the time I left each place they've all felt a bit like home. Even though I don't want to live in Alaska again, part of me will always miss it.

This was my DREAM station. We've joked that getting to live in Europe was the reason that I married Allen. While that's not true, it was the reason that I was able to make peace with him joining the Army (we'd dated long before then.) It took too long to get here, and now we won't be here as long as I would like, either. When Allen moved our potential leave date up by a few months, I was stressed with the whole idea that "we must see all of Europe in the next several months." Of course, I realize that I will not be able to see all of Europe EVER, but there is so much I would like to see and do and would like more time.

Of course, you aren't seeing Matt as much as you would like now. My understanding is that Matt will be home A LOT at the next place. You will find stuff to like about there, too. It will probably (ok, definitely) be harder, but there are positives to every place. That's why a bit of me belongs everywhere we've lived.
(sorry, hijacking your blog and I actually have a post started on this very topic, but not ready for posting it yet.)

Jay and Amie Davis said...

The good thing about Kansas is that my now brother & sister-in-law live there with the twins, so Jay and I will be able to see you much more often!! YAY! I know you'll miss Portugal, but we've all been missing YOU!

The Dunns said...

Sending wishes for a blissfully peaceful flight your way...

Leavenworth?!? I'm so jealous! So many of our Alaska friends are there. Tell them 'hi' for me while I'm stuck here in Alaska surviving another deployment. (Time to paste a "good ole' Army wife" smile on.)

Natalie said...

Angie, I actually miss AK too, from time to time. I really enjoyed Georgia, once I got used to it. Would love to live there again. I'm like you in that it takes me a bit to embrace a place (Portugal the exception) and then I end up finding good in it (if I had really hated AK, I would have moved home during the deployment-I had an open invite from family - that's for sure). I would love to see more of Europe too before we have to leave - but, if we get to one more place outside of Portugal, that'd be pushing it. Glad to hear Germany is your "dream" duty station (Though, that wasn't hard to tell :)

I'll do a pros and cons list of moving to Kansas as the date approaches. There are definatly some pros!! I know I'll like it there. I'm sad b/c I honestly feel as if I could make my life here for good!

Todd Davis said...

I've been reading your blog and saw that you were coming to our neck of the woods. We'd love to welcome you, Matt, and your girls once you get here - its no Portugal, but I'm sure its better than some posts! May is actually from Leavenworth originally, and you're not far at all from the minor metropolis of Kansas City. Geographically, I'm sad to report it doesn't quite share Portugal's beauty.

May Davis said...

Todd told me that you are heading to my hometown. Although I'm from a military family too so its not exactly "home" like other people think of it. We were leaving Germany and my dad was retiring in a few years so the army let him choose his posting. I was born on Ft. Leavenworth when my Dad was attending CGSC (do they still call it that?) and they thought that Leavenworth was such a nice place to raise children they ASKED to move back.
I guess if you think that everything always works out the way its supposed to, if my parents had asked to go someplace else, I would have grown up elsewhere, I wouldn't have lived in the area as an adult, I wouldn't have met Todd and wouldn't have my fabulous babies. So I suppose unexpected benefits can always come along even if they aren't obvious at the time. :)

Natalie said...

May, it's funny how life works out!

Yes, we'll be heading to Kansas for what used to be called, CGSC. I believe it's ILE now, but, honestly can't remember if that's quite it or not.

I know I'll enjoy Kansas. Especially since I'll have friends there. It'll also be the first time in nearly five years that I'll have lived in the continental US. So, that'll be a great perk. So far, I've enjoyed all the places I've lived, in one way or another. Matt has spent time in Leavenworth and enjoyed it. He thinks it'll be fine. Now, that says a lot coming from a man who has a deep love of the Adironacks mountains and isn't truely happy anywhere that doesn't have true mountains (they can't be "ant hills" as he likes to say) and lots of green. Even better, camping at the top of a peak, in a snow storm, in the middle of January. That's his kind of life. It's safe to say, we won't be settling in Kansas. However, I love to learn about how other people in the country (world) live/what their life is like and I'm sure we will embrace Kansas while we're there. We'll have to meet up while we're there!