Who’s Going to the Inauguration? This Gal!

by Vivian G.

Capital Dome

Capital Dome

I’m getting packed up to head to DC this weekend along with half of the rest of the country, it seems. The warnings of crowds and foul weather will not deter me from attending the inauguration festivities next week. My mother, bless her, is flying up to watch my kidlets so I can attend. I am driving up with a dear friend and meeting up several other military spouses whose husbands are deployed like mine. There is going to be a lot of quality time with grandparents this week it seems! We are all staying with friends and family and really looking forward to both the time together and seeing our next Commander in Chief sworn in.

Putting together this trip – even though it is only a three-hour drive – was an exercise in strategic logistics. And that is without packing for children and planning kid friendly plane or car games like I normally have to do when traveling (extra snacks that aren’t too messy and sticky, 2 of everything so there is no fighting over the most prized toy, extra clothes for when the non-sticky snack inevitably ends up…sticky, etc). However, not taking the kidlets with me on a trip requires just as much planning. Who can watch them is first and foremost the question asked. Like most military families we don’t live close to extended family. At least we are all on the eastern seaboard so that does make it a bit easier of course.

Also, like most younger couples (ok, I’m stretching it there but I’m hanging on to the “younger” moniker as long as I can!) both sets of parents are still working pretty much full time. Luckily though, grandparenting in our family is very hands on. And, I feel totally comfortable asking either set for help. Talking about boundaries and differences in opinions on raising children can be a whole other post (old age seems to soften grandparents’ thoughts on spanking, the importance of going to bed on time, candy, and carbonated beverages in our family) but in general, even though my mother drives me crazy with rearranging furniture and my mother-in-law makes me feel guilty for not having appropriate kitchen gadgets, there is no one I would trust more with my kids. And the granddads are great too – they are always down for building a fort, pretend fishing off the swingset in the backyard, and generally anything that includes mud, batteries, or transforming transformers.

As military spouses, we do the single parent duty a lot. It isn’t out of the ordinary to be expected to be in two places at once, is it? And then there is the disappointment on the times you actually can’t perform magic and someone’s Parents’ Night is missed or you just can’t make that birthday party for one child because there is no one to watch the other. So, as independent as I would categorize myself, I really couldn’t “do” my life without the support and help of my family, friends, and neighbors. From my parents flying up to watch the kids this weekend to my neighbors coming over at night to sit with my kids while they are asleep so I can go to the grocery store to get the ingredients for cupcakes that I forgot I was responsible for bringing in the next day to my friend down the street who brings me these great chocolate covered cookies from Harris Teeter every once in awhile just because she knows I like them and probably won’t buy them for myself (Digestives is a nasty name for a blissfully wonderful cookie – biscuit if you are from across the pond). And, while I’m thinking about it, one of my babysitters comes from a Navy family and her mother has covered for me at times when I had an early class and had to have someone watch the kids for the 30 minute difference between when her daughter could get here. When I call to profusely thank her she almost sounds embarrassed I’m making a big deal about it. She tells me she remembers what it is like. She also shares her experience of having another Navy wife who lived down the street from her who watched her daughter when she was working sometimes. She also brought down dinner occasionally. I feel myself getting teary (you that special combination of relief, stress, exhaustion, and thankfulness that something will work out?) and realize this is her way of paying it forward. I am so lucky to be in this sorority of such strong, dynamic, and caring women – something I had no idea of when I married into military life.

Yes, it is challenging to live this life. But I think we are better for it. The relationships we form are strong, meaningful, and last way past physical proximity. We help each other without thinking twice about it and without expecting anything in return. I’m excited about this weekend ahead. I look forward to our new national leadership and to being present during the making of history. However, I do realize I am only able to be there through the help and caring of others in my life. I realize I have only gotten by in life by the kindness and interventions of both family and friends but also strangers.

And I’m thankful for all of it.

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