The Lawnmower

Today in the mail I received the annual base housing letter which details a wide range of threats which become relevant during the summer months. Keep a lid on your garbage can, don’t let trash or animal waste accumulate on your property, don’t make it difficult for maintenance people to work on your house, etc. As I was skimming for anything relevant or different from years past, I re-read one specific rule: regular lawn mowing is required.

To be honest, I hadn’t expected to need to mow the lawn yet. It’s still what I consider to be a rather cold spring, and I assumed I could hold out further into May before that specific chore would nag at me. But, looking at my window, that is apparently not the case. In fact, rather than growing in with some sense of even-ness, the lawn of our PMQ is an incredibly patchy array of dead-ish patches, and patches which are ridiculously overgrown to the point of fostering abundant dandelions and hidden dog droppings. This, I think, actually serves to highlight the lengthening state of the grass, making my lawn look completely unmaintained. Being in the process of house-cleaning (and car cleaning, and garage cleaning) in preparation for my honey’s HLTA (similar to R&R for you American folks), I decided logically that today would be lawn mowing day. It was beautiful outside. The grass was dry. I had received detailed instructions from T (the resident lawnmower when she isn’t off being bad ass and incredibly sexy in Afghanistan) on how to use our unfortunately old and damaged mower. I was ready for this.

You see, I wasn’t just going to mow the lawn. I was going to further the independence I have been carefully honing during this deployment. I fix things, I plant things, I cook things, and now…I was going to mow things. So after removing the mower from the garage and rolling it proudly to the driveway, I followed her careful instructions: check the gas and oil (CHECK), prime using the rubber priming button (CHECK), grasp both handles to the main push-bar of the mower (CHECK), and pull back the cord vigorously. This is where, apparently, my inner powerful butch lesbian wimped out. I cannot for the life of me pull hard enough, or fast enough (or some combination of the two) to turn over the mower motor. I cursed, I broke into a sweat, I returned to my wife for skype directions to ensure I was trying correctly. But no, I will not be mowing the lawn. In fact, with my tail between my legs I have to either pay a neighbourhood child (who apparently surpasses me in arm strength), or request my love to do it on her BREAK from deployment. Imagine.

I realize this isn’t a big deal, or a shameful one. No one can do it all, and I have never touted my athleticism or brute strength. In fact, before this point I had not mowed a lawn since roughly twelve years ago when my father decided my inability to see the patches I had missed meant I was banned from that chore. The thing is, the lawn mower became a metaphor. I spent the afternoon becoming a weepy stereotype, feeling incapable and alone and completely overwhelmed. I am tired of carrying all the chores, and paying all of the bills, and walking the dog, and cooking all of my sad one-person meals. I am tired of learning to do new things, independently, and I am tired of sleeping alone at the end of the day. I know these are small potatoes, I do. But sometimes I think everyone has to cry and stomp their feet because just like mom always said (and still says, and will say when she reads this post) “well, LIFE isn’t fair”.

Today life isn’t fair, the lawnmower won, and I really miss my handier, stronger, yardwork-loving wife.

Pre-Deployment Weight Gain

Learning to be an army wife is making me fat… please tell me I’m not alone in this.

On our third date my wife (or then, barely blossoming girlfriend) informed me she would be deploying this March for an 8 month tour in the great sandbox of the middle east. From that  point on our relationship played out in tandem, one part warm fuzzy future, one part living in the moment with the clock ticking. We spent substantial time planning the dynamics of her absence — would I drop her off? Will we use a doggie daycare service when my job kicks into full swing? Who will I call if I get snowed into our house? You know, the important stuff. We also, subconsciously, began living like pleasure-seeking heathens. Cheesecake in bed, McDonalds every other day (“because”, she whined, “I will miss it for a whole 8 months!”), and substantial wining and dining with the friends and family who would be missing her, too. It was easy to justify anything just by looking at the calendar, and touting how much we were going to enjoy the coming days before she left. I am fairly certain the final month of her time at home was spent completely sedentary, save trips to restaurants, fast food chains, and the grocery store if we were feeling especially daring. On March 16th she said goodbye, leaning down into the driver’s seat of our car (a moment I am sure I’ll be writing about later), and I have had a lot of realizations since.

A lot of the changes have been positive. Life isn’t impossible, I am (it turns out) fairly capable of this whole rampant independence thing. I get up. I work. I read. I walk our dog. There have been negatives, too, like long lonely evenings and the frustrations of communication breakdowns. Perhaps the most alarming, however, has been realizing that I have gotten fat. In fact, I have gained north of 20 pounds, perhaps upwards of 30, since the end of the summer. This is horrifyingly demonstrated by the lack of any fitting pants in my wardrobe, along with brand new stretch marks on my thighs, hips, and boobs. This happened somehow behind the scenes while romping in the sheets and languishing on the couch pre-deployment,  but has since offered a harsh cruel reality of the army wife life. Since realizing how out of hand this problem had gotten I quickly created a meal plan and fitness regime, which I am honestly enjoying, but it doesn’t diminish how absolutely demoralizing it was to realize that all of my enjoyment of my beautiful wife before her tour, went straight to my hips (…and thighs, and boobs…).

I am theoretically now back on track to returning to a comfortable weight, though we’ll see how morale and success play out, but now I am curious — is this a commonality amongst army spouses? None of my deployment literature warns of over-indulging before the big day, but I do get an awful lot of ads in my mailbox for fitness bootcamps…so maybe this is a predictable cycle. Army spouse gains pre-deployment, spends deployment trying to regain or exceed pre-existing hotness to welcome home their loved one, and then the cycle begins again. Did you, oh wise army spouses of the internet, play a similar game of deployment fitness yo yo?

It’s just funny how with all of the planning, discussions, precautions, and training, there is still always the unexpected to keep you on your toes. Now, excuse me, I need to go enter today’s calories on MyFitnessPal. Leave is only a few weeks away, afterall.

Oh, for the record, she gained weight too 😉 — but I don’t have the middle east sun to sweat off my extra pounds!