On Wednesday we met some friends on Elemendorf for some fun. The USO brought Sesame Street to Alaska. I had never done much with the USO or any of their activities, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Erica grabbed some extra tickets, offered them to me, and we went. It's nice to get out of the house, and anything geared towards little kids works for me. I won't be the only one yelling at a kid, brushing goldfish to the side of the floor with my foot while no one looks, trying to calm a toddler, breastfeeding, or getting up in the middle of the show to sway a crying baby. Perfect way to spend the day.
We haven't really watched much Sesame Street, in fact, I didn't even know what channel it was on. But, Jenssen did have this cute shirt, saying "Hugs and Kisses 25 cents" with a picture of Elmo. I bought it hoping to make some money... So, I dug out the shirt, and away we went.
Wow! Was I impressed! They had all kinds of hand outs for the kiddos. A favorite for the kids, and a pain for every parent, was this spinning lighted bundle of fun.... Thanks Elmo.
Despite us never watching Sesame Street, Jenssen really enjoyed the show. (However, in the day following the show, I realized we do have a lot of books that have Elmo, so maybe it wasn't all so foreign to him.) Could have been the lights, singing, dancing, all the other kids singing and dancing, the bright fuzzy things dancing on stage, or his new Elmo toy, but he really got into it. That is when I really lost it.
One minute I'm trying to make sure Jenssen doesn't whack the lady in front of us with his Elmo toy, and the next I'm bawling. I don't know if it was the post partum hormone changes or what, but this show was starting to get to me. I was feeding Rowan, and looked down at him, as Elmo is singing some song, with Cookie Monster on back up (who can DANCE by the way), about having to move around all the time and being lonely. That is when I realized how different my boys' lives will be from many others' as military children. The song, about always being the new kid, having a new room, new home, having to find new friends, and missing daddy, suddenly hit home. I looked at Rowan, and wondered if he would like this life his dad and I had chosen for him. I looked over at Jenssen, and wondered the same thing. Would they every resent us for moving them so much? For never having that childhood friend they did everything with? For having a mom that plays both roles every other year? For having a dad that is gone for such a long time? I really started to second guess our plans.
Then the next song was about how different life was as a military child. The cool places they got to visit, live, and the friends they meet along the way. Grover (I think that is the blue guy with long arms and legs) started to explain that you can keep in touch with friends you make when you move, and how lucky we are to have telephones and video chats. Cookie Monster added how much daddy loves and misses you, and how important his job is.
I looked around, and saw this production. Jenssen, hording his three Elmo toys, the pile of other freebies they threw at me, the theater packed with kids and their parents in uniform, the USO volunteer standing around smiling and meeting our every need, taking pictures for parents as their kids got to shake Elmo's hand, and telling US thank you. I realized, despite the challenges, things would be okay. We choose to live this life, and people, amazing wonderful people, choose to support us. They boys will have some struggles that most kids don't. But thanks to so many, they will have the love and support they need to deal with those struggles and grow into strong people. To everyone who has ever said thank you to Justin, shook his hand, kept a picture of him, prayed for him, visited us, thought of us, wore red on Friday, displayed a yellow ribbon, or supported the military or military families in any way, thank you.
As much as I miss each and every one of you, I'm glad Justin and I took this opportunity. We are alone, and that sucks, every holiday, every birthday, every day. I wish we were closer, that the boys could just run over to grandma's, or dinner with family wasn't a preplanned event. But living away from home can be a good thing. It has taught Justin and I to learn to lean on each other. Our kids will see that, and learn to lean on each other and us. Struggles create a strong family. Add that to the amazing family they have waiting back home, anticipating every visit, and these kids are bound for greatness!
I'm glad the theater was dark, and that Erica was a few seats down, because for the first time in weeks I had time to put mascara on, and it was running all over the place! I looked back down at Rowan, and he quit eating long enough to smile at me. One of those fully, happy, and content baby smiles. All would be well. There would be struggles, but there would also be strength.
I love my family, all of ya! My boys are so blessed to have you all, constantly thinking, loving, and praying for us. No matter where we are, I know all of you are only a phone call away, and that so many people are looking out for military kids. That makes this life so much easier. Who knew some bold colored, fuzzy creatures on a stage would remind me of that.
However one thing that doesn't make life easier, is that stupid Elmo toy...