It was hard to be a single parent for so long. I don't know how military wives do it--they are made of strong stuff! Sometimes I had to just leave and go on a walk around the block (usually in a huff). Sometimes the kids had to do something similar.
Our phone conversations with Jared usually buoyed us up somewhat. We needed all the strength we could get. One night as Jared and I were talking after I had finally put the kids to bed, he said something like, "I just wish you could be here and work here. You'd really like it." I passed that off as one or both of the following: 1) Jared's communicating to me that he missed me; 2) a way for him to convince me that his job was great, and, therefore, these sacrifices were worth it. I didn't for a moment take it seriously.
I mean, come on: I hadn't worked since June 2010 (six and a half years of unemployment, people)! Sometimes I even forgot I was a nurse; I just kept renewing my license every two years.
So I forgot about it immediately. Our anniversary was approaching, but he wouldn't be home for it. We had been celebrating every milestone/birthday/holiday since Halloween a little early because he was always gone, and the big 1-4 wouldn't be any different. HOWEVER, he did get me an early surprise for my anniversary: a JOB in EL PASO, complete with babysitting from my very capable sister, Noelle!
Say what?? Yep.
It was a bit of a whirlwind after that: getting all the approvals, trying to get all the necessary documents sent (mostly from Alabama), airline tickets, etc. But somehow, we did it. The deal was, I was going for the experience: a break from full-time mothering, a vacation with my husband, and a chance to be a nurse again. I wasn't going for the money. Noelle would be paid every cent I earned. Believe me, she totally earned it!! For an account of what went on for the week and a half I was gone, see Noelle's blog. It is a great, honest & hilarious read.
On the way to El Paso, I could hardly believe I was going. Was this for real? Would Noelle survive? Would my kids miss me? The answer to the last question was: Yes, but probably only Natalie!
While I was there, the food was great and the nights were long but almost magical. It was hard to stay awake all night, especially when it was slow, but I'm so glad we got to bond with those folks!
|Here he is in front of one the church buildings we attended.|
The mornings were always glorious and clear, with the Organ and Franklin Mountains of New Mexico looking like a watercolor painting. By the way, we technically worked in New Mexico, but we stayed in El Paso.
Soon, it was time to go home. I worked my last night and took a quick nap on a couch in the airport the next morning. I was so happy to be able to sit on the plane by my new friend, Damaris, who had trained me on my first day!
PS-We are ALL so grateful to Noelle, who made this all happen!