The Ugly Year!
We were stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado for our first duty assignment after Jody finished flight school. We both had jobs. I worked as an SLP for a rehab hospital and Jody was a Lieutenant in the US Army. We were busy, happy, enjoying life, but not making much money. We explored the beautiful mountains, skied, hiked in the beautiful canyons, watched Army beat Air Force, and pretty much enjoyed every minute of our unfettered life. We bought a repossessed townhouse and fixed it up. We were just making ends meet when we found out that we were expecting our first child. We were very excited and made plans to incorporate this little soul into our busy lives. A short 8 weeks after giving birth to our oldest son, JP, I went in for my follow-up appointment with my OB GYN and was told that I had another little blessing growing in my tummy. I laid on the examining table and cried. I then went home and told Jody what the doctor had said. To put it mildly, SHOCK overtook us. We had yet to have our first true night’s sleep since the birth of our precious boy. We couldn’t imagine a way to survive all these blessings. Jody and I both went into denial, and decided to keep this new little secret to ourselves until we could announce this news without crying. I look back at that time and remember a lot of pain. Jody was worried about how our little salaries would support this ever-growing family. I was plain ol’ ticked! I could place the one and only unauthorized encounter, if you catch my drift, and snarled at Jody as he tried to comfort me. That dog gone flight suit, wow did he look so good in it! But now I worried about my work and my fledgling career. I had just returned from a maternity leave - what would my boss think? I hadn’t completely gotten all of the baby weight off from my first baby. I realized that although everyone around me believed I was very energetic, I was actually dying on the inside from lack of sleep and a continual head ache.
As time passed, Jody and I began to get got used to the idea of a second baby. We thanked God for His blessing, tightened our belt, readjusted our expectations, and began to see the beauty of another precious soul to be added to our number. At Christmas, a mere 4 months before the due date, we finally told our family and friends. We then got to watch in horror as every well-intentioned person counted on their fingers and exclaimed what we had already become accustom to – our babies would be 11 months apart … if we were lucky! Yowsa!
Thankfully, I had a very easy pregnancy, and our beautiful daughter, Madeline (Maddy) was born the day her older brother took his first steps - 16 days before he turned one! WOW! Now I’m not going to sugar coat any of this - it was tough. If you have had children close together, you are already empathizing. The Army had Jody out on maneuvers when Maddy was just 22 days old, so I got the experience of a lifetime. I was the single parent with two little babies - twins the hard way! The next few weeks were a blur. Jody returned home and pitched in as much as he could, and things got a little better - they clearly couldn't have gotten worse. My maternity leave clock was ticking again, the second time in one year, and I knew I was headed back to work in a matter of weeks. In those days, working Moms were only able to take 6 weeks off. It seemed short then, and is even shorter now that I have watched my daughter have babies. I am grateful that she had a more manageable 12+ week maternity leave.
Time quickly marched on, and the day finally arrived for me to return to work. I got up at the ugly side of the morning, quickly dressed, got baby #1 fed, changed and dressed. I heard baby #2 waking, so I ran upstairs to get her up and fed. Moments after dressing her, she spit-up all over her clothes. So I changed her using one of the two diaper bags I had meticulously packed the night before with purchased diapers that wiped out our meager bank account. I loaded the two precious bundles in their car seats that filled our once sporty, but now way too small Nissan Maxima , and headed to the babysitter. Twice I had to pull over to the side of the road to throw up. My hands were shaking, my mind was exhausted and cloudy, and I cried the 3.5 miles to the sitter’s home. I unloaded my babies and their gear – it took three trips to and from the car. I then hopped back into the car and made my way to the hospital where I worked, wiping away tears and building-up my resolve to do what I knew I needed to do - walk into my boss’s office and quit!
I thanked my boss for saving my job, quit, gathered my belongings, and joyously went to retrieve my babies. As I was driving home, it dawned on me - I had not consulted Jody with my decision, or even discussed the possibility with him. Dread soon replaced the joy I had initially felt. I made it home, unpacked the children and made dinner. When Jody arrived home, I told him that I had quit my job. To say he was unhappy is probably the understatement of the century! He was very angry, hurt, frightened, and overwhelmed. We hardly spoke for a few days, and when we did, they were not pleasant words. For the next few weeks, all money issues were my fault. All childcare issues - my fault. And since this predicament was started with, shall we say, amour', my go to move was to cut that off. And so it began ... the “ugly year!”
As I think back to those months, I wish I had had someone to explain to me the hurt I inflicted on my spouse. But I had no one, and frankly, no one probably ever knew the struggle going on between Jody and I – it was truly a private war and fought by two exhausted soldiers! My independent behavior told Jody, my battle buddy and soul mate, that I didn't need him, and that I could not be trusted in the midst of the battle. Jody’s anger toward me told me that his love for me was conditional. We have spoken about this event numerous times. We both firmly agree that it was the right decision for me to quit work, but the way it went down hurt him at his core, and hurt me as I questioned his commitment to me. He was working as hard as he could, thought we were a team, and I sucker punched him. I was trying to be a good mother and wife, and he held back from me what I needed most – his love and understanding. This is how independent behavior feels - it hurts. Because Jody was so angry, I recoiled and retreated. Instead of running after him, I ran away emotionally and became as distant as I could so that his anger couldn't make me feel any more pain. Then, and now, I am so thankful that Jody and I both loved God so much that we never abandoned Him during these tough months. Slowly, God melted the icy edges of my heart and softened Jody's anger. We didn't give up, we stayed the course! It didn't happen overnight, or over a few weeks, and it was a good 10-12 months before we started back towards reconciliation. But God faithfully mended our hearts and wove them back together. Today, I am thankful for that year because having lived through it, I know how to empathize with others in similar hurtful situations - couples who feel abandoned, have had their trust broken and feel numb or alone in their marriages. I can also relate to those who have hurt their spouses. God can use these days to grow you up spiritually (Romans 8:28 ) if you will just turn it over to him and give him the problems that burden your heart. (1 Peter 5:7 ) Allow God to heal your hurts and in turn your marriage!
God always knows best, and I can say with 100% certainty that my daughter is a gift from God! She was the first girl born in 8 generations on my husband’s side of the family. Maddy is priceless and completes our family! She is sandwiched between her two brothers, and was just the right balance in our testosterone-filled house. Her love for God is beautiful, and she ministers to me in ways no one else can. She made me a Sweet Mama when she gave birth to my first grandchild. She is a loving wife and mother of two angels, so she totally understands the difficulty of that ugly year and knows that she is cherished!
Keep reading friends, and never lose hope! God is ready, willing and able to thaw your icy heart and rekindle your marriage as well.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.