Sunday, August 26, 2018

Celebrating Birthdays as a Military Kid

I thought of a million ways to start this post, but let me just say...

"Today is my sweet baby boy's 5th birthday!!!!"

It sounds so cliché, and I feel like every parent says the same thing every year on their kids' birthdays, but...

"Where does the time go?!"

It literally feels like yesterday when we moved here to Texas, and Mattis was barely 1! He took his very first steps in our home here, and here he is, 4 years later. Mattis is my comedian. He keeps me laughing every single day with his funny antics and hilarious insights about life and his circumstances. His love language is physical touch (physical touch is the lowest on the ladder for me), and he shows me every day that human physical contact is important. He is quite the charmer with his adorable smile, and nobody is a stranger to him. He is sensitive, and wears his heart on his sleeve (just like his mama and his sister). He loves playing with Ninja Turtles and the Hulk at bath time, but also loves playing with his sister and her American Girl dolls. He loves watching YouTube videos of kids opening toys (eye roll). He is a dreamer and a lover of life. He shows me not to take life too seriously. Happy 5th Birthday to my sweet baby boy!

Here is our family when he FIRST moved here to Texas!

Here is my sweet birthday boy, today as a big 5 year old!

This isn't the first birthday that Nick has missed. I can't count the number of birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions that Nick has missed due to commitments to the Marine Corps. I distinctly remember Dannika's 1st birthday. Our first child's first birthday, and he was in Afghanistan. I remembered how disappointed he sounded on the phone when he called me on her birthday all the way from Afghanistan. I vividly remember him trying to sound excited and up beat as he Skyped us on her birthday, but as his wife, I could see right through his facade of fake emotion. Truth is, he was sad he couldn't be with us to celebrate such a milestone birthday. It never gets easier either. Every time he has been away for a big milestone or holiday, I get the same Nick on the phone. A father trying his best to have a positive attitude, and trying his best to exude some sort of excitement on the phone or FaceTime as he hears his family celebrating miles and miles away. But I know. I've been married to the guy long enough to know when he's trying to hide his disappointment for not being here with us. 

But this is our life. 

Nick texted me today, and specifically asked me to "...make sure Mattis knows that I really want to be there for his b day. I can't tell you how many birthdays {insert name of someone in his life} missed and never cared about calling or doing anything for us." 

Then I my car...after working out at the gym. Sweaty and crying is not a good combination for me. Not good for my skin...

It's tough on me as a mom to try and make things like birthdays super special for my kids. I have a lot of mom guilt, because their dad's not here. So I make up for it by going a little overboard with birthday celebrations. But in my 10 years as a military spouse, I have come to realize it's even harder on the spouse that is gone. Imagine watching your family "do life" from afar, and there's nothing you can do to be there with them. It sucks. I remember being deployed, and while I wasn't married or had kids, I remember watching everyone "back home" living their lives, while I was just "there". Someone once told me, "When you're deployed (or away from family), life stops for you. But life goes on for everyone else."

So, what do we do to make it easier?

FACETIME AND PHONE CALLS! It's all we got! I make it intentional to FaceTime Nick when we sing Happy Birthday (at 6am), and we call him and FaceTime him multiple times throughout the day. We try and make him a part of our celebration as much as possible! I constantly remind the kids of how much he loves them, and wishes he were here. 

As a seasoned military family, we've come up with creative ways to include our Marine when he's gone. I think it makes my kids appreciate him so much more when he is home, and it makes him appreciate us so much more when he's with us. At the end of the day, we are super proud of Nick. All the time he's spent away is worth it to us. He has one of the most noble professions in the world, and I proudly stand by him!

Here are some photos from Mattis' special day!

I went to HEB (our local grocery store) at 9:30 the night before to buy candles, because I realized we had no candles for his Birthday donuts.
I woke up at 5:30 to go to Shipley's Donuts to buy him donuts before he woke up.

I'm also going to add...
This dang "Happy Birthday" banner that I bought at Target was a PAIN IN THE BUTT to put together...
It literally took me 20 minutes....

 We started with sparklers....
This photo, I forced him to smile (by screaming...loudly talking..."SMILE MATTIS!!!"

This was his actual face during the entire time the sparkler was lit until it burned out....

We sang and danced to the Koo Koo Kangaroo birthday song (that is permanently stuck in my head all day)
"Hooray, Hooray! It's Mattis' Birthday!"

We did church...

Mattis and his stuffed dog Jake (that Dannika made at Build-A-Bear) for him as a gift.
One month old...
and Today!

We have a family tradition to let our kids pick wherever they want to eat for their birthday!
Mattis wanted Chick Fil A...
But his birthday is on a Sunday this year...
Talk about one disappointed 5 year old.
He settled for Mad Taco instead (which was a better choice for me!)

Then he request a trip to Walgreens (lol) to get a toy.
He chose this gigantic ball called the "Wubble Bubble".
It comes in this little package, and you blow it up to make it big.
He's a simple kid.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MATTIS! You're the coolest kid I know!

1 comment:

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