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My House is a War Zone


By Melissa Baumann


My house is a war zone. On any given day my boys will be conducting special ops warfare that will result in an explosion. Thereís sibling warfare - mostly constitutional skirmishes. Iíve ruled on issues of privacy: yes, you do have to knock before barging into your brotherís room to dump cold water on his head. No, I donít care if that ruins the surprise. Freedom of the Press: you wrote what on your brotherís notebook?! The Right to Keep and Bear Arms: I understand you need all these rolled up socks for your munitions supply, but you need to wear socks in the winter. Period.

Iíve experienced Germ Warfare; coughing on your table neighborís food, sneezing in your brotherís direction, licking all the cookies and then putting them back. Iíve witnessed Psychological Warfare; which is all about making someone believe that youíve used his toothbrush to swab the toilet.

Being that I am Mom Capitan in this little battleship, and admittedly ready for anything, I shouldnít have been a bit surprised when my husband dropped a verbal bombshell into our living room. In 96 hours, heíll be in the Middle East War Zone. I was hit with a stinging realization Ė ďAww, crap. Iím married to a Navy guy.Ē It wasnít a real secret or anything, I mean the uniform, dismal pay, and horrifyingly long hours were kind of a giveaway. Itís just that during the last year, in the alternate reality that is military family life, Iíd come to look upon my future as bordering on idyllic.

In our decade-plus marriage weíve survived deployments (man never home), job combined with War College at night (man home long enough to sleep and shower), overseas tour (man moves us to unrecognizable home), and job combined with Masterís program (man home for showers, sleeping during class). Clearly, weíve done harder stuff for longer periods. The thing is, that was a different guy. The guy theyíre sending to the Gulf is a man who escaped the Pentagon on 9/11. Since that horrible day heís read intelligence reports that gave him nightmares, seen photos that made him want to gouge his eyes out and endured endless limb checks from a nervous son who canít forget where daddy was that day. The guy that ran home that night was a newly minted dad and husband. One compass point away from death, he became a guy who suddenly wanted to live for more than his job.

The guy theyíre sending to the desert has spent the last year reading fewer late night reports and more bedtime stories. Less time catching up on email and more time catching fly balls with his sons.

The irony here is that the man loves the sea but hates the sand. Heíd rather lick Hampton Boulevard than go to the beach. So, even without the bugs and the bombs, this would be a less than ideal situation.

Still, I feel sorriest for our sons. Theyíll have to come to me with their math homework, so their grades are headed for the toilet. Theyíd have better luck stopping a dog on the street and having him bark the answer ĖIím just that bad. Iíll have to assume the driving instruction of our eldest and I know thereís not enough Maalox in the city to help me survive that nerve-wracking experience. Iíll have to take over tending the yard, which means my annual ďdeath to all growing thingsĒ campaign will have to start early this year. Since my husband is leaving in less than a week, Iíve got a short amount of time to get up to speed on some important issues. I must learn vehicle maintenance, tool identification and the Zen Master approach to the breakfast smoothie. Only when we have achieved balance, between the banana and the strawberry, will the puree be perfect.

Some things just wonít get done. Our eldest son must be driven to Crew practice at 5AM. At 5AM Iím sleeping like Iíve been chloroformed. Iím going to have to beg, borrow and bake my way into a good carpool or invest in some smelling salts. I just pray someone else out there is a sucker for brownies.

By the time my husband comes back I will have written a dozen notes in lip pencil because I canít find a lead version, convinced the kids that Dawn dishwashing soap is perfectly acceptable bubble bath and tricked them into believing that they have to eat their vegetables because right now, dadís eating dirt.

Hopefully, weíll look back on all of this and have a good laugh. Because, after that, Iím going to have a really good cry.

Copyright Melissa Baumann - Used by Permission

* * * * *

"Melissa Baumann is a freelance writer living in Chesapeake, Virginia. She was honored with an award in the humor category from National Society of Newspaper Columnists at their 2004 Convention in New Orleans. This is her Award Winning column, first published in the Navy Times.


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