One of our fellow humorists was honored with an award in the humor category from National Society of Newspaper Columnists at their 2004 Convention in New Orleans. Here's her Award Winning column, first published in the Navy Times. Congratulations Melissa!
My House is a War Zone
By Melissa Baumann
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Ė Iím 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.
weíll look back on all of this and have a good laugh.
Because, after that, Iím going to have a really good cry.
Copyright 2004 Melissa Baumann - Used by Permission
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"Melissa Baumann is a freelance writer living in Chesapeake, Virginia. For more information about joining the National Society of Newspaper Columnists as well as the 2005 contest, email her at [email protected]"
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