Our weekly schedule board, a repurposed old frame with chalk board paint on the inside

Our weekly schedule board, a re-purposed old frame with chalk board paint on the inside

Those who know me best know how much I love traditions. Growing up my family had a few, and I relished them wholeheartedly, and even created some of my own. For example, every Christmas Eve I would pitch a tent in my room, smuggle in snacks and drinks, load it with books, a light source, and the hope that this year I would finally see Santa Claus. Now a few things happened: I never did see Santa (huge disappointment for a little girl – but I also understood that’s how things worked), I continued to do so even after I figured out the secret of Santa, AND lastly, but most importantly, I saw how sweet the repeating of traditions could be, even with heartache in the mix.

The military is full of it’s own traditions. And quite honestly, growing up I dreamed of being a soldier myself. My dad was in the Army and I loved living on military bases and traveling. It appealed to me. But of course, my little heart condition prevented that from happening (Big Brooks says he’s glad). Can you all imagine me in the military? I think I would have made an exemplary soldier (I’m just saying!). But it’s the traditions we keep, amidst all the deployments, the training, the schools, the sometimes wacky schedule, that cement us as a family. It doesn’t matter if we’re 1,000 miles from “home” or from those we love, our traditions bind us, make us stronger, and quite frankly are looked forward to. Big Brooks thinks it’s silly when I’ll come up with an idea and quickly, and with exuberance declare (typically with eyes shining and a perma-grin exploded across my face), “NEW TRADITION!” How can it be a tradition, he declares, when it’s yet to be repeated? He doesn’t understand the magic, I think, of creating something new to be shared year after year with those we love. Now of course, I’d understand his sentiment if went declaring every little ol’ thing traditions and then never kept them (but I don’t, so I do).

And so since yesterday was Sunday that meant a few things one of which was that Sunday is our Family Meeting Night. I would never have thought to hold a family meeting. Gosh, it seemed silly to me. Why do that? We’re always together.  I gab all the time. I listen. What more do we need? But then a few months ago we attended a Family Retreat hosted by the Chaplain’s office after moving here to VA. And one of the things they shared families should do is host a family meeting. And so at the retreat we did so. And it became clear to me that A. I don’t listen as well as I think I do (I think I gab too much mayhaps?) B. I don’t always LISTEN (i.e. process the information and retain it). and C. As much gabbing as I usually do I don’t always share with Big Brooks the stuff he needs to know in terms of what happens at home when he’s gone. I think this is deployment related. After five deployments I’ve become incredibly good at parenting alone AND managing the household and crisis that may appear. I became so accustomed to taking care of things myself I forgot my beau is home and he wants to be told these things and wants to know and wants to be part of the process.

On top of that, The Boy loves discussing his feelings so this was a win win for all of us. True story.

Our family meetings consist of reviewing what was said at the last meeting and discussing rules (no wording of complaints in an ugly way, no speaking when someone else has the floor, etc). Then we move into Things We Need to Work On (one by one) and Things We Are Doing Well. Lastly we discuss the upcoming week’s schedule so we all know what’s happening and can discuss any scheduling conflicts either one of us (DBrooks or I) may not be aware of. Little B loves our family meetings. He feels that each part must be done, so even if there are no Things We Need to Work On he’ll mention something we can’t possibly change but which he sorely wishes we had control over. I love the Things We Need to Work on because we are all so positive and supportive that lo and behold the following week whatever it was is typically taken care of. And the Things We Are Doing Well really allows us to lift each other up and see any progress being made.

I sometimes wonder which traditions we hold My Little Boy will take with him to his family some day. And some day I hope to be part of new traditions  he’s created for his family.

Life surely remains sweet.