One year ago
I faced being without my husband of only a few months for an extended period of time. I knew that even when we reunited during mid-tour leave, the time would be brief and focused on the addition to our family. I thought about the possibilities and dangers, contemplating how I would manage alone if a 15-month tour became a lifetime.
We didn’t yet know if our new addition was a boy or a girl. We waited with anticipation for the sonogram appointment, sharing the excitement though worlds apart.
My parents arrived on the day Peter deployed. We had such a great time exploring beautiful Colorado. We went to the Royal Gorge, Garden of the Gods, and rode the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak (though my father still questions if he was there since there was a blizzard at the top with no visibility and below zero chill factors). My dad looked around the North Pole while my mother and I explored the amazing gift shop. As they left, the first big snow of the season started (at 6,000 feet versus the 14,000+ feet of Pikes Peak). The weather seemed to reflect my own emotions.
We were struggling from paycheck to paycheck. Things were more than tight and we relied on our families’ help on more than one occasion. We pulled through it though, in spite of the “bad economy” and “recession” the media says we are in now. We are so thankful for and blessed by our families. Our debt of gratitude and love will never be repaid, but we will still make more than a minimum payment at any opportunity.
I had many insecurities about being a new mom and an army wife with a deployed husband. I felt conflicted most days, about how I “should feel” and how I really felt. Every decision seemed like climbing Pikes Peak, without the aid of the Cog Railway. I felt alone all the time and incapable most of the time.
I am looking forward to a happy, long-term reunion with Peter. I can say, “month after next” when asked about his return. I know that he is fairly safe in his job and his present location. I can rest because I know he has some great guys looking out for him there and I know he is doing the same for them.
I am blessed by our baby boy, Dietrich Thomas Caswell, on a daily basis. I still have to share exciting things from worlds apart. I see so much of Peter when Dietrich smiles and laughs. I can hardly wait to be a family together again.
I am staying with family for the holidays. My parents love having Dietrich and me around all the time. In a few weeks, we will spend some time with Peter’s family as well, before heading back to Colorado. I told several people when we left that we were “flying south for the winter”. This past week hasn’t proven to be much of an improvement, except that we aren’t snowed in as we could be there.
We are financially secure, with fewer lingering debts. If only we could get the Army to start paying back Peter’s loans like they agreed to do when he signed his contract. Perhaps that’s a rant for another time.
I occasionally still feel insecure in my abilities as a mom. These feelings are strongest at the end of a long day when Dietrich hasn’t felt well and has been extremely fussy. I am learning not to take his difficult days personally, knowing and doing are two very different things.
I do not know what the next year will bring. Each day with my family is a gift and an adventure. We hope to find a bigger space than our current apartment with the same convenience to Ft. Carson. We plan to do a bit of “spring cleaning” and buy some furniture of our own and phase out some of the “hand-me-downs” or “acquisitions” of the past.
To answer the burning and nosey question many of you no doubt have asked, will ask, want to ask, are embarrassed to ask, or simply feel you are entitled to know: at the present time a new Caswell is not in the plan for the next year. We want to enjoy our time together and with Dietrich for a while. We hope to get more involved in church, looking for new opportunities to serve. However, as wonderful as each of these aspects of the future may be, I am mainly just looking forward to having my husband home safe and sound, watching him be a father to his son.