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Quarters Sweet Quarters: Starting Over

In Army life,

In Army life, we (soldiers and families) are taught to adapt and overcome. It's just that simple. When your soldier deploys, you figure out what to do and you do it. When it is time to move, you figure out what to do and you do it. It's just that simple.

Or is it?

My family knows that there comes a point, usually at the end of the move, when "Mama's gonna have a meltdown." I live in a crazy world. It's okay. They know me here. But this time, the meltdown came much sooner than I expected and at a really bad time.

It all began with the phrase, "We are having trouble getting orders." Sweet soldier is being assigned to a brand new unit and there was an issue (that was well above our pay grade) of how to get a lot of the soldiers assigned to that unit. That may seem trivial, but I quit my job to begin getting ready for this move and we don't have orders. No big deal. I file it in my mental rolodex. I figure out what to do and I do it.

We begin to look for a house to rent. We found out where the best schools were and we began to look for rentals there. But finding a rental in a great area of town that will accommodate two adults, three kids and a 75-pound dog is almost impossible. We decided to buy. We have not owned a home since 2009 and I'm more than a little nervous. I file it in my mental rolodex. I figure out what to do, and I do it.

Packers come and I try not to stand over them. They are trained and paid to pack and my job is to be organized, stay out of the way and be available for questions. But when I hear one of the packers yell (about the packer in the kitchen), "I'm so glad she's packing the kitchen. Usually the new girl is afraid of glass," I file it in my mental rolodex. I figure out what to do and I do it.

Sweet soldier took sweet girl and left to go close on the house and get ready to receive household goods. Then our household goods shipment was split, a table was broken, I wrecked my truck and the dog got into a fight at doggie daycare. I file it in my mental rolodex. I figure out what to do and I do it.

I pick up a rental vehicle that is half the size of my truck and they tell me that they absolutely have nothing bigger and they have a "no pet policy" in their cars. I file it in my mental rolodex. I figure out what to do and I do it.

I'm excited to say, at this point, the house inspections and closing went smoothly as did the first delivery of our household goods. That was a much needed boost. My mental rolodex had gotten pretty full, and it needed some relief.

Now, have you ever seen a rolodex lose all its cards when it spins? I have. And that's what happened to me.

Some good friends recommended a karate/mixed martial arts dojo where our entire family could train, so we decided to check it out. It is a great place with a very caring and focused staff, and they have an all-day camp for all of my kids for the entire month of July! Where do I sign up?

So to begin, the kids took an introductory class. This class is made up of two lessons. The first night, they learn some basic punches and kicks and they learn how to stand and greet the instructor. The second night they are tested on what they learned the first night, and at the end, they receive their white belts to begin their karate career and they get to break a board. Sweet boy and sweet girl have participated in martial arts before, so this was a refresher for them. Little sweet boy has never done this before and I held my breath to see how this was all going to go.

If you don't remember, little sweet boy is on the autism spectrum. He is very high functioning, but having been out of a structured environment for a month, he has regressed a bit. I'm okay with that, because once we get back into a routine, some of his behaviors will subside. But we have lived in Kansas for two and a half years, and it has been a while since I have had to start something new with him. The staff at our new karate place was very welcoming and embraced the challenge of working with little sweet boy. All of that being said, let's get back to the story.

All three kids went to have their first lesson. I was really proud of them all. The older two fell right back into the martial arts routine with no problem. Little sweet boy struggled a little with standing still and the sharp body movements, but he still did well. He finished the class and declared, "I did my best!" As his mom, that's all I can require.

Then it became time for sweet soldier and I to have our MMA class. It was the same principle as the kids' class. Learn a few things the first night. The second night, test and receive your white belt. We learned some basic punches, a take-down and escape. I confess, I haven't had to learn something quickly in a long time, so it was a struggle to keep up. But I knew that once I started classes on a regular basis, that piece would come back. We finished the class tired but feeling good, and all of us have our second class two nights later.

So the day comes for all of us to test. That day I had spent most of the afternoon on my laptop, which I had forgotten was set to central time, and we are on eastern time. Before I know it, it is time to go. No one has had dinner and we rushed out the door.

We get to the dojo, and the kids' class begins on time, but little sweet boy began to struggle. He needed more reminders to perform the basic functions he had been taught.

Finally, he gave up, and I felt my mental rolodex begin to spin. He began to cry silently with huge tears and that usually means that he's afraid. I felt my mental rolodex begin to spin faster. I asked him what was wrong and he couldn't tell me, and that's when the cards began to fly out of my mental rolodex. I hugged him super tight and we cried a little bit together. We pulled it together enough to go into the class and watch sweet boy and sweet girl receive their belts and break their boards.

What happened next really surprised me.

When sweet boy and sweet girl finished their class, we signed them up to become students and they were given a bag with their uniform and gloves in it. Little sweet boy looked at me and said, "Where's my bag?" It hurt my heart, but I said, "You chose not to test, so you will not get a bag tonight. When we can come back and test and earn your belt, then you will get a bag." Let me go on record now as saying I hate teachable moments.

As we go over this conversation several times, as you do when you have an autistic child, one of the instructors comes and sits down next to me and tells us that he will be glad to test little sweet boy once our adult class is over. We did! He passed and he even broke his board!

But let's step back for a moment and talk about my mental rolodex. When I felt it spin and I realized the cards were flying out and I was at risk of coming completely unhinged, I realized that I was tired of fighting. When I began to learn ways to combat a person trying to overtake me, I realized that I had been feeling like I was fighting with everyone including myself, either physically or mentally. Mostly, I was fighting to feel like I was staying afloat. I fight to get things accomplished on time. I fight to keep my little sweet boy on the right path. I fight to raise good adults. And I fight to make my marriage work.

What I realized was that I wanted was some calm and some peace. MMA may not be for me right now, but I am not completely closing that door. Right now what I need is the calm of a good solid run and the peace of some yoga. Once life settles down a little bit, maybe my inner fighter will emerge once again but for now, I will pick the rolodex cards up off the floor, throw them in the trash and begin again.

One more thing. Thank you to the amazing staff at Seigler's Karate and MMA! Mr. Hobbs, Mr. Waters and Ms. Waters, you are all amazing. Thank you for your patience and understanding, and Team Young is ready to fight the good fight!

May the moving gods smile upon you and may only the things that you don't like get broken ... sby

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