Sunday, January 2, 2011

Peter Pan and Wendy

One of the most amazing O-Wives (an O-Wife is an officer's wife.  M is the most down to earth woman I've ever met.  She's done back to back deployments and has twins) I’ve "never" met told me about the “Peter Pan” syndrome last year.  I’d never heard of it before and was intrigued.  How it parallels the life my family has been living since Donovan got orders is both amazing and scary:

When a man does a back to back deployment (one after another without the sweet respite that is “dwell time”) they aren’t home long enough to have to be responsible for anything “big” having to do with their family – their wife, mom, or significant other ends up running the show.  Sometimes this ends up happening even while they’re home.  And the soldier ends up liking it, they get used to it.  Life outside of work becomes carefree and all they have to do is take it easy.  

Because of this they end up “living” in an alternate reality – Deployment (Never-neverland) where they get to be a leader or a hero.  They get to fight pirates and Indians and other types of bad guys.  They have no responsibilities, always have other lost boys to play with, go on adventures with, and they NEVER have to grow up.

For the wives, mothers, or significant others left behind to hold the fort, it’s a completely different situation.  

Some end up being “Wendy” – The mature responsible one who ends up taking care of everyone, sort out the issues and desperately try to get Peter to grow up.  Peter doesn’t always like her very much, but she gets it done, ‘cause if she doesn’t, who will?  “Wendy” will even have to suffer a crisis every so often so that Peter can rescue her and make himself feel better.

A few end up being “Nana” – A loyal nurturing pet that’s thought of as part of the family, but ends up doing all the work, taken for granted and left behind.  

And then there’s “Tinkerbelle” – Spiteful, Jealous, Vain, and Perky.  She’s got a bad temper and is a spoiled brat.  She’s usually madly in love with Peter, and Peter thinks she can do no wrong.  He always ends up using her and taking advantage of her until he’s tired of her.  At least “Tinkerbelle” doesn’t stick around very long.

Lately I’ve been feeling like Nana.  Little better than a cherished pet, doing all the work myself, no thanks, no gratitude, and, like the rest of the family, left behind. 

This amazing O-Wife, who has NEVER met me, says that she likes to think that we’re both like Wendy – “tough, strong, independent and don't hesitate to call Peter on his crap!”  But I have the HARDEST time calling Donovan on his crap.  Cause he’s so far away, and it usually dissolves into him being angry with me, and I end up feeling like a jerk for even bringing up issues and suspicions and hurts that now feel unimportant, that feel like the ravings of a “stupid, hysterical, psycho, jealous, piece of crap.”

It’s really hard to remember that I’ve been running our house basically on my own for nearly 2 years.  It’s hard to remember that I’ve run a larger house than this on my own, and that I was a single mom for a long time before I even dreamed there was someone like Donovan out there.

It’s difficult to remember what I’m capable of.  Hopefully I can remember really soon.

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