A woman wearing a cast on her leg on crutches

Adjusting Expectations


There were 15 things on my to-do list today. I accomplished three of them. There is still a mounting pile of dishes in the sink. The broken cookie under the living room chair confirms that vacuuming didn’t happen. Today’s mail is still waiting for me at the post office. I didn’t even get my usual workout in, but I did break a mean sweat just trying to climb the stairs — that counts as cardio, right?

In early November, I broke my fifth metatarsal carrying a large package through the front door while trying to avoid stepping on my daughter. I took my eyes off the threshold to see where she was and lost my footing. Down I went with a jerk and a snap of my right foot, flat onto our front porch, the Christmas present I was carrying landing right on top of me. Too busy to stop, and too stubborn to entertain that my foot might be broken, I “mommed” through it (it is high time we made that a verb). I got up, brought the rest of the mail in, helped my son with his homework and started dinner. It wasn’t until my husband came home that I accepted we might need to swing by urgent care.

It was a week before the Marine Corps Birthday Ball and on the cusp of the holiday season. I had baking to do, long-awaited vacations to take, and I had just challenged myself to run 700 miles by November 1 of 2018 — I’d taken way too much time off from running after moving to Japan, and I was finally ready to get back at it. There was no way I could have a broken foot; it wasn’t in the plan. But, X-rays the next morning confirmed that I did.

For almost 10 years, I’ve been reworking my plans for the military. I’ve rolled with changes in orders and delayed homecomings. I’ve dropped everything to help my kids, my husband or members of our military family. But when I was responsible for a change in plans, I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I spent weeks being downright angry that I was in pain and unable to do even simple things, like hold my daughter’s hand as I walked her to preschool (nearly impossible on crutches — don’t try that at home) or get a glass of water. My anger grew as we moved farther into the holiday season. I look forward to the last two months of the year all year long. We’d planned a Thanksgiving getaway to Kyoto and Osaka. We cancelled it, along with everything from bus trips to squadron events. Worse than just disappointing myself with each cancelled RSVP, I was also disappointing my husband and kids.

I still have five days left in this cast and it stinks (in more ways than one.) I’m still bitter and frustrated. But, my mom engrained in me at an early age that everything happens for a reason. Here are a few of my theories for the reason behind my broken foot:

  1. The lesson wasn’t for me, it was for my kids and husband. They needed to realize firsthand how much I do for them. Now they can appreciate me more. The two flaws in this theory are that my husband was away for the last half of my cast sentence and I’m still picking up after my kids.
  2. I needed to learn to slow down. There’s some potential to this theory. I spend roughly 16 hours a day multitasking and zipping around. The one benefit (as much as it drives me batty to sit still most of the day) is that I’ve had so much time to cuddle, read, play and laugh with my kids. It wasn’t until I was forced to be still that I realized how much I was missing by being in constant motion.
  3. I needed to cut myself some slack. Most moms and military spouses can attest that we bend over backwards for everyone else. We are regularly sleep deprived, hungry, uncomfortable and accepting a change of plans at the hands of everyone else, however disappointing. It’s never for us; it’s always for someone else because that’s the job. But what I learned from this process is that sometimes I will be at the center of the change in plans. I can’t tough out everything. Like I go with the flow and flex for everything else, I must learn to give myself a break.

I’m still mad that we missed our Thanksgiving vacation and that I’m still not running (oh, how me 10 years ago would be baffled at being upset over NOT running), but I’ve finally accepted that this happened. I can’t change it, so there’s no point in being bitter. It’s time to concentrate on healing and make the best of the situation, just like we do with any other circumstances that military life deals us.

Kristi Stolzenberg
Written By Kristi Stolzenberg
Marine Spouse

Kristi started writing for Blog Brigade as a new Milspouse in 2008, and all of a sudden, she’s a seasoned (but not overly salty) Marine spouse.

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