One of my favorite short stories is Kafka's Metamorphosis, where Gregor Samsa wakes up as a gigantic insect and has to deal with his new found identity. I like this story because it deals with change, something that I have experienced many times since joining the ranks of military spouse and mother.
A couple of nights ago my oldest daughter Luisa, age 5, came into our bedroom at 3:00am in the morning my husband was deployed so no chance of asking him for help - and said: Mommy there is a scorpion in the bathroom. I quickly replied: No sweetie, mommy is tired go back to bed
She yelled again No! Mommy there is a scorpion in the bathroom. I said!! and jumped around impatiently.
I got up and quickly walked back with her explaining that there was no scorpion in the house, and that mommy needed to sleep at night. But just as I began my lecture, I saw the big scorpion. If this happened a few years ago, I would have been paralyzed with fear at the mere sight of ants, let alone a scorpion.
Growing up in Rome, Italy, I never encountered bugs except for mosquitoes and tiny black ants my mom found under our kitchen sink, and quickly destroyed with lots of bug spray. When I lived in Manhattan for several years, I continued to be terrified of insects, especially roaches. As a good Wall Street business woman, I relied on others to take care of the problem (I did always give good instructions), pest control companies which would come at New York City speed whenever called, friends, co-workers and at last resort, all manner of products with dead bugs on the label.
When I got married, I thought that I had gained full-time, live-in protection from bugs. Ha. Naturally, the bugs sensed when my husband was gone which is often given his job, so I had to learn to deal on my own. There were times, as in the middle of the night, or when we first got somewhere and I didn't know anybody, when no one could come and help, not even my best friend who grew up on a farm and could squish very large bugs with her bare hands (I actually never saw her do it but give her the benefit of the doubt). Becoming a mother also made it imperative that I led my children by example not so much with words yes, the ever excruciating challenge of the parent who is hoping the child will not see the fear but overcome the task at hand with ease.
That night I got a beer mug and a plate, covered the intruder and, brought it in the kitchen where it remained until the next day, when I threw it outside. I did not set out to have a bug metamorphosis; in fact, I often told my husband that I would never get used to the bugs, I was too much of a city girl. But, after a few years of long deployments, during which I had to be in charge of everything including the bug situation, I changed. My sister, who continues to be terrified of insects, asked me how I overcame my fear. I told her that I didn't consciously work on it but the military lifestyle provided me with lots of opportunities to grow .
As military spouses and mothers, whether we are dealing with bugs or with any fear we have plenty of opportunities for our own metamorphoses. It is up to us to make it for the best.
Anita is a free-lance writer and columnist. Her column "Out of the Blue" appears in several newspapers across the country. Anita is currently working on a non-fiction book and maintains a web-site http://www.anitadoberman.com. She is married to an Air Force pilot and they have five children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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