26: Safely Stuck in a Rut

26: Safely Stuck in a Rut

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

Safely Stuck in a Rut

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

~Anatole France

I’m not afraid to admit it; I am absolutely terrified of losing my rut. People talk about being stuck in a rut as if it’s a bad thing, but I don’t see it that way. A rut is safe. A rut is a straight line. A rut allows you to see where you’re supposed to be going. The future is laid out in front of you and you can reasonably assume that if you follow your rut, it will take you to the end of the road. It’s predictable. It’s comfortable. It’s safe. I’m about to lose my rut whether I’m ready for it or not and I am absolutely terrified.

For the last five and a half years, I have been an aircraft mechanic in the United States Air Force. Before that I was a CNC machinist in a fabrication plant. Before that I was a box office cashier at my local movie theater. And before all of that, I was a fifteen-year-old kid who wanted to become a writer, but also knew that I was going to have to get a REAL job if I wanted to earn a decent income.

My point is that I have never before been unemployed for any considerable length of time, but in five months that is exactly the position that I will find myself in. My safe, comfortable rut is going to disappear.

To be fair, I am losing my rut for a good cause. Seven months ago, my husband and I became the proud owners of a positive pregnancy test. Or rather, he was the proud one and I was the absolutely terrified recipient of unexpected news. Even before we sat down and discussed what needed discussing and made our decisions about the future, I knew that my predictable, steady, SAFE rut was disappearing.

We decided together that with a new baby joining our little family it wouldn’t be feasible to continue with the military lifestyle. There is no law or regulation telling me that I cannot be a military mom. There are thousands of women out there who can pull it off and they have my respect. But the truth is that we do live a hard lifestyle. My husband and I belong to a particularly vigorous unit that has been in a constant deployment rotation since 2001 and the tempo has never slowed down. During our first year of marriage, we were separated by our mutual deployment obligations for longer than we were actually together. It was hard, but we managed to get through it. We knew the risks and pitfalls before we got married.

But now we are having a baby. According to regulation, a mother is not allowed to deploy for the first four months after having her baby. But after that, if the mission requires it, she must go. The chances of it happening are slim, even in our chaotic, deployment-happy unit, but the thought of leaving a four-month-old baby behind is too awful for me to take the risk. Mike and I are tough enough to get through the separations, but our baby shouldn’t have to be tough. So I made the decision to part ways with my rut.

I haven’t decided which makes me feel more selfish, deciding that I need to stay home with the baby, or being terrified by abandoning my self-sufficiency. My husband is completely supportive of me becoming a stay-at-home mom, but I can’t help feeling that I’m no longer going to be carrying my weight in this family. I have always had an income.

Twenty-four weeks into this venture, we learned that we were having a boy. It is easier to work for a cause when it has a name. My new cause is going to be named Theodore.

Instead of being anxious about the future, I’m going to embrace it. I’ve been saying for as long as I can remember that when I grow up, I’m going to be a writer. It is difficult to be a writer when you’re stuck in a rut, even if it is a rut that you’re content with. When I joined the Air Force I thought I would make a career of it. Now I’m trading in that safety net for the sake of a little guy I haven’t even met yet.

Today, my husband and I arrived at the clinic for an ultrasound and I saw Theo’s face for the first time. Or at least, I could have if I wasn’t crying so much.

The good news is that it’s a different sort of crying than I did when I was away from my husband for so long. This time I’m scared, but happy.

~Tanya Rusheon

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