Today I appeared on the WCAX morning news. It was just a quick interview with news anchor Molly Smith about the articles that I am writing here. In the clip above, I appear pretty calm. But the moments before the interview were anything but.
When I told my boys about the upcoming interview last week, they were only semi-impressed. When I told them they could come along and see the news "in action," they reacted with shoulder slumps and a vague "sure." I had kind of hoped being on TV would earn me some "cool-mom points," but that plan was sure backfiring.
In order to get to the early-morning interview on time, I had to rouse the boys up at 4:45 a.m. This is an early wake-up call, to be sure, but I had sent them to bed early last night, hoping to take the edge off. Not so much. As we began to get ready, it was clear they were not happy. They had changed their minds; no one wanted to go. It was too late to let them stay home, however. There would be no one to watch them — my parental backup happens to be across the ocean.
I wasn't really sure what all the fuss was about. I was the one who was supposed to be nervous. What was the problem? Why couldn't they be happy for me? And then the truth spilled out of the mouth of a sobbing little boy.
"Why does everything in our life have to be about this stupid deployment?!"
Ah. There it was. All at once, I realized that while we have been trying to go through each day as normally as we can, there is nothing normal about our lives at all. Our minds can pass the time and maybe even forget for a moment that Matt is deployed, but our hearts are in a constant state of ache and worry. Yes, even the kids internalize what war means to them.
By the time we arrived for the interview, the boys had calmed down and were happy to sit quietly and watch the interview from the sidelines. They oohed and ahhed over the remote-control cameras and fancy recording equipment. I asked how they thought my interview went and, again — shrug, "fine." But the whole ride home was filled with talk of video cameras and green screens and how the news works.
I'm thankful for the chance to get the word out about these articles. Going on the news was a fun and exciting adventure for me. Even if it was just "fine" for the boys, it gave them something new to think about for a few minutes. Sure, everything in our lives is about Matt's deployment right now, but sometimes it can give way for some really neat opportunities. The boys realized that their brave mom had just been on the news talking about their even braver dad — and just like that my "cool points" skyrocketed. If only for a moment.
Tasha Lehman is a mother of three boys living in Vermont. Her husband, Matt, is a first lieutenant in the Vermont Air National Guard who recently headed overseas for his first deployment. The “Home Front: Diaries of a Vermont military family” series chronicles their journey. Read more about their story in February’s “Use Your Words” essay.