Welcome to FOB ‘Livia. A FOB is a Forward Operating Base in the military. It is usually a standalone installation far away from the main fuss of the military in foreign countries of which we are warring. You are alone, separated from regular necessities, and usually living in squalor or at least doing the best you can with what you have. You are surrounded by enemy at all times, constantly being observed, and on top of that, while being out on your own, still hamstrung by the tentacles of your unit’s leaders who are safely tucked far away from the battlefield.
I am not sure how Stay-at-Home moms perceive their lives at home with their children. Men and women have different thought processes. For me, being at home is the equivalent of being at the FOB. I am the ground pounder who has to recon the enemy, identify what missions need to be done, how to do them, and when they need to be accomplished. Then I have to go do those missions. Olivia is higher command. Nothing happens without the approval of higher. Mission success is only determined by higher.
Being in the military and being a dad are awfully similar I have found. Now that Liv is taking naps in her crib for a couple hours each morning, I find that I can now have a dedicated workout time. And, like being at the FOB, I use what I’ve got in order to do my workout. I got a bike, some resistance bands, and a shooting mat in order to do ground workouts. It ain’t much, but it gets the job done. Sometimes you don’t know how long you’ve got to workout. Some days she sleeps for three hours. Other days it may only be 45 minutes. You have to be ready at a moment’s notice to end that workout and get ready to go, once you hear the call through the baby monitor. That’s the thing about babies. You don’t know when, you don’t know how, you don’t know where. But they are going to cry. And you have to be ready for it.
Being at the FOB can get boring. Sometimes you just want to be able to get out and do something. But you must never leave the wire without Higher’s permission. Want to go down to the bazaar? Clear it with Higher. Want to go blow up a cache? Got to clear it with Higher. Want to go help out a police station that is being overrun by bad dudes? You got it, clear it with Higher. Well, when you are home all day and have finally had enough and feel you just got to get out, things aren’t necessarily any easier. Want to go to the grocery store? Clear it with Higher. If she isn’t in the mood to go out, she will let you know. Want to go grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks? Better make sure Higher is awake for that one. Want to go for a walk on the trail? Better check Higher, see what they say. May not have pooped yet, and you do not want to clean up poop on the trail. Bad enough you already got to clean up the dog’s poop.
However, on the offchance that Higher grants you permission to leave the wire, you have to come up with a plan. You have to give baby the warning order (warno). “Hey sweety, in about 20 minutes we are going to head out, ok?” That gives baby enough prep time to realize she is leaving the house, so you better finish watching that episode of Sofia the First. Then, after you turn off the TV, you give her the Operations Order. You find yourself telling her this out loud, even though she has no idea what you are talking about, and probably isn’t even really listening (just like half the guys at your firebase who just determine they will figure it out as they go along). “Hey sweety, we are going to head over to Home Depot. We have to get some screening because the cats cut a hole in the screen door. Then we have to go to Petsmart to get more food for the pets. While we are there, we may look at the kittens up for adoption. However, we will not be bring them home with us. Logistically we just can’t handle any more animals in our house. After Petsmart we will drive down to Babies R Us to get YOU more food, diapers, and anything else I can remember at the time. Upon completion of these objectives, we will rendezvous back at this point, our house, and I will feed you. Ok?” She will stare at you blankly. As per usual, Higher doesn’t actually care about what you are doing.
After this, you will have to go through your Pre-Combat Inspections (PCIs). Does baby have the correct uniform on? Fresh diaper-check. Shoes and socks-check. Clean onesie-check. Does baby have the correct stuffed animal? Tiger? Bunny? Bear? Depends on the situation. Some trips call for the tiger. Other trips call for the bunny. It’s usually a last minute decision. Just make sure once she gets it she doesn’t lose it. Don’t need to report back to mommy when she gets home that you’ve lost a sensitive stuffed animal. Now time for the diaper bag. It may only be a short trip, but you never know how long it can end up being. Have to plan for the unexpected. Enough extra diapers-check. Wipes and powder-check. Fresh set of clothes-check. Food. Now food you better have a PACE plan for. Primary-pouched puree. Alternate-crunchies. Contingency-yogurt melts. Emergency-fruit snacks. Then you must have water in there. Got to keep that kid hydrated. Also, when water just isn’t good enough, have to have those electrolytes with some juice-check. Tissues-check. Pacifier-check. Extra pacifier-check. Now you. Keys-check. Wallet-check. Phone-check. Totally stoked to finally be leaving the house this week-check.
Now, you have gone through your WARNO. Done your OPORD. Did your PCIs. You are ready to rock and roll. You get her in the carseat. You have your phone plugged in and found your favorite Mission Kickoff Soundtrack (mine was always Monster Magnet, Spacelord). You start the car. Garage door goes up. You can see outside the wire. Finally, you’re gonna go get some. You start to put the car in reverse. And then, the inevitable happens. Higher contacts you. You can smell it in the air. Mission is scrubbed. Can’t leave the wire today, gotta change that diaper. And by the time you change that diaper she’s ready for lunch. And once you get lunch going, that’s it. You’re plan is screwed. Everything has changed. Maybe it’s for the best. You don’t really know what was waiting for you down at Home Depot. Maybe there was a tantrum the size of which you’ve never seen before just waiting to go off. Perhaps you avoided epic disaster where no one from the team comes back like they left. But we will have to wait until tomorrow to find out. Because after lunch is nap time. And after nap time Pardon the Interruption is on, and well, laziness is the real enemy here.