March 29, 2012

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare [peace] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” 
~Jeremiah 29:11, ESV
Well …. today I am writing about something I have put off for a little while. Months, really.
Some context …. if you don’t know me, which, frankly, if you are here, you probably do, I have no illusions about my popularity …. I used to fly helicopters. 
I love to fly. It’s in my blood, my soul …. I will never have the words to recreate the feeling of the earth dropping away below me …. blue sky ahead (or snow, whatever:) or to be zipping along a hundred feet off the ground, or a thousand, or ten thousand, and feel …. home, I guess. 
I joined the Tennessee Army National Guard at 18, for a myriad of (mostly nerdy) reasons, eventually became an officer, and went to flight school in 2004 …. where I met a certain P. Huggins …. and the rest is history …. or at least the beginning of the middle …. 
In 2007, I transferred to the Alaska Army National Guard, learned to fly Blackhawks, left J Girl and deployed to Kosovo ….
That did me in. 
(For more on that, read my very first post on this blog)
What an experience …. good, bad, and ugly. Made friends that will last a lifetime (Shout out to ICY, Pigs in Space, CPT E. and Mrs. F. …. love …. ) 
But I learned that I can’t be a great soldier and a great mommy. 
Let me be very clear. Many women can do both exceptionally. I could not and I believe it affected my work. And truly, at the end, my heart belongs to my babies and this mommy (and that is the ONLY one I am speaking for) had to choose. 
I know that I am supremely blessed to be able to make that choice …. to even have such choices. 
The Lord was very clear upon leaving Alaska that my time as a soldier was done.
So, October 31, 2011, I was a officially a civilian. 
One hundred thousand percent the right decision …. even now, though, tears come. There is  a piece of me I left at a thousand feet. 
I also cried when I threw away my checklist. 
Why am I telling you this now? Why not October? 
I found out my departure date the week of Veteran’s day …. since childhood, a day that carries a lot of emotional weight …. on a crazy road trip to Charlotte, NC …. too sleep deprived and emotional to process it. The next Tuesday, I discovered I was pregnant with Bug. 
You know the rest. 
So today, I was attending a Spouse’s seminar, one in which they start with an exhausting and in-depth explanation of Army acronyms, structure, blah blah, blah …. a life I am intimately familiar with and was for fourteen years. 
Usually I tune out and plan my grocery list/mundane task I need to accomplish. Ummm hello, I could teach this class with my eyes closed, right? Heard it a million times. Lived it. 
Today I could barely hold back the tears. It was my life. Not anymore. Not now, not ever again. 
It’s finally sinking in and I’m so sad …. 
I’m so grateful – for every tear soaked second, every minute spent airborne, the relationships, the views (Mt. McKinley at 10,000 feet on a clear blue day …. yes please!)
I could go on forever …. I’ll finish with these thoughts.
…. Even in the midst of my sadness, I have no regret over leaving–again, it was the right decision for this little family ….
…. I have no regret over my initial decision to join …. I wouldn’t have the amazing-beyond-words husband and littles that I have now. And friends, and memories, and grace …. At no time did I believe I was being disobedient to God’s plan ….
…. I love this country. I will always cry at the National Anthem, be a flag nerd, thank a veteran …. 
…. I will always crane my neck/almost run my car off the road/stop dead in my tracks to catch even the tiniest glimpse of a helicopter in flight …. 
…. So grateful. But a little sad …. and earthbound now. 

P.S. Ughhh. Dumb hard drive. Can’t find any of my awesome flying off into the sunset pictures right now … so here’s one of my other faves, ’cause it’s representing Alaska and my ICY peeps. (Editor’s note: I realize that I am way to old to say peeps …. and I think it’s not even cool anymore. Sigh. Story of my life.)
More about Molly Huggins

I am an unrepentant extrovert with an ongoing, passionate affair with coffee, ellipses, and the written word. I write because it’s how I’m made to worship. I am a story teller, because redemption has a story to tell. And always, I want to be a story collector. So have a virtual seat at my beat-up kitchen table. Read my story. Tell me yours. Stay awhile. And P.S. ... for more about me, click on my mug in the sidebar;)

    1. I enjoyed your post, Molly. I can’t relate to being a pilot, but I suppose I can relate to making sacrifices for my family, and missing what I had to give up, even though I don’t regret it.

      Any chance that you can just fly helicopters recreationally? Or would that somehow violate the agreement that you made with God about it?

    1. Karen – I will jump at any chance to fly recreationally, but it is VERY expensive and the insurance rules are very strict – I don’t really have enough flight time to do something like that. Airplanes are certainly much more conceivable, and I will probably do something
      like that, but it is different. It wasn’t the flying, it was the emotions, and the time away from my littles. Thanks for the response!

    1. Molly, I can totally relate to you….Not in being a helicopter pilot, but for me, what I am missing is being in missions and serving in the Nations. Where we are right now (you “Earthbound” me “America-bound”) is where we need to be. And I pray for both of us that we will be able to remember all our times in these places and with these people with joy and delight and that it would not bring anguish, but joy at what our God has allowed us to do while we were “without babies” 🙂 But I don’t think your flying days are totally over (though it may never be the same as it was) and I don’t think my traveling days are either – just on hold for awhile perhaps 🙂 Perhaps and I think almost definitely we will be able to see our dreams multiplied in the lives of our children as we teach them a love for the air, the sky, and the World 🙂 I love you!!!

    1. love this molly. balancing mama desires is HARD. and…it would have been fun to have you take the AM BS mama’s for a heli ride!…maybe that could still work before you go?!? ;).

    1. I have walked in those shoes! I have felt that pull. I made the same choice…eventually. I still look, a small part still longs but my true heart is with my children.

    1. I’m not a mom, but I understand the longing to fly… I have been an aircraft, flying enthusiast since my early teens at least, and I know it will never stop. But I never got the chance to fly myself. I may someday. Certainly not giving up on my dream. But circumstances and God have told me that even if I never get to pilot a plane or helicopter myself, it’s okay. I still have the love of flight and am fortunate enough to get to take a flight at least once a year. And I am so exactly the same as you in the way I will stop WHATEVER I am doing to watch a plane or helicopter in the sky, or even just sitting on the ground… Lol.

      Honestly, so proud of you for serving our country in such an awesome way! It’s not often you meet a female helicopter pilot/soldier. (Actually, you are the first!) 🙂

      1. I will pray for you to get the chance. It is without words. Thanks for your kind words.

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