“Let me just tell you.” I got closer to the camera. “The wife and mother you left at the beginning of this deployment is very different from the wife and mother you will come home to.”

I remember vividly, standing at the beginning. Wondering how I would get through all the inevitable challenges and Crosses that would befall us while he was gone. Wondering if I was truly as strong as everyone was saying. Wondering if I would break.

I haven’t broken. Not yet.

I’ve grown. Stretched, which is a painful process, but rewarding afterwards. During the moments, either through chance or choice, that I felt like my entire body and soul were being pulled and stretched in ways unimaginable, I honestly didn’t know how I would come out on the other side. Bitter or victorious? Angry or relieved?

This deployment–this war–is filled with smaller battles that Elizabeth and I have endured together. Scary battles, annoying battles, personal battles. But, despite doubting myself at the start of each, I came through each a stronger and more flexible person. I’ve learned so much about myself. Realized how much truly I can endure. More than I had thought. And we are still here, still fighting.

I am stubborn.

And so, this last week, when we tackled potty training amidst fluctuating pregnancy hormones and a very confused toddler, I didn’t know if we were going to pull it off. Tuesday night, I was ready to pack it in. Raise that white flag.

“Give it one more day, Adrienne.” My far-off battle buddy encouraged me. She must know what she’s doing. She’s gotten three children out of diapers.

And we did it. Laugh if you want. But moments like that–hard-fought battles that we win–are the very moments that make me realize I can survive the last six months. That I can endure the remaining battles, whatever they maybe. I will make it through giving birth alone, through the first six weeks with a newborn and toddler. And we will come out the other side stronger, better, victorious.

So, I move forward. Maybe a little tired now, maybe a little weary. But, I move forward. Battles will be won, the war will end. And we will come out of the other side victorious.

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