My First Attempt as The Happy Housewife

Do not read this until you have read the entire story.

Needless to say I did not arrive in Panama with the best attitude. It was not what I expected and I did not handle the disappointment very well. I soon found out that there were no jobs available and that the college was over 2 hours away on the other side of the country. (Remember the days before online classes?) I set out on my first attempt as The Happy Housewife.

The problem was, I didn’t know how to be a housewife. When I first arrived in Panama, our house was furnished with loaner furniture from the Army. Those of you who have lived with loaner furniture know what I am talking about. Our bed consisted of a mattress on the floor, 2 flat sheets and one pillow each. We had a couch, a table, and a few dishes. I tried to make do with the situation knowing our furniture would arrive soon, but it was very lonely all day in a nearly empty house while dh worked crazy shift hours.

I tried ironing his uniforms while he was at work, except I didn’t know how to iron. During one attempt I actually broke the VCR (a loaner) while trying to iron. How can you break a VCR while ironing, I am not sure, but somehow I flipped the iron off the ironing board and it soared through the air landing on the cord to the VCR, burning through the cord as well as pulling the VCR off the television onto the floor. The young broke newlyweds now had to buy someone a new VCR.

I tried cooking, but I didn’t know how to make anything. Our dinners consisted of fettucini alfredo, hot dogs, and frozen pizza. All other meals were cereal. I was too afraid to go to the grocery store by myself (plus I didn’t have a car) so our trips would involve dh and I walking cluelessly through the aisles, with our ration cards (remember those) and always ending up with the exactly same things in our cart. Hot dogs, noodles, Parmesan cheese, and 17 boxes of Lucky Charms. During Thanksgiving I tried to make food for the sailors and soldiers, but ended up spray painting the walls with potatoes and eating raw turkey for dinner. I was such a bad cook I didn’t realize our oven was broken for over 2 months!

When we found out of furniture had arrived I was so excited. I could finally decorate, rearrange and start playing house. Except (and I am not exaggerating) every piece of furniture we owned had been damaged by the movers. It was terrible. I was in tears as box after box was unloaded and I was pulling out our dented, scratched, and broken possessions. The legs had been broken off our chairs, huge rips covered the back of our couch, and our dining room table had warped so badly you almost couldn’t set anything on top of it without it sliding off.

I tried to bury my frustration on our now house full of broken stuff by painting. I had this brilliant idea to paint our entire downstairs bubble gum pink. I knew that regular painting wouldn’t look right so I decided to sponge paint. After about 3 and a half walls I decided the sponge painting was just too hard so I gave up. The rest of our time there was spent in a house with partially painted pink walls. Dh said he felt like he was living inside a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

As for dh and I, and I am sure this will shock you, we couldn’t spend five minutes together without arguing. I found out quickly that marrying someone you don’t know at all, may not be such a good idea. He worked all the time and I was bored, scared, alone, and resentful of the situation. When he would come home from work I would be dying for someone to talk to and he would be dying to go to sleep. Since he works rotating shifts much of his sleep time was during the day while I was awake. I would usually let him sleep for two or three hours and then wake him up because I was so bored. Needless to say he wasn’t very happy with this habit of mine.

After a few weeks I found out there was a library on base so dh took me and I checked out every book I could. I have always been an avid reader and I was actually excited to have something to do with my time. The only problem was that I started to read Tom Clancy novels. They always seemed to be set in a third world jungle somewhere and I couldn’t help but relate these to my life. I would read all night and then lay in bed petrified that undercover agents or bad guys would come crashing through my door to kidnap me. I stopped sleeping.

One night as I lay in bed alone (dh was at work) I was trying not to think of everything bad that could happen to me. Just as I had calmed myself down I heard the doorknob turn on the front door. I completely panicked. I knew I was going to be kidnapped or killed. I tried to think of a plan, but I couldn’t even move. I laid there paralyzed in fear as I heard men’s voices in my downstairs. Then I heard footsteps coming up the stairs towards my room. I braced myself for what would happen to me… the door swung open, and standing there was dh, covered from head to toe in mud, uniform ripped, and looking quite upset. Not nearly as upset as I was since I thought he was there to kill me.

Turns out our car had broken down on the road to his work. This road was notoriously dangerous and dh was not too happy that he was stuck. He decided the best course of action would be to run the rest of the way to work and hope that someone passed him and offered help. Not only was the road dangerous it was in the middle of the jungle so there were all sorts of animals hiding in the dark as well. During his run for help dh fell into a huge pothole and ruined his uniform, became bathed in mud and bloodied his knees. Finally he was picked up by another sailor who drove him back home to get a clean uniform and return to work.

Except there were no clean uniforms. Remember my outside washer and dryer, I wasn’t kidding when I said I wasn’t going to use them. Laundry at our house would pile up until dh ran out of clothes and decided to wash something. So dh and his friend had to wait while he did a load of laundry in order to have a clean uniform to wear to work for the rest of the night. Dh was not happy, and I was not happy that he had scared me to death and ruined a nice uniform.

Unhappiness was a theme over the next few months. I found out that dh and I were complete opposites and not the kind that attract. We fought and bickered over everything from housework to food to music. It was a strange feeling because I was truly growing to dislike dh with all my heart and yet I would wait anxiously for him to return home from work so I could have someone to talk to. Even fighting was better than silence and our fights were anything but silent. I soon found out that dh had a temper like none I had ever seen and I was not one to back down from a fight and certainly not lose one. I remember screaming matches so terrible that dh would actually lose his voice. I would lock myself in the bathroom and cry for hours.

I tried to plot my escape but I didn’t know what to do. No one back in the states seemed to understand how bad it was and I didn’t have any place to go. No friends, no family, I was truly alone. The stress was more than I could take, and one day while taking a shower I started to feel faint and almost passed out. Dh took me the doctor and I that is when we learned I was pregnant….

Yes folks, another cliff hanger. I will try to have another installment next week. Until then, I have compiled all the installments and created a separate page for them. So if you would like to read Our Story in its entirety (or at least what I have written so far)  you can click on Our Story at the top of my header.

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  1. I’ve heard about Army loaner future. My daughter in law spent the first four months of her pregnancy in post housing at Ft. Leonard Wood, a far cry from her vibrant roots in Atlanta. They slept on two twin beds pushed together, and she spent many days sitting in the little back yard dealing with morning sickness. Not pleasant memories.

  2. I’m glad your story is back! Can’t wait to read more! =)

  3. What a great installment. I just can’t wait to see what happens next! I remember our first meals as Army newlyweds consisted of microwavable Raviolis, Lance crackers w/ cheese, Hi-C fruit punch boxes and Quaker Oats Dinosaur instant oatmeal. I think these things were always on sale at the commissary! I can’t eat any of those things without thinking back to those days 11 years ago!

    Shannon C

  4. Oh my! I am dying to hear about how the transformation took place from sparing newlyweds to happily married parents of 7! Can’t wait to hear more of the story. I’m loving this!

  5. I love reading these stories and can’t wait for the next installment. Leene

  6. Thanks so much for sharing another installment with us I love these story’s of yours. I was in a bad mood this morning but your story made me smile, THANKS!!

  7. Oh my good gravy!!! You didn’t know your husband, you screamed at each other all the time, you’re in a place that’s icky, you’re scared and alone…..

    …. and now you’re pregnant.

    Holy cow. You NEED to put this into a publishable memoir or something. This story is AWESOME. And considering you call this man “DH”, I’m presuming it all works out ok.. =)

  8. Wow! What an awesome installment! I was waiting for another one. I was so thrilled to click on your blog and see that it was! I love your story. Thank you so much for sharing with us and I will be anxiously awaiting the rest.
    God bless,

  9. im so glad you added to your life story! ive been anxiously waiting for the next part! reading it, especially the 1 you just posted has given me strength to carry on. dh joined the army shortly after we were married (nov 08) and left for bootcamp (we had gotten pregnant, with twins nonetheless, before we were married, big nono in my baptist family!!). lately all we do is fight and i feel so hopeless. reading your story has renewed me and given me strength to keep hanging on and doing the best i can to make US work. thank you!!

  10. I was so excited this morning to see another part of your story! Thanks for letting us into your life 🙂

  11. I lived on Lucky Charms in college. Once we married, it was hamburger helper every night LOL, dh and I won’t eat that now for anything. Love your story.

  12. OMG I was dying just picturing the iron and the VCR….I could see me doing that! I am loving this story….thanks for sharing…

  13. Love reading your stories! So glad to see that there is more! 🙂

  14. This is so much fun to read, because I know that you’re still together! I remember some very sad first attempts at cooking. Fortunately I’m better now!

  15. I am enjoying reading your story! I can’t wait to hear what happens now that you are pregnant. 🙂

  16. I’m so glad you decided to share the story of the Happy Housewife! Even though it’s not necessarily a homemaking category, it’s so interesting to learn more about you and how you ended up as the mother and wife you are today.

    Keep up the great work!

  17. Oh my, it’s like we were twins in a former life, or something. Only I was in a teeny isolated German village with no car and a hubby who went to the field for weeks at a time who loved to come home to this “quaint little village” and didn’t understand how I could be so miserable! By God’s Grace we are still here almost 15 years later…Knowing how you all turn out makes me anxious to read more!

  18. Erin Stanford says:

    I am ALWAYS hanging on edge for the next installment! This one is no different. 🙂

  19. I’m still interested in the actual dates you were in Panama. When I hear your story of living in Panama, it makes mine seem so wimpy! We were there from ’94–98. That ride from Tocumen was rather long! We were on Howard AFB. Fascinating story. I can only imagine the trauma.

  20. I was so disappointed when I got to the end of the link for Our Story and it wasn’t finished! But I am glad to see hear that you are working on more to come. You might want to add that to the other copy.

    I am really looking forward to reading more of this story! I know you are busy! Thanks for sharing!

    God Bless, Eva

  21. Oh my gosh, I read all the installments tonight….I’m ready for another!!! 🙂

  22. Wow, pregnant!

    Interested to see what happened next!

  23. Oh my goodness, I had totally forgotten about the series. I think it must have been because someone decided to get 4 front teeth at the same time (and a few months after the should have been here too). I have to admit though, instead of this post making me laugh, it just sort of made me sad. But I had to remind myself that you are “The Happy Housewife” and it will get better once you are pregnant and teeming with hormones. *crosses fingers*

  24. What a great story! You had me laughing and feeling sorry for you a few paragraphs down. And as always, I can’t wait to read the next part. You do love a cliffhanger, don’t you?

  25. Oh my!!! This is some story. I guess we all had some unhappy times in the beginning days. Yours may have been a lot worse than mine, but I can relate to the unhappiness. Sory to hear you went through it too.

  26. I commend you for your honesty in writing all this… it probably isn’t easy… I remember the first few months of Army life, the first time I had moved away and it does feel lonely at first … then you realize there are so many good people you meet along the way. Military life is a roller coaster that is for sure but I would not trade the experience for anything.

  27. I know that feeling. Weren’t we all learning the ropes when we got married? I am alive today because of ramen noodles when we were married in college.
    Can’t wait to read the rest.

  28. WOW! I am shocked. You say you were beginning to really dislike him, but there must have been some kind of attraction there for you to have gotten pregnant… ;0) I absolutely love your story. I am on the edge of my seat!

  29. I think you love to leave us hanging.

    I’m still laughing about you breaking the VCR with the iron. Hilarious!

  30. Awwww. You poor things. (You and your dh.) That sounds like SUCH a rough start!!

  31. Yikes! We’ve have loaner furniture when we were in Japan and several accidents with movers. I must admit the Japanese did a better job at packaging our stuff then the movers here. Ugh! 🙁
    Can’t wait to hear the next installment!

  32. I just started reading your story yesterday and finished this newest installment this afternoon! My husband and I are both waiting anxiously for the next part. This is great!

  33. I can not wait for your next installment. I am always in such suspense that I keep checking back obsessivly every 5 minutes for the next installment.

  34. I can’t wait to see if you’re husband started listening to Rush Limbaugh or not!

  35. Oh my goodness! I’ve just Stumbled Upon your site and onto “Our Story” and I’m addicted already! I can’t wait for your next installment!

  36. Lydia Cate says:

    Okay so I just found your blog yesterday and read all could find of “Our Story”. I spent some time today frantically looking for “the rest of the story”. Finally I found this page with your note of more to come. Whew! For a moment there I thought that was just all you planned on sharing. I can’t wait to read the rest. Based on the fact that you now have several more than one child 🙂 I’m guessing there was some divine transformation happening at some point. How exciting, reassuring and hopeful for so many who are in disappointing marrages. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Happy and Hopeful mom of 5!

  37. Paula Lucas says:

    Wow , Your story is incredible. My husband and i have been married 23 years and have 7 childern, but, we fought like cats and dogs in the beginning, too.We tend to be as opposite as we are the same. I have had to learn and am still learning how to be a wife and mother. sometimes , i despair even yet. thank you for sharing. chaos is insueing better run… Your faithful reader, Paula

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