“[Despite the distance,] you are my home.” – Phillip Phillips, “Home” (their song)
Meet Cathleen. She works at an elementary school in Onslow County as a special needs teacher. Prior to moving to Camp Lejeune, she and her husband were in Quantico for quite some time. While there, she was a preschool teacher at a Head Start program and also worked as an in-home behavioral therapist. They expected to be in Quantico for nine months to a year maximum…instead, they ended up being there for a total of two years! During those two years, Cathleen and her Marine lived with her in-laws in the surrounding area. Transitioning from living with your spouse on your own and creating your own routines to living under the roof of parents again is challenging. Throughout that time, they learned a lot about each other and they also learned to appreciate and capitalize on time that was theirs in her husband’s childhood bedroom.
Once they finally got out of Quantico and headed to the fleet, they received orders to Camp Lejeune. She was able to find a job in the summer before the school year and before they even moved down to the area. Onslow County schools conducted her interview over Skype, and she was given the job on the spot (Go, Cathleen!). This teaching job has proven to be much different and more rewarding than her previous one. As she was telling me her daily schedule while at school, I was overwhelmed…so basically she is Superwoman and can be in multiple places at once. Her caseload fluctuates, but she has approximately 15 students with mild modifications to their education plan and teaches English Language Arts, math, and social and organizational skills.
They are currently awaiting the arrival of their first child. The tough part about that is that she doesn’t know if her husband will be able to be there for their child’s grand arrival. He is currently in a work-up for his first deployment and will be at ITX. ITX (even though my husband has been to it, I’m not entirely sure what it stands for…) is the final exercise that a unit completes prior to deploying and is anywhere from four to six weeks long. Cathleen describes it perfectly: “Just when you think you have something nailed down, here comes that uncertainty. Luckily it makes us cherish the fleeting moments we have with each other and enjoy the everyday mundane-ness of just living our normal life.”
When she is done changing the lives of fourth and fifth graders, she heads home to take care of her Marine and their two sweet little kittens. Throughout their time together, they have and will overcome obstacles in their lives, which has driven them “to forget choosing wisely and to choose bravely in following dreams.” If any of you all have advice on how to [happily] survive a birth of a child without your Marine there, please comment below!
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